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Democracy & Debate Theme Semester

Featured Course

SI 534 | Theories of Social Influence

This course introduces the major theories of social influence in psychology and economics so that you may become a better decision architect …

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PubPol 683 | Elections & Campaigns

There is no policy without victory. More precisely, well-planned and well-executed political campaigns win elections and make governing …

College of Engineering Back to top

Featured Course
J. Alex Halderman

Strengthening election cybersecurity is essential for safeguarding democracy. Attacks against recent elections in the U.S. and Europe demonstrate that cybercriminals and nation-state actors are becoming more aggressive, even as campaigning and voting become increasingly reliant on vulnerable computer and networks. Election cybersecurity raises complex challenges at the intersection of computer science, law and public policy, politics, and international affairs. Students from across these disciplines are encouraged to join the course. Prerequisite: EECS 388 or instructor permission. Non-EECS students are encouraged to enroll; we will arrange for alternative assignments appropriate to your major.

Richard Rood

Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of climate change and its impact. (2 credits)This 2-credit seminar focuses on special topics on the use of climate-change data and knowledge in planning, design, engineering and management. Topics may include uncertainty in the context of decision making, nonstationarity in design and engineering, and vulnerability and risk assessment. Prerequisite: Basic knowledge of climate change and its impact.

College of Literature, Science and the Arts Back to top

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Alisse Portnoy

Many people spoke for – and against – woman’s right to vote in the United States. These speeches are terrific opportunities to understand how activists argue for an absolutely fundamental civil right. They also show us how even progressive activists sometimes rely on conservative ideas in their paths to social change. Let’s look together at the slippery boundaries between binaries such as inclusion and exclusion, progressive and conservative, and also seemingly self-evident identities like “woman,” “white,” “healthy,” and “middle-class.” Sure, these speeches led to the 19th Amendment. What else did these speeches do, and undo? We’ll connect to the November U.S. elections, and lots more in our every-day-worlds.

Anne Manuel

This course covers approximately 230 years of American Political Thought. We explore the early Protestant tradition in New England. This tradition emphasized faith, community, small group participation, and self-government while retaining traditional ideas about hierarchy, race, gender, and the right to exclude dissenters. Next, we look at how the Enlightenment took hold in the colonies and the emergence of political debates on independence, rationality, liberty, equality, consent, and limited government. We pay particular attention to the liberal and republican traditions and how they shaped the constitution of 1787. We delve into a range of intellectual and popular movements such as the Great Awakening, the rise of print culture, and Transcendentalism. We look at movements that emerge among women, such as women’s mobilization against slavery and women’s arguments for their own full political rights, including the right to vote. We will explore the impact of settler colonialism, the status of enslaved people, free blacks, and Native Americans, as well as the political and economic claims advanced by people of color. We wrap up with a look at the ideological, economic and political conflicts that shaped the US Civil War.

Featured Course
Jenna Bednar

In American State Government we will examine current state governance and policymaking through the lens of intergovernmental relations and federalism. Key concepts include diversity, decentralization, and externalities. We will pay special attention to the states’ fiscal capacities and the constraints and opportunities that federalism brings to the states’ policymaking options. Students will select a piece of state legislation to examine in detail, using considerations of federalism to make an argument about the legislation’s necessity and efficacy. My goal is for you to finish the semester with the ability to analyze state public policy closely, understood in the federal context, and with the skills to write a compelling, evidence-based analysis of it.

Ted Brader

How well do Americans live up to expectations for citizens in a democracy? We begin by considering a range of perspectives on what democracy demands of citizens. We then review evidence on the actual political behavior of Americans to see how they compare to expectations. Over the course of the academic term, we consider what Americans know about politics, their beliefs and values, their level of civic and political participation, the quality of political discussion, and the manner in which they evaluate policies and political leaders. Registration restricted to majors.

Sandra Gunning

Today, long after the demise of old European empires the United States as a superpower is expected to intervene in anti-totalitarian revolutions around the world, and since 9/11 U.S. troops have invaded and occupied entire nations, as was the case with Iraq, and is the case now with Afghanistan. Given its far reach, is the United States now the face of 21st-century empire? If the destiny of every empire is to rise and then fall, when will “the end” arrive for the United States?

Ren Farley

There are only five times every century when the Decennial Census is taken in a presidential election year. Many key decisions that will shape the political future of the country will be made in the next year and a half. This promises to be a very contentious process, as there are already challenges to the 2020 Census. And, previous censuses have had challenges – even with less cause – because reapportionment is always about shifting power and money. This course will provide an opportunity to understand the intersection of the census and elections as well as the connection between voting rights and elections. Students will learn how we use census data to distribute political power; to define apportionment and/or redistricting populations to advantage one population vs another; to examine two completely opposite political movements underway regarding voting rights; to examine differences in voter eligibility, voter access and vote counting across states; and to gain practical skills in using data for mobilization efforts. The course will also cover legislation and court cases that have used data to address apportionment, redistricting, gerrymandering and voting rights and will extend beyond the state of Michigan. This 1-credit course will be a lecture/lab format. The labs do not assume/require any statistical or programming expertise on the part of the student. The grade will be based on lab exercises and a short policy brief.

