Projects proposed by students


These are the humanities, social science and education projects proposed by students representing more than 10 programs and departments and four different schools within the university:

1. Mikell Hyman, sociology, will collect and analyze archival and interview data pertaining to Detroit’s 2013 bankruptcy to explore the hypothesis that intellectual elites (accountants, appraisers, consultants, economists) shape urban development trajectories in meaningful ways by mediating relations of trust and control between political and economic elites.

2. Samantha Hobson, sociology, plans to conduct a social-ecological analysis of how access to community green space in urban environments can alleviate the cognitive burden of people of color and enhance the social, physical, and mental health of individuals and the broader community.

3. Shebani Rao, sociology, will interview art advocates, foundations and community members to examine the connection between art and community development, to understand why art has come to be viewed as a public good, and explore which communities and groups are benefiting from Detroit’s (re)emergence as a hub for art and creativity.

4. Michael RJ Koscielniak, urban and regional planning, will examine the geography and politics of urban demolition. He will study how backfill material used to complete residential demolitions in Detroit is identified, approved and distributed, and how the movement and regulation of this material raises important questions about democracy, land, property and territory.

5. Kelly E. Slay, higher and postsecondary education, will examine how Michigan’s affirmative action ban (Proposal 2) affects recruitment and enrollment decisions among black undergraduate students admitted to U-M. She plans to wrap up a collaborative study on education reform and school closure policy in Detroit over 35 years. She is interested in how educational policies shape the outcomes and experiences of black students across the educational pipeline.

6. Gloria Elena Toriche, educational foundations, administration, research and policy, will focus on Artist-Scholar-Activist Malaquias Montoya, one of the founders of Chicana/o Social Serigraphy and the Mexican American Liberation Art Front. Her goal is to understand Montoya in order to chronicle his contributions to the under-researched “pedagogies of the movement,” teachings generated from a collective civil rights struggle, assertion of community sovereignty, and project of cultural reclamation known as the Chicana/o Movement.

7. Tabitha C. Bentley, education policy, leadership and innovation, will examine how Washtenaw County takes on President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper Community Challenge, an initiative to improve opportunities for young men of color. She also is participating in the MBK Detroit Innovation Challenge, and will use lessons from both programs to consider how dynamic research can capture and contribute to the communities in which it is being done.

8. Dana Nickson, educational foundations, administration, research and policy, will examine black youth perceptions of education reform in Detroit city schools. She will focus on how students understand dynamics of school choice, resource allocation, and school climate in their daily schooling and community experiences. She also plans to conduct interviews for a community-based research project examining an education group’s impact on the education policy narrative in Michigan and Detroit.

9. Peggy Lee, American culture, plans to work on a music writing project for 33 1/3 that ties Detroit and New York City to themes of racialized death, spirituality, horror films, and rage during the 1990’s. This will include interview research with Detroit-based musicians and fans.

10. Mariane Stanev, comparative literature, will look at how documents, songs and literary works from the early colonial era shaped and reflected communities at that time, and how society is still influenced by those standards. She hopes to find out to what extent things like city planning and the cultural landscape in Detroit may reflect the standards of “colonial baggage.”

11. Joseph Richard DeLeon, screen arts and culture, will research the histories and cultures of media activism in the post-industrial city. His current research focuses on Detroit since the 1960s. He engages with the effects of capitalism on the built environment of Detroit and local responses to urban blight across a range of media texts and platforms.

12. Chris Campbell, political theory, plans to continue studying political and social processes that shape intuitions about the world we live in, blending the perspectives of the radical left with classical theories of democracy. This involves examining classical texts through the lens of practice and experience in order to emphasize moments of struggle and controversy in democratic politics.

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