Engaged Pedagogy Initiative Fall 2018 Fellows

Students interested in teaching and bridging classroom instruction with community-based learning were selected to participate in the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative (EPI). Below are the members of the current cohort:

Krysten Dorfman 
Krysten is an MS candidate in the School for Environment and Sustainability studying Behavior, Education, & Communication. She received her B.S. in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan. Before beginning graduate studies, she worked in Detroit facilitating place-based sustainability projects with students of all ages. Her work in SEAS focusses on bridging sustainability as it evolves in academia to how it is practiced by communities. She is also active as a SEAS department steward for the Graduate Employees' Organization. As an EPI fellow, Krysten aims to design a CBL course in which students explore and define for themselves concepts of Knowledge and Sustainability, ideas that span both personal and scientific realms. 

Ludmila Ferrari
Ludmila Ferrari is a doctoral candidate in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. Her work examines the conditions and limits of the notion of community within the historical materiality of violence, through examinations of Latin American art, and architecture. She is currently finishing her dissertation with the support of the Rackham Predoctoral Fellowship. In close dialogue with her research interests she has developed video installations and community-based art projects in Colombia and the US.  In 2009, she earned the National Prize for the Arts in Colombia with the work Tejedores de Historias, which resulted in the book En la grieta: prácticas artísticas en comunidad (Editorial Javeriana, 2015).  As an EPI fellow, Ludmila aims to develop a course on Community Arts inquiring on the double bind: how art can reformulate the question of community? And, how communities rearticulate what we understand as art?

Marisol Fila

Marisol Fila is a PhD Candidate in Spanish and Portuguese in Romance Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. She received her BA in History from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina. Marisol’s research interest include twentieth century black press and contemporary online publications by Afro descendants in Lisbon, São Paulo and Buenos Aires. More specifically, her work examines the mechanisms by which Afro descendant groups contest and negotiate the dominant ideologies of national belonging and the dialogues established across time, geographies, languages and medias. Marisol is also interested in Critical Pedagogy and Digital Humanities and in the ways in which technology and digital media can serve as a tool to share her research and work to a wider audience, but also to develop digital projects in partnership with Afro-descendant organizations across Portuguese and Spanish speaking countries. As an EPI fellow, Marisol aims to connect the experiences of bilingual English-Spanish speaking youth living in Ann Arbor with a broader Latino culture, focusing her attention in visibilizing the lives and daily experiences of young Afrodescendants living in South America. 


David Helps is doctoral student in the History department whose research and teaching cover the political history of the United States after 1945. At U of M, he works for the Policing and Social Justice Lab, which brings undergraduate and graduate students together to produce public scholarship on the history of policing in Detroit, and for the Carceral State Project, a hub for scholarly and activist interventions. Before coming to Michigan, David completed his Masters at the University of Toronto and taught local history workshops in Kitchener, Ontario. As an EPI fellow, David will design a course on the history of community responses to police abuse in cities across the US and Canada.

Kathleen Hurley

Kathleen is an MA candidate in the School of Education studying Higher Education. She focuses on student access and success in addition to management and organizations. Broadly, Kathleen is interested in how different types of learning, such as community-based learning and experiential learning, affect student outcomes such as retention and success. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan with minors in Urban Studies, as well as Community Action and Social Change. Through these academic programs, community-based learning was an integral part of the education she received. As an EPI fellow, Kathleen hopes to develop a course that engages students in the topic of climate change and its social, political, and economic impacts on our global society. 

Alice Kelley

Alice is a Ph.D. student in philosophy, currently focusing on issues at the intersection of philosophy and law. She is interested in moral responsibility, particularly the question of how developments in modern technology might affect our ethical and legal obligations. She is also researching topics in social and political philosophy of language. Alice is interested in dispelling a common misconception that the study of philosophy is too abstract, or too divorced from real life, to have an impact outside of the classroom. She has coached the Pioneer High School Ethics Bowl team since 2015 and was also involved in the pilot program of ‘Philosophy with Kids’ - an initiative to bring philosophy to young children at middle schools in the Ann Arbor area – last spring. As an EPI fellow, Alice aims to develop a course that fosters both discussion and introspective reflection on the topic of living morally in the 21st century.

AJ Kuhr

AJ is a doctoral student in philosophy at the University of Michigan specializing in the philosophy of physics. Before coming to Ann Arbor, the native Long Islander received their BA in philosophy from Columbia University and studied mathematics at the City University of New York. Their work is on the historical and philosophical currents behind the speciation of quantum gravity research programs. AJ is proud to be part of a vibrant interdisciplinary community working on foundational questions in modern physics at the University of Michigan. As an EPI fellow, AJ is developing a community-based bioethics course centered on aging, end-of-life support institutions and care work.

Dana Nickson

Dana Nickson is Ph.D. Candidate in Educational Studies with a concentration in Foundations of Education and Policy. Her research explores how the history and perception of suburban places shapes Black families and students school choice decision-making in the Detroit metro region. She seeks to widen academic and popular discourses on suburbs, which are experiencing significant demographic change, and Black families’ educational agency. Dana’s desire to obtain a PhD and work in the professoriate stems from her love for working with and learning from youth in schools. As an EPI fellow, Dana plans to design a course that allows undergraduate students to learn about the history of educational access in the Detroit metro region from the perspectives and experiences of youth of color. Additionally, she hopes to provide a space for undergraduate students and youth of color to learn about community-informed policy making processes.

Katy Rossing

Katy Rossing is a doctoral student in Michigan’s department of English Language & Literature. She studies ecocriticism, prison studies, and poetics. Before coming to Michigan, Katy spent several years teaching college-level writing and philosophy classes in Alabama prisons with Auburn University’s Alabama Prison Arts & Education Project. Since arriving at Michigan, she received a 2018 Rackham Public Engagement Fellowship to support prison advocacy work, and facilitated creative writing workshops for the Prison Creative Arts Project. During her time as an EPI Fellow, Katy would like to develop a course that uses an ecological framework to study contemporary U.S. mass incarceration.

Brianna Starks

Briana is a doctoral student in the Joint PhD Program in Social Work and Sociology. Her research interests include poverty, reproductive and economic inequality, postsecondary education, the welfare state, and variation in family formation patterns. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from UC Berkeley, and worked previously as an Academic Counselor for underserved and nontraditional students.  As an EPI Fellow, Briana would like to develop a course that integrates social policy practice and research with critically engaged pedagogy and student-led learning and development.