Featured Course
Melissa Phruksachart

This course explores the various myths and narratives that American film has produced around the issue of im/migration. The films we’ll study will grapple with some of the following questions: what does it mean to become American? How have the technologies of race, gender, sexuality, and ability shaped the idea of the model citizen? How does the idea of the United States as a “nation of immigrants” operate in tension with histories of indigenous genocide and chattel slavery? What other forms of migration and movement—gentrification, refugeeism, climate displacement, class mobility, incarceration, space exploration, the road trip—structure the idea of America as the land of dreams? In particular, we’ll center filmmakers who draw on marginalized histories, knowledges, and aesthetics to challenge unfreedom in the service of imagining new forms of collectivity. Films may include those directed by Julie Dash, Mira Nair, Kelly Reichardt, Lulu Wang, and Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera.

Featured Course
Mark Burde

The United States is probably more politically and culturally polarized than it has been at any point since the early 1970s. This course is designed for students of any political persuasion who would like to think through why this is and to begin, at a personal level, to remedy the situation. It is not a course in either political science or in history, but, rather, a humanistic inquiry into a number of the fundamental tenets underlying all worthwhile college study: freedom of speech and of expression but also empathetic inquiry and good-faith exchange of opinions and ideas. It is designed for students who recognize the benefit of having their convictions questioned and even constructively challenged and feel vaguely dissatisfied when surrounded by peers who think exactly as they do. Readings will range from classic works by John Milton and John Stuart Mill to recent psychological, sociological, journalistic and political studies by Jonathan Haidt, Joe Bageant, J.D. Vance, and others. Students will also participate in several of the on-campus fora organized by the We Listen student group based in the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and will be encouraged over the course of the term to cultivate an extended conversation with a person (relative, acquaintance, or fellow student) holding differing views from theirs on a topic of their choosing.

Anne Pitcher

This course relies on cross-national comparisons and case studies to explore the operation of democratic institutions in Africa; the strengths and weaknesses of party systems; the causes of election related violence; and the opinions of voters. It also examines cases of pernicious polarization, democratic erosion, and the durability of authoritarian regimes across the continent drawing on comparisons with more established democracies such as the United States, where appropriate. Finally the course analyzes Africa’s contemporary political economy by debating the growth of the middle class, the drivers of urbanization, and Chinese investment.

Johnathan Wells

Ever wonder how today’s politics might be different from campaigns and elections in the past? Has America always had two main political parties? What is the Electoral College anyway? Could college students always vote? Through books, essays, and films, this class will cover American national and local elections from the country’s founding to the Election of 2020. As a Residential College First Year Seminar, this class fulfills the first year writing requirement and will include a series of papers and will culminate in a longer final essay.

Featured Course
Lisa Disch

This is an upper-level political theory class designed for sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have had some previous exposure to political theory. I hope it will renew or help sustain your faith in democracy (because, honestly, commitment to big ideals like democracy is an act of faith). We take a close look at different answers to the question of how democracy works—how it organizes collective action; how it makes individuals into citizens; and why mass voters fail at that role—through classic and contemporary scholarly works and through the lens of two crises affecting the Great Lakes: the Great Lakes Water Compact (which I imagine you may not have heard of) and the Flint Water Crisis. We will make our classroom a laboratory for democratic experimentation as we will run two simulated Citizens’ Juries—one on the Great Lakes Water Compact decision to divert water to Waukesha, WI and one on Flint. Each of you, as jurors, will write briefs that will enable you to research and debate the controversies at the heart of these conflicts.

Mara Ostfeld

There are over 500,000 registered voters in Detroit. The vast majority are of color. Fewer than half of them voted in the 2016 presidential election. In this community-based learning course, students will explore rates of political participation, including: Who votes? What affects rates of voter turnout? How much do these rates vary by race, gender, and national origin? How can we increase rates of electoral participation, particularly in historically marginalized communities? And, what are the implications for American democracy? Working in groups, students will design, implement and analyze their own experiments with the goal of increasing electoral participation in the 2020 election through door-to-door outreach in Detroit.

Walter R. Mebane

Statistical methods can help assess whether the claimed winner of an election really won. This gets tricky for many reasons: many voters act strategically; and voting technologies are complicated. This course reviews these methods—everything from analyzing precinct and voting machine election returns to post-election audits. Registration restricted to majors.

