Think-Act Tanks comprise a new and innovative initiative that brings together diversity scholars to address some of the most pressing social issues in our society. By mobilizing multi-disciplinary, -institutional, and -generational collaborative research teams, Think-Act Tanks seek to advance diversity scholarship that has a public impact.

This initiative was conceptualized to provide the resources and supports that are critical for effective and sustained faculty-led research team projects. Groups are made up of University of Michigan (U-M) faculty, postdoctoral fellows, visiting scholars, and/or external scholars, tapping into local and global expertise, aiming to expand and explicitly engage scholars with social science, humanistic, and humanistic social science expertise.

In the inaugural cycle, the NCID will fund and support four Think-Act Tanks.


Advancing Social Science Scholarship and Teaching on Latino Youth and Families

Faculty Lead: Deborah Rivas-Drake

This Think-Act Thank aims to establish an interdisciplinary working group of scholars focusing on Latino youth and families. This group will bring together faculty from various U-M social science departments (e.g., Education, Political Science, Psychology, Social Work) who are already conducting scholarship on Latino youth and families but who have not had an opportunity to think and work collectively on their scholarly pursuits. The group will meet regularly with the purpose of stimulating dialogue around issues in their research, supporting faculty in conducting high quality research with Latino participants, facilitating and developing new research collaborations, building networks with colleagues at other institutions who will be invited to present cutting-edge scholarship, and producing a collaborative scholarly publication that may be an edited book or a journal special issue. Specific thematic topics (e.g., immigration/migration, parenting and cultural values, etc.) will be identified over the course of the group's activities.

Embodiment and Environmental Art Practice

Faculty Lead: Petra Kuppers

This Think-Act Tank lies at the conjunction of queer ecopoetics, disability studies, critical race studies, indigenous studies, and environmental studies. The group wants to learn from each other about disability cultural methods, indigenous art and world making, African-American performance approaches, and more. Together, they want to shape a complex tool-set to approach living in a changing natural world which impacts people differently, dependent on histories of violence and their attendant environmental effects. How do our different thinking and acting methods prepare us for change, and how can we teach about these methods together? This Think-Act Tank wants to generate energies toward making public the insights gathered in their disciplines about how to live well in change, stay creative under pressure, and find new balances in human and other-than-human collaborative fields. Products/outcomes will include public presentations and performances, and publications developed individually and in collaboration.

Queer/Cuir/Feminist (Q/C/F) Group of the Americas

Faculty Lead: Larry La Fountain

The Queer/Cuir/Feminist (Q/C/F) Group of the Americas will engage in a three-day work meeting and host a symposium in Ann Arbor on September 19-21, 2019 to advance the publication of two scholarly journal special issues that will appear in the United States (in English) and in Brazil (in Spanish and Portuguese). This Think-Act Tank aims to create a public space at U-M for the discussion of LGBTQ Latinx, Indigenous, and Afro-diasporic gender and sexuality. Their interdisciplinary, transnational, action-based, Latinx queer feminist scholarly group includes university-based scholars and independent scholars and activists that are involved in diverse educational initiatives in several Latin American countries and US Latinx communities. The Ann Arbor meeting will bring together eight long-term members of the group with seven collaborators from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, and Puerto Rico who have historically not had the resources to travel to U-M gatherings.

Museums and Publics: Engaging Detroit, Berlin, and the Future of the City

Faculty Lead: Damani Partridge

Inspired by the Detroit Institute of Arts’ (DIA) Plaza design competition and a set of persistent concerns regarding the relationship between museums and publics, this Think-Act Tank on Museums and Publics asks: How do urban residents participate in shaping the future of the city? How do museums contribute to the possibility of this participation and re-shaping? To what extent does the curation of established museums, often in the city center, contribute to the appearance of inaccessibility? Can a re-conceptualization of the already established architecture offer new hope? The DIA’s international design competition is enlisting experts, but how do experts, Detroit’s urban, and suburban publics work in relation to each other? The story of Detroit’s “comeback” features the museum at its geographic center. It highlights the museum under the theme of “re-emergence” and the necessity for finding alternative forms of engagement. Finally, this project also examines the relationship between the histories of the museums, their collections, and the publics in related museums sites in Berlin, Germany and Cape Town, South Africa.