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Fall 2020 Courses

Ford School of Public Policy

PUBPOL 466/PUBPOL 626: The History & Future of Detroit
1 Credit
Instructor: Ren Farley

Detroit was the nation's most important city in the Twentieth Century because of the auto industry, the emergence of the blue collar middle class and development of the New Deal. Now it is the most negatively stereotyped city in the nation. The course describes changes in Detroit and emphasizes policy developments in Ruse Belt metropolises as they cope with the restructuring of employment. The class will be held the following days: 9/15, 9/17, 9/19 Detroit tour, 9/22, 9/24. No large American city grew more rapidly than Detroit from 1900 to the 1930s. Thanks to Henry Ford and the automobile manufacturing,  Detroit became the prosperous axis mundi of the world vehicle industry. After World War II, Detroit seemed poised to continue growing.  In 1947, there were 325 manufacturing plants in the city. Many of those factories were old so firms built modern ones in the suburbs.  The federal government subsidized home building in this era so, at very low cost, whites but not African American could easily buy an attractive suburban home. The city's population began to fall in 1950.  Retail trade followed the migration to the suburbs. By 1990, racial attitudes had changed and African Americans moved in great numbers from the city to the suburbs. By 2010, the city?s population was only 38% of what it was in 1950.  Detroit lost its tax base and, in 2012, entered bankruptcy. Coming out of bankruptcy, the city had some funds to improve its very deficient city services. Major philanthropies began investing in improving the quality of life in Detroit. Then major employers including Quicken Loans, Little Caesars, General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler started making major investments that are bringing more jobs to the city. Downtown, Midtown and the east waterfront are prospering. The city's government began to address long standing problems including neighborhood deterioration. The course focuses upon the history of Detroit emphasizing both the long history of labor-management and black-white conflicts and recent efforts to make Detroit a diverse, welcoming city with a higher quality of life and numerous job opportunities. Classroom meetings from 11:30 to 12:50 on Tuesday September 15 and Thursday September 17 and then again at the same time the following week. On Saturday September 19, there will be a tour of Detroit from 8:30 to 5 PM. There are readings for each class meeting and you will be asked to write a short op-ed essay. For additional information:

School of Kinesiology

SM 313.005: City of Champions: Detroit Sports
1.5 Credits
Instructor: Stefan Szymanski

Law School

LAW 634: Water Wars: Law and Advocacy to Save the Great Lakes
3 Credits
Instructor: Andrew Buchsbaum

The University of Michigan sits in the midst of the most abundant source of surface fresh water in the world and some of the most fascinating legal and policy disputes that will determine its future. The Great Lakes contain 20% of the surface fresh water of the entire planet, and 90% of that of the United States. They not only serve as sources of drinking water and recreation for 40 million people, but also as the economic engine for the region. Today, the lakes have reached a tipping point. Centuries of use (and abuse) and the increased demand for water from an increasingly thirsty world have created immense and potentially irreversible ecological changes and historic legal conflicts and policy opportunities to accompany them. In this class, we will learn and experience national, state, and international natural resource law and advocacy through the lens of this unique region. The public trust doctrine, water law, the Clean Water Act and other environmental laws, and even maritime law are all being simultaneously litigated and rewritten in this period of seismic shifts in Great Lakes policy. The class will cover these and other topics through lectures by and  discussions with the leaders in the Great Lakes region who right now are remaking Great Lakes law and policy.

LAW 708: Local Government
3 Credits
Instructor: Eli Savit

This class provides an introduction to local government--cities, counties, townships, and the like--and its place in the American federal system. We will dive into the black-letter law governing the allocation of responsibility and authority between states, localities, and the federal government, as well as the obligations local units of government have to residents and to other people. We'll also examine the role local governments play in state and federal courts, and consider a local entity's authority to sue on behalf of its residents. Through it all, we'll focus on big questions: Which government should make which laws? How should we decide? Which government is most likely to be responsive to the polity? Is responsiveness always a good thing? Though the course will focus on local government broadly, it will place particular emphasis, as a case study, on the City of Detroit and the State of Michigan.

College of LSA

African American Studies

AAS 202: Introduction to African Diasporic Studies
3 Credits
Instructors: Sandra Gunning, Kelly Askew
This course provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary introduction to Africa and its diaspora through a variety of topics including but not limited to: Atlantic slavery; imperialism and decolonization; migration; revolution; literature and the arts; global capital, industrialization and the environment; and public health.

