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Spring 2020 Courses: Student Perspectives

Curious what it's like to take a SiD course online? The students below share their experiences participating in online SiD courses during the spring semester. Remember that all SiD courses are online and open to everyone for the fall 2020 semester - learn more here!


Alana Burke, Junior
College of Literature, Science and Arts
Major: African and Afroamerican Studies

Course: Grassroots Community Organizing in Detroit for Changing Times

I can honestly say I truly enjoyed this online course. All the material discussed in the course was very informative and introduced me to new concepts. This allowed me to look at my life and environment differently and understand more about American society and the importance of community organizing. The professors were very encouraging and the course presented a great opportunity to engage with people connected to communities and organizations in Detroit.


Vanya Lazarevic, Sophomore
College of Engineering
Major: Mechanical Engineering

Course: Detroit Art in Times of Crisis

In periods of unease and unpredictability like these, art is a powerful tool to center the mind of the creator and the audience, even if they are the same person. In Professor Brandel’s course, I saw the application of the arts through the lens of both great movements in the United States - such as the underestimated impact of the Freedom Singers in the Civil Rights movement - and through a focus on Detroit, whose history is stereotyped in misrepresentation. Detroit-based speakers visited us virtually such as Rose Gorman, who informed us of the Tuxedo Project community initiative, and Frank Rashid, who empirically proved that Detroit did not 'fall' in the 1960s but from the start of economic reform which left minority communities to prop up the 'boom' in abhorrent conditions. 
Learning about Detroit's rich history in this manner and through weekly analyses of Detroit poetry and visual art shifted my perception of art's effects to sway collective consciousness, which I say because of its tendency to impact myself! Every week, we wrote reflections on what we had gleaned from the material, and posted artistic creations that helped us heal in this time. My favorite experience was crafting the final project, which for me was a visual culmination of what I drew from the course (difficult to fit on one canvas) and how art has helped me stay grounded during shelter-in-place. Needless to say, I highly recommend this course.


Samantha K. Mindell, Senior
School of Nursing

Course: Grassroots Community Organizing in Detroit for Changing Times

I originally signed up for this class to fulfill a requirement for my Global Health minor. I have never felt so rewarded after taking a required class. I have always felt an overwhelming eagerness to join local efforts in community organizing, but never quite knew of an available outlet to do so. In this class, I engaged in conversations with my classmates and professors about grassroots community organizing in Detroit, how they are rapidly adjusting their work in response to COVID-19, as well as past and present social movements in Detroit, America, and across the globe. From those conversations I learned I am not alone in feeling an overwhelming desire to join in on efforts that are aiming to create good change in our country’s legal and policing systems; that I am not alone in feeling an overwhelming drive to learn as much as I can about the layered histories of Black Lives Matter Movement, police brutality, and systemic racism in America; and that I am not alone in pausing my usual fast-paced lifestyle in light of the pandemic. Although the class was taught virtually, I felt and still feel a sense of community that is on its way to creating real, passionate change in communities of America. This class was truly transformative, and I must say, I wish it was required for all undergraduates.


Alayna Simonds, Junior
Ross School of Business 
Minor: Spanish Language, Literature and Culture

Course: Detroit Art in Times of Crisis

At its core, Professor Darcy Brandel’s,“Detroit Art in Time of Crisis” was a course that revolved around empathy, connection, and the purest form of creativity. Not to mention, even with its online format, the course allowed me to find a newfound appreciation for both myself, and the many forms of art that I and those around me create. As students, we are often told how to think and what answers to generate. This course; however, turned that dynamic on its head, reinvesting in the power of the student, and reinstalling my love for learning all throughout.


Sean Stiles, Junior
College of Literature, Science and Arts
Political Science Major

Course: Grassroots Community Organizing in Detroit for Changing Times

As a recent transfer from UM-Flint to UM-Ann Arbor, I was referred to this class by my advisor, and it was everything she hyped it up to be. Despite teaching their first full (and shortened) semester online, Craig and Diana worked wonders with our class navigating the difficult challenges COVID-19 presented to community organizing. We were able to choose between an array of  community groups to work with throughout the semester, and were exposed to many helpful teach-ins and guest speakers. Learning how to adapt to these new societal changes influenced me to build on my experience in Detroit with more Semester in Detroit classes. I highly encourage this class for anybody looking to understand how community organizing is changing, and how to get involved with it themselves.