Skip to Content

Detroit-Based Electives

Semester in Detroit elective classes are open to all UM students. The classes take place in Detroit, and the program provides transportation for those students in Ann Arbor who are interested. Below are the electives offered for Fall 2017:

Detroit: Beyond the Other

RCCORE 334 - Special Topics Section: 004 


This class is devoted to short fiction in search of a creative rendering of the people in Detroit, a city which offers rich opportunities to explore the theme of the “other.” Students will develop short narratives that capture their impressions of the city through its people. Class discussions will help direct students.During the term we will read fiction primarily about Detroit. Readings will include the following authors: Dorene O’Brien, Bonnie Jo Campbell, Harriett Arnow, Jeffrey Eugenides and others. When the going gets tough, Detroit writers dig deep into the city’s interior, filter it through their hearts then let the words flow from their fingertips. Detroiters reflect and write, reflect again, talk it out somewhere, then write some more. That’s the process we’ll use in this class, beginning with regular journal, in-class writing exercises, character and place sketches, hearing Detroit writers and lots of talking and sharing. Students will mine the journal entries and writing exercises for a final book project that each student will create, consisting their written work for this class and whatever else is needed to tell the story. In addition, students will each write a short story that will be included in the class book of fiction and may be included in the student’s personal book, as well.


Environmental Justice Organizing in Detroit

RCCORE 334 - Special Topics Section: 005


This course looks at movements, resistance, resilience, and liberation. Community organizing is one of the most popular areas of specialization to the School of Social Work. A growing body of evidence reveals that people of color and low-income persons have borne greater environmental and health risks than the society at large in their neighborhood, workplace, and playgrounds. Over the last decade grassroots activists have attempted to change the way governments implement environmental and health laws. Grassroots groups have organized, educated, and empowered themselves to improve the way government regulations and environmental policies are administered. In a class setting we will connect history, current events, and real-life experiences to local organizing and movement struggles that build power for our communities. These courses will utilize highly interactive popular education methods where participants share political analysis, learn facilitation and organizing skills, and think together about long-term, transformative strategies to build environmental, racial and economic justice. It is critical for organizers, activists, scholars and community members to come together, connect our work with each other, share our experiences and place our local organizing within a larger historical and political context. We can build deep and strong social movements that act strategically and collectively over the long term. Students will develop actual tools in popular education, facilitation and workshop organizing that can be applied immediately in the fieldUnderstand the roots of Environmental Racism/ InjusticeUnderstand how organizing in grassroots communities is uniqueUnderstanding and practicing grassroots methods of organizing from the block to block and neighborhood to neighborhood levelUnderstanding the differences between organizing methods: protests, campaigns, community organizing and movement building.