American Culture

AMCULT 222 / NATIVEAM 222: Elementary Ojibwe
3 Credits
Instructor: Alphonse Pitawanakwat
The course will serve as an introduction to Anishinaabe language and culture. This course is for students who have no previous knowledge of the tribe as well as tribal members interested in learning more about their culture and language. Because Ojibwe is an endangered language, it is of utmost importance that we make sure the language is learned and used. This is a beautiful language with much to teach about living in this place. It deserves to be revitalized for future generations.

AMCULT 322 / NATIVEAM 322: Intermediate Ojibwe
3 Credits
Instructor: Alphonse Pitawanakwat
The course will serve as further introduction to Anishinaabe language and culture. Because Ojibwe is an endangered language, it is of utmost importance that the language is learned and used. This is a beautiful language with much to teach about living in this place. It deserves to be revitalized for future generations. After completing AMCULT 322 students should be able to use Ojibwe to: Create and respond to simple and compound statements and questions. Understand 500 - 1000 words. Understand some idiomatic phrases. Express detailed descriptions of events. Describe actions, people, places and things using complete sentences. Be able to write using standardized orthography. Understand the major contemporary cultural and political issues of the tribes of the Great Lakes.

AMCULT 321 / PSYCH 325: Detroit Initiative
4 Credits
Instructor: Cathryn Fabian
In this experiential field course students are assigned to work with community-based organizations on a variety of community education projects. Internships are supervised by the instructor and program staff.

AMCULT 433 / HISTART 431 / HISTART 689: Made in Detroit: A History of Art and Culture in the Motor City
3 Credits
Instructor: Rebecca Zurier
This course examines modern art, architecture, music, and culture in the local context of Detroit's urban, social, and racial history in the twentieth century. Students undertake challenging readings in theories of modernity then apply them in Detroit through original research.


ANTHRARC 296.002 Topics in Archaeology: Local Food Producers
3 Credits
Instructor: Lisa Young
What is the story behind our food? This class explores this question from the perspective of the people who produce our food. You will learn about changes in food production over the last 10,000 years from archaeological and historical case studies, as well as the stories of contemporary farmers. Using an anthropological perspective, we explore contemporary issues of sustainability, food sovereignty, and the role of local food producers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

ANTHRCUL 356 / AAS 458.003: Topics in Sociocultural Anthropology: Filming the Future of Detroit
3 Credits
Instructor: Damani Partridge

Earth and Environmental Sciences

EARTH 112 / NS 112: The Great Lakes
1 Credit
Instructor: Gregory Dick
This minicourse focuses on environmental issues in the Great Lakes. Topics include the formation and geology of the Great Lakes, hydrology and dynamics of water levels, effect of invasive species on food webs and fisheries, and pollution, particularly the role of nutrients in causing toxic algal blooms.

EARTH 120/ENVIRON 120: Geology of National Parks & Monuments
4 Credits
Instructor: Rebecca Lange
This is an introductory course that uses the National Parks to explore the geological history of the Earth, and specifically the tectonic evolution of the North American continent. Topics include plate tectonics, global volcanism, large explosive volcanic eruptions, the age of the Earth, the history of life (fossil record), meteorite impacts, earthquakes, mountain building, the origin of the Great Lakes, and climate change throughout Earth history.

EARTH 417: Geology of the Great Lakes
2 Credits
Instructor: Michela Arnaboldi
Geologic history of the late-glacial and post-glacial Great Lakes of North America, with emphasis on evaluation of evidence. Related topics such as lake circulation, bedrock setting, and physical environment of sedimentation, and paleoclimate records are examined.


ECON 330: American Industries
3 Credits
Instructor: Jim Adams
Big business in the United States today. Considerable attention is given to specific industries, including milk, beer, prescription medicines, gasoline, electricity, air transport, and automobiles. Emphasis is placed on establishing the linkages between market structure, business behavior, public policy, and economic performance.

English Language and Literature

ENGLISH 298.003: Introduction to Literary Studies: Contemporary Michigan Narratives
3 Credits
Instructor: Jeremiah Chamberlin

ENGLISH 322.001: Community Journalism: Detroit River & Why Stories Matter
3 Credits
Instructor: Jaimien Delp

ENGLISH 344.001: Writing for Publication/Public Writing: Great Lakes Writers Corps
3 Credits
Instructor: Molly Beer
The course assists students in using their college and academic writing skills to practice producing publishable writing, giving attention to publishing contexts both print and digital. Course themes will vary by instructor, and range across topics such as journalism, creative nonfiction, organizational blogging, and publicity writing.

