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SiD in COVID - Fall 2020 Semester in Detroit

*Please note: you do NOT have to apply to Semester in Detroit to enroll in any of our courses*

Due to COVID-19, all fall 2020 SiD courses will be held online. There is a possibility that some of the classes will meet for a small number of optional in-person activities, but that is TBD depending on the status of COVID infection rates among other factors. Despite the restrictions that come with holding online courses, SiD remains committed to building community and creating a space in which students feel supported in each of our classes. 

Courses that are usually restricted to students in the Semester in Detroit program, including the community-based internship, are now open to students from all colleges at the University. Additionally, students wishing to participate in the full Semester in Detroit program in the future can take any of these classes - excluding the history course - and participate in the program. See the drop-down list below for more details and links to the course guide for each of the classes.

In addition, all classes continue to be open to GVSU, UM-Dearborn, and UM-Flint students - contact us for more information.

If you have any questions, please email

RCCORE 334.005: Grassroots Community Organizing in Detroit for Changing Times

Diana Seales • Tu 10am-1pm • 3 credits • Register

This course looks at community-led movements, resistance, resilience, and liberation. This online course will focus on emerging community responses during the COVID-19 epidemic specifically as it relates to Detroit. Detroit is one of the nation's “hot spots” for the virus. What does this mean for a major city that was already battling the impacts of environmental injustice, poverty, racism, and a lack of healthcare access? In this course, we will learn about how different community organizations are responding: some are shutting down operations while others are transforming their organizations completely to meet the needs of the community in innovative and creative ways. Students will have opportunities to join efforts happening in Detroit now and remotely connect with organizations working to respond to community's ever-changing needs. Projects range from helping the efforts to turn the water back on for the 10s of thousands of residents without water to orgs running town halls for mental health and grief and getting families and kids into remote sports activities to keep little league teams (and families) together. Students in this course will have access to a number of online organizer tool kits and class conversations will also cover self-care for yourself as an organizer and providing care for others in the community. Building on decades-long environmental justice organizing in the city of Detroit, everyone will come out of this class making a meaningful contribution to the current crisis in Detroit, build their own “organizers tool-kit” full of activities to take with them into any community organization scenario as well as a number of self-care sessions. Optional in-person tours and activist workshops will be available as add-ons.

RCHUMS 334.009: Detroit Artist as Activist

Darcy Brandel • Tu 2pm-5pm • 3 credits • Register

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 the power of art as a component in social movements as well as in times of crisis. Further, we will use the study and practice of art, particularly creative writing, to deepen our understandings of and relationships to the city of Detroit and consider artistic practice as a way of healing and transforming our communities as well as ourselves.

RCSSCI 360.003: 20th Century Detroit History - Thinking Historically In & About Detroit

Stephen Ward • Wed 10am-1pm • 3 credits • Register

Over the last 100 years, the city of Detroit has experienced dramatic changes in its population and economy, produced tremendous cultural shifts, generated a range of social movements, and been the site of violent upheavals. These transformations are reflected in the various labels attached to the city over the last century, including "motor city," "arsenal of democracy," "union town," "model city, "murder capital," and more recently, "comeback city." This class explores the history of these transformations and critically examines the meanings and uses of these labels. Students will explore the creation and use of narratives as a guiding framework for inquiries into the past and present and the relationship between them. Specifically, we will identify and explore two overarching narratives that link the past with the present: 1) the “rise and fall” story of rapid growth and dramatic decline, ending either in renaissance (the hope of rebirth) or ruin (the death of the city); and 2) a different and often competing narrative of people and their communities—the formation of human solidarities, grassroots revitalization, visions of alternative futures—that have formed and evolved over time, in tandem with, and often despite, the stories of rise and fall. 

RCCORE 301.166: Detroit Community-Based Internship

Craig Regester • Asynchronous • 4 credits • Register

Individual internships and 2-3 person student team community projects will be available for academic credit this fall. Internships and projects are available in online-only format; some will have built-in (but optional) opportunities for public-health informed in-person experiences in the city.  SID Community Partners who have expressed interest in collaborating this fall: 482Forward, United Community Housing Coalition, Allied Media Projects, Riverwise Magazine, Detroit is Different, D-Town Farms, Detroit Justice Center, Live Coal Gallery, Frontline/Cass Corridor Commons, and Office of Detroit City Councilwoman Raquel Casteneda-Lopez.  Participating students will gather once per week over Zoom for a weekly reflection seminar to share experiences and to learn from each other.

NOTE: Students participating in the full Semester in Detroit program are required to take the Internship Reflection Seminar (Mondays 10am-12pm, 2 credits). Non-SiD students who are only registered for the community-based internship are not required, but strongly encouraged to also register for the Internship Reflection Seminar if their schedule allows it.

RCIDIV 350.003: Detroiters Speak - Healing Justice as Building Cultural Resilience

Diana Seales • Th 7pm-9pm • 1 credit • Register

For the third fall in a row, Diana Seales is coordinating Healing Justice as Building Cultural Resilience - a workshop series that centers cultural organizing and healing justice as themes and strategies for resistance. Past workshops have included topics such as: "Intro to Tarot card reading and using intuition for selfcare"; "Beat back the oppressors! (with smooth Beats): electronic recording, learning, and sharing session with Sacramento Knoxx"; "Herbs and Ceremony - how ritual can be used for personal and activist self care"; and "Healing Arts through Movement and Native Dance".

For more information on past iterations of this series, see our fall 2019 Healing Justice page.

RCIDIV 350.004: Detroiters Speak - Public Series with the General Baker Institute

Craig Regester • Day/Time TBD • 1 credit • Register

The Semester in Detroit Program joins with faculty from Wayne State University to collaborate with the General Baker Institute - a community education and activist center located in Northwest Detroit. This online series is open to the public and will focus on learning from Detroit community organizing struggles, both past and present.