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Call for Papers: The Future of Work in the Midwest

Congratulations to our Paper Competition Winners!

Top Graduate: TIED—Christopher LeFlore, "Employer-Provided Transportation," and Nick Najor, "Construction Career Pathways in Detroit"

Top Undergraduate: Meiru Chen & Katherine Yang, "The Four E's in Empowering the Future of Work in the Midwest"

In the winter term of 2020, the Center for Social Solutions (CSS) invited proposals from U-M students for a paper competition on the current state of labor in the Midwest region of the US in light of the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its effect on the dignity of labor in the 21st century. The growing presence of artificial intelligence and automation in the workplace is predicted to shift, transform, and remove millions of jobs from the employment landscape over the next few decades. CSS is seeking innovative, human-centric responses to challenges facing employers, employees, workplaces, and education.

Possible topics to choose from in crafting a solution to the complex and dynamic problem of future-proofing the dignity of labor amidst the Fourth Industrial Revolution included:

The Dignity of Labor

  • Workplace Location, Design, & Architecture
  • Structure (PTO, Compensation, Workday and week length, etc.)
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Manufacturing & Warehouse Labor

  • Automotive Industry
  • Meatpacking/Agriculture

Labor Market & Governance

  • The Role of Unions
  • Gig Economy
  • Universal Basic Income


  • Continuing Education/Reskilling
  • Alternative Higher Education
  • Leadership & Human Capital


Limit papers to 3000 words.

The deadline for submission was MAY 12, 2020.

Papers were reviewed by a panel of experts and monetary awards were given. High scoring proposals will also be nominated for publication in university sponsored media and journals, as well as featured on the CSS website.

Email questions or feedback to