Program in the Environment

ENVIRON 204: Under Pressure: Water Systems, Society, and the Environment
3 Credits
Instructors: John Benedict, Jason Duvall
Water plays an essential role in sustaining human and ecosystem health; it also has tremendous recreational, agricultural, commercial, and industrial value. How do we as a society balance these competing needs? The purpose of this course is to explore topics related to freshwater use, access, and availability within North America.

ENVIRON 305: Interdisciplinary Environmental Topics: Sustainability Issues in the Great Lakes Region
3 Credits
Instructor: William Currie
The Great Lakes region includes the 5 Great Lakes, parts of eight US states and Canada. It is an economically important region, with seven major cities and is home to over 30 million people. It has extreme variability in land use and human impacts, from pristine, wildland ecosystems in the north to completely human-dominated landscapes of industrial agriculture in the south, with fragmented forests and rural landscapes in between. This course will address eight sustainability issues or ‘wicked’ environmental problems in the region. Wicked issues are those that cross disciplines, cross cultures, cross ecosystems and scales, and that have multiple types of stakeholders that often do not agree on the definition of the problem. The course will use a case study approach. Rather than learning general principles about a single discipline, students will undertake an in-depth analysis of each issue, building multiple layers of understanding that draw from a range of disciplines and perspectives. Each case focuses on a specific, real-world issue that involves aspects of environmental science or ecology, economics and market failures, regulation at multiple levels of government, local jobs, legal issues, connections across scales and boundaries, and stakeholders from different cultures who hold different values and perspectives. Students will learn to examine complexities, tradeoffs, and joint goals and outcomes for sustainability issues using critical thinking and multiple perspectives. Assignments will include web-based research, blog posts, and synthesis writing assignments.

ENVIRON 306: Global Water

3 Credits
Instructor: Marc Gaden
This course examines a critical environmental issue of the 21st century: freshwater scarcity, an issue that intersects with other environmental, economic and political issues such as food, biodiversity, trade, international security, and global justice. Questions are raised concerning international cooperation, local-global interactions, collective action, sustainability, development, trade, North-South relations, equity, and diplomatic practice.

ENVIRON 421 / EAS 501: Restoration Ecology
3 Credits
Instructor: Ayana Curran-Howes, Sara Adlerstein-Gonzalez
This course offers an introduction to the science, policy, and social issues around ecological restoration and explores where local agriculture fits in the larger context of restoration. We examine and discuss a multitude of restoration projects - urban, rural, and natural areas - through the use of case studies, field trips, and guest lectures from local practitioners of restoration ecology. Field trips to local restoration sites will include field exercises to learn how to collect data for site inventory, monitoring, and assessing restoration success.


HISTORY 197.005: First-Year Seminar: Black Culture in America
3 Credits
Instructor: Stephen Berrey

HISTORY 305 / PSYCH 321: American Addictions
4 Credits
Instructor: Henry Cowles
Our subject is addiction. What is it? Why does it matter? This course explores how certain kinds of behavior (and people) have been studied, understood, and treated under the rubric of "addiction" in the United States. We will focus on how theories of addiction and its treatment have embodied different views of personhood, agency, and ethics. One aim of the course is to combine humanistic and scientific ways of thinking, including through individual and collaborative writing projects that bring past and present understandings of addictive substances and behaviors into conversation. This approach is essential to grappling with the political, philosophical, and personal consequences of how we study and stigmatize particular ways of life. Our focus on crucial texts in the history of science and medicine means that we will engage with technical material from psychology, psychiatry, and neuroscience, while our approach to this work will draw on methods from across the humanities. Given recent and ongoing events surrounding opioid use and dependency as well as the intersections of race, gender, and class with addiction and its treatment, we will consistently return to the uses of history in the present.

HISTORY 367 / AMCULT 367 / NATIVAM 367: American Indian History
3 Credits
Instructor: Michael Witgen
This course will survey the social, cultural and political history of American Indians. The course explores the dynamics of Native American history from conquest to the present mostly within the boundaries of the United States.

