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Fall 2021 Classes in Detroit

Students in the fall 2019 semester visit D-Town farm as part of their Internship Reflection Seminar.

For the first time, undergraduate students living in Ann Arbor have the opportunity to take any class with Semester in Detroit this fall -- without living in Detroit or taking the full curriculum. Students can choose from classes ranging from Detroit history to a community-based internship. See below for more details on each of the courses.

Each course meets in Detroit 1x/week, with the exception of the community-based internship, for which the schedule will be determined on a case-by-case basis between students and their intership organizations.

Transportation to Detroit will be provided. For questions, email

RCSSCI 250-003: From the Underground to Motown: A Course on Detroit's History

Wednesdays • 10am-1pm • 3 credits • Register
Taught by Jamon Jordan

This course will explore the history of Detroit, focusing on its transformation during the twentieth century and continued evolution as a majority-black city. The course is intended to clarify how the city’s past has created the conditions and circumstances of the present. Potential topics and themes to be examined in the course include (but certainly are not limited to): the histories of indigenous peoples in the region before the founding of Detroit; practices of slavery and abolition; the persistence and impact of racial and ethnic conflicts across time periods; the ways in which class conflicts have shaped the urban landscape and the workplace; the Great Migration and the social and political development of Black communities; the impact of immigration on Detroit’s social and political development; profiles of specific neighborhoods; musical traditions such as Blues, Jazz, Motown, Techno, and Hip Hop; the interplay between the auto industry and the urban environment; the on-going struggles over political power and for control of the city; and the changing ways the city is represented, both among its citizens and in the broader American consciousness.

RCCORE 301-166 : Community-Based Internship

Days/times determined by students & their community partner organizations • Register

This course pairs with RCCORE 302.001 (Community-Based Internship Reflection Seminar).

With the support and guidance of Semester in Detroit faculty, students and organizations both participate in the placement process, thus providing a challenging academic experience for students while contributing toward the organization’s mission and community agenda. Students develop a work plan early in the semester in conjunction with their direct supervisors. Faculty stay in regular communication (including site visits) with both students and organizational partners during the semester. Past internship opportunities have included experiences in community organizing, community development, public journalism, youth outreach and mentoring, urban agriculture, arts education, and more. For a list of our community partners, see this page.

RCCORE 302-001: Community-Based Internship Reflection Seminar

Tuesdays • 10am-12pm • 2 credits • Register
Taught by Craig Regester & Rion Berger

This course pairs with RCCORE 301-166: Community-Based Internship

The goal of this course is to provide a supportive, yet challenging learning space for reflecting on students' experiences at their community-based internships throughout the semester. There are three main sources of material for this class: students, the internship, and Detroit. While each is distinct, all three are intertwined and interact and affect one another. The challenge is to learn to see more clearly the interactions among these domains. Ultimately, through this class, students develop their visions to transform themselves and our society with justice and equity in mind. 

RCSSCI 312: Environmental Justice Grassroots Community Organizing in Detroit for Changing Times (ONLINE)

Mondays • 10am-1pm • 3 credits • Cross-listed with SW 312-001 • Register
Taught by Diana WasaAnung'gokwe Seales

This course looks at movements, resistance, resilience, and liberation. Community Organizing is growing as an academic field, especially as it relates to urban studies. A growing body of evidence reveals that people of color and low-income persons have borne greater environmental and health risks than 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.

RCHUMS 334-009: Detroit Artist as Activist

Tuesdays • 2pm-5pm • 3 credits • Register
Taught by Darcy Brandel

This course will explore the role the arts have played in resisting systemic inequalities, fighting injustice, and giving voice to those on the margins. We will consider both the strengths and limitations of art, particularly creative writing, as a force for social change as well as art’s effectiveness in engaging communities. Further, we will use the study and practice of creative writing to deepen our understandings of and relationships with the city of Detroit.

RCIDIV 350-003: Detroiters Speak

Thursdays in October & November • 1 credit • Register

In this 8-session series (specific dates TBD), students will gather with the general public to learn about the city from listening to and engaging with Detroiters through community educational gatherings. The theme for the fall 2021 series is still in development but will address contemporary social issues in Detroit. This community classroom (anyone is welcome to attend classes) is connected to the UM Semester in Detroit program and is a collaboration with the General Baker Institute and Wayne State University faculty.

This class will be offered in-person and will feature public discussions with Detroiters moderated by the University of Michigan and Wayne State University staff and faculty. Each week, brief required readings from newspapers and other sources will provide students with an introduction to each topic, so they may post thoughtful questions for moderators and guests to consider. Bus transportation to/from Detroit will be provided to registered students.

This class will begin in early October and end in early December. The exact dates will be posted as soon as they are available, but not before July 2021.