As part of a semester-long series of events related to addiction here at the University of Michigan, a group of students researched and designed an exhibit called “Bad Habits: Drinks, Drags, and Drugs in Washtenaw County History” for a local museum.
Co-sponsored by the College of Literature, Science and the Arts and by the University of Michigan Substance Abuse Research Center (UMSARC), the Research Theme Semester, as it is known, has included seminars, visiting speakers, a film series, and more. Those of us involved in the museum exhibit hoped that it would bring the semester’s events into the community and also encourage student involvement with the county historical society, which runs the museum. Like many local historical societies, this one includes a number of older people on the executive board, and I assumed, mistakenly as it turned out, that they might not endorse this idea for an exhibit. In fact, they have been enthusiastic supporters, providing many research leads for the students to explore and, in some cases at least, sharing their own memories of drinking escapades. Since much of the semester has focused on addiction, with a very serious tone as a result, I found their good humor a welcome change of pace.