The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship, with support from the U-M Office of Research, has announced its 2017 Grants in Public Scholarship awards to graduate students.

The grants, totaling more than $38,000, support research projects created in partnership between Rackham students and a broad spectrum of community partner organizations.

Each of the five funded projects results in a public good — informed by their scholarship — which helps to address complex and wide-ranging social and cultural issues locally and abroad, from tax-foreclosure in Detroit to archaeology and art in Oaxaca, Mexico.

The graduate students were selected from a highly competitive pool. Their diverse set of projects demonstrate the scope of public engagement work being done at U-M, as well as the potential these graduate students have to grow the field of public scholarship into the future.

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship has been supporting Public Scholarship on campus since 1998, when it began as the former Arts of Citizenship Program. Its mission is to support collaborative scholarly and creative endeavors that engage communities and co-create public goods while enhancing students’ professional development.

Grants recipients and their projects are:

Casta Guillaume
Ph.D. candidate in education and psychology

Lead On: Young Women Community Action Projects

In partnership with the Sadie Nash Leadership Project, a national youth and community development organization, this project will provide civically engaged young women of color with a structure and technical supports needed to articulate their ideas about aspects of community life that require social transformation, develop action research projects that will allow them to craft and engage in community change efforts, and implement their projects with skilled support staff. Through this work, participants will develop the training and skills to implement and sustain research projects in their community.

Lacey Carpenter
Ph.D. candidate in anthropology

Crafting Communities in Oaxaca: Drawing Inspiration from Ancient Artifacts

Through a collaboration with the Comité de Artesanos de San Martin Tilcajete, this project will use the 2,500-year history of a Zapotec community at Tilcajete to provide new avenues for modern artisans to gain an international audience. While the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico is well known for art and archeology, many people are excluded or marginalized under a system of arts and culture tourism that favors a small number of established workshops. The project will elevate emerging talent by inviting artisans to work directly with archaeological artifacts from Tilcajete and incorporate the designs into their woodcarvings, and by bringing a subset of the artisans to Ann Arbor to represent the group and display their work.

Anita Ravishankar
Ph.D. candidate in political science and public policy

Understanding Civilian vs. Police Expectations of Policing: Building Trust and Legitimacy by Bridging the Gap

The purpose of this project, done in collaboration with the Metropolitan Police Department of Washington, D.C., is to provide evidence to inform policy and programmatic changes designed to build public trust in the police and improve perceptions of police legitimacy in Washington, D.C. Through an innovative survey design, the goal is to more accurately measure the gap in trust between civilians and the police and pinpoint solutions that can begin to bridge this gap.

Maria Militzer
Ph.D. candidate, health behavior and health education

Spanish Community Interpreters

The Spanish Community Interpreters project is a collaboration with IDEA-Buenos Vecinos, a local organization in Washtenaw County that promotes leadership and community engagement. The goal of the project is to contribute to a reduction in Latino health disparities by providing Spanish health care interpreting training to bilingual (English/Spanish) community members. Trainees will help enable effective communication between health, educational, social service, and legal organizations and their Spanish-speaking clients.

Erika Linenfelser
master’s student in urban planning
Alexa Eisenberg
Ph.D. student in health behavior and health education

Tax Foreclosure Toolkit

Property tax foreclosure is a critical issue of public importance in Detroit, displacing thousands of residents each year. Working with the United Community Housing Coalition and Tricycle Collective, this collaborative project will create a toolkit to support foreclosure prevention initiatives across the city by creating a public resource for outreach to facilitate network-building and knowledge sharing. The toolkit will also provide community members with the opportunity to build skills and access necessary resources to become educators on foreclosure prevention in their neighborhoods.