HISTORY 441: Immigrant Justice Lab
3 Credits
Instructors: Jesse Hoffnung-Garskof, Amy Sankaran

HISTORY 496.002: History Colloquium: Indians and Empires
4 Credits
Instructor: Michael Witgen

HIST 497.001: History Colloquium: Mobility and Migrations, African American History
4 Credits
Instructor: Jennifer Jones

HISTORY 612: Native American History
3 Credits
Instructor: Gregory Dowd
Students in this course will explore major themes in American Indian historiography including policy, gender, economy, and culture in an effort to understand past themes and future directions of American Indian history. Some questions which may be addressed include: How does the study of Native Americans challenge historians to rethink issues of race, class, and gender? What have Native American historians leaned from interdisciplinary approaches? How have literary theory and cultural studies influenced recent and current work? What is the future direction of the field?

HISTORY 698: The American Carceral State
3 Credits
Instructor: Heather Thompson

Honors Program

HONORS 241.005: Honors Core Writing in Humanities: Detroit and Gentrification Now
3 Credits
Instructor: Kristin Hass
As part of the Honors Core Curriculum, this course introduces Honors students to academic writing while engaging with the fields, questions and meta-questions, and methodologies of the Humanities. The topics vary, but all are extra-disciplinary in approach, providing a broad but rigorous investigation of the humanities.

Political Science

POLSCI 389.002: Detroit Votes
3 Credits
Instructor: Mara Ostfeld
There are over 500,000 registered voters in Detroit. The vast majority are of color. Fewer than half of them voted in the 2016 presidential election. In this community-based learning course, students will explore rates of political participation, including: Who votes? What affects rates of voter turnout? How much do these rates vary by race, gender, and national origin? How can we increase rates of electoral participation, particularly in historically marginalized communities? And, what are the implications for American democracy? Working in groups, students will design, implement and analyze their own experiments with the goal of increasing electoral participation in the 2020 election through door-to-door outreach in Detroit.

Residential College

RCCORE 302: Community-Based Internship Reflection Seminar
2 Credits
Instructor: Craig Regester
An interactive seminar in which students participate in individual and small group activities to reflect both objectively and subjectively on their internship in Detroit. Special attention is given to the interconnections among students' experiences and how these can foster organizational collaboration in the city.

RCCORE 334.005: Environmental Justice Organizing in Detroit
3 Credits
Instructor: Diana Copeland

RCHUMS 334.009: Detroit: Artist as Activist: Special Topics in the Humanities
3 Credits
Instructor: Darcy Brandel

RCIDIV 350.003: Detroiters Speak
1 Credit
Instructors: Diana Copeland, Craig Regester
Co-curated this semester by Diana Copeland, Will Copeland and Craig Regester, this interactive public course will focus in the first three sessions on the interconnected crises facing everyday Detroiters around water shutoffs, home foreclosures, public schooling, labor and gentrification. In the last five sessions, however, we'll turn to an exploration and further creative development of the many grassroots community responses happening in Detroit that are pushing back against efforts to privatize practically everything in the City.

RCSSCI 360.003: 20th Century Detroit History: Social Science Junior Seminar
3 Credits
Instructor: Stephen Ward


SOC 225: Project Community: Sociology in Action
4 Credits
Instructor: Rebecca Christensen
Students combine approximately 4 hours of weekly service in community settings, with weekly student-led seminars. Seminars are interactive, focus on related sociological issues, and provide a time for mutual support, planning and problem-solving.

College of Pharmacy

MEDCHEM 447: Drugs from Algae
3 Credits
Instructors: David Sherman, Ashootosh Tripathi

Pharmaceutical Discovery from Northern Michigan Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria)-Search for New Antibiotics --- Search for new drugs while learning about algae in the field.

Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning

ARCH509 / URP 551 – A Physical Planning and Design Workshop: The Fluid Commons
3 Credits
Instructor: María Arquero de Alarcón

This project-based, 3-credit course introduces core disciplinary competencies in Physical Planning and Design and engages in the spatialization of socio-environmental and culturally rooted processes in the built environment. Using the design studio pedagogy as a platform for learning, experimentation, critique, and exchange of ideas, the course advances skills and design research methods, digital literacy, the exploration of students’ interests in the field, and conversations with scholars, practitioners and local groups to situate our agency in the built environment.

Under the call “The Fluid Commons,” we will work on the Detroit River engaging in socio-environmental storytelling to reflect on the sustainability of contemporary re-urbanization trends, draw cultural critique and project new imaginaries.