Thomas Princen

This course examines extreme events—e.g., fires, floods, heat waves, cold snaps—for their social effects. It looks for both short-term response (emergency response, immediate impacts, recovery and rebuild) and long-term response (changes in living patterns, in relations to natural systems, in consumption and mobility) and how those responses vary with cultural setting, socioeconomic position, inequality and power. Throughout, the course will look for opportunities to use extreme events to create a more sustainable and just society. For this it will examine historical cases—e.g., 1789 Lisbon earthquake and fires, 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fires, the 1889 Johnstown flood, and the Peshtigo Wisconsin fire—and contemporary cases—e.g., 2002 heat wave in Europe, the 2017 Santa Rosa fire, and the 2018 rain bomb in Houston. The course thus approaches extreme events from a multitude of perspectives, including those of climate, history, sociology, engineering, political science, planning and even some literature and art.

Jo Angela Oehrli

What is “fake news” anyway? Are we living in a post-truth world? This course will provide opportunities to discuss and analyze news production, consumption and evaluation. Students will develop the critical thinking skills necessary to be an informed citizen; understand how their worldview affects their interpretation of the news; and create a personal strategy for fact-checking and evaluating the news. Topics include types of “fake news” such as misinformation and disinformation; economic and technological contexts of the news media; psychological and social factors of media consumption; and the impact of news on our society.

Stuart Soroka

There is a growing body of work in political communication that emphasizes the importance of affect, emotion and personality in politics. Our sensitivity to threat or disgust; our reactions of fear, or anger, or happiness; our tendency to focus more on negative than on positive information - each of these can impact the way we feel about candidates, and our positions on a wide range of domestic and foreign issues. Of course, many of these feelings are in reaction to mass-mediated information; and changing media technologies likely increases the volume of affective or emotional content reaching the public. This course reviews path-breaking work on these themes, with a focus on the ongoing 2020 presidential election campaign.

Charles Shipan

A critical introduction to American politics with an emphasis on elections and public opinion; the functioning of political parties and interest groups; decision-making in the national congress, the presidency, and the federal courts; and the connections (or lack thereof) between democratic processes and public policies.

Featured Course
Mazammil Hussain

This course offers a three-part framework for thoughtfully understanding and situating issues and challenges surrounding global “hacktivism”—the subversive use of computers and networks to protect and promote freedom and democracy. Part 1 introduces students to recent events and issues surrounding hacking and whistleblowing that have disrupted international affairs. Part 2 introduces students to a framework for understanding the relationships between information- communication technologies and political power. Part 3 introduces students to emergent issues and ways of thinking through the processes of innovation and governance of political technologies. In addition to course readings, students will have an opportunity to engage with course concepts through the mediums of movies, novels and games

Lydia Kelow-Bennett

The course is a survey of the field of African American Studies, which primarily examines how African Americans have affected and been affected by the development and growth of the United States as a democracy. Topics covered include citizenship, antiblack racism, enslavement, voting, policing, gender and sexuality, civil rights, protest and activism, legalized racism, federal government policies, Black culture, and civil discourse in the digital age, among many other things.

Patrick Peel

This course will examine American political development as it has interacted with the legal and constitutional order from the Founding to the late twentieth century. The readings for the class will give us a normative and historical/causal point of view by which to evaluate, organize, and understand the contribution of American law to social change and the nation’s civic and political development.

Leila Kawar

What does social justice mean today? What has it meant historically? Is there such a thing as a social right? This course explores how American policymakers have implemented their responsibility to assure social welfare in the areas of labor relations, workplace safety, wages and working hours, and social protection programs. It begins at the turn of the 20th century with debates concerning the constitutionality of social policy and ends with contemporary debates about applying social justice values to the digital-platform economy.

Nicholas Valentino

This course focuses on the role and importance of mass media in the political process. The interaction between the press, politicians, and the public during political campaigns receives detailed attention. Topics include: + how news is made + campaign strategies + political advertising effects + relations between Congress, the President, and the media + the role of mass media in political campaigns.

Ted Brader

This course concerns the effects of the media on the opinions, beliefs, and choices of citizens. We consider news coverage, political ads, debates, Internet usage, and more personal forms of communication. Our primary focus is American politics with some comparisons to other countries.

David Halperin

What good is expressing what you truly believe? This seminar will examine how the act of speaking the truth in a situation of possible danger can function as an exercise of freedom and a practice of the self. It takes off from Michel Foucault’s analysis of what the ancient Greeks called parrhêsia: the act of speaking one’s entire mind in a particular situation, saying to someone what one really believes to be true, without holding anything back and without regard for the risks or consequences. In the political culture of classical Athens, parrhesia represented a democratic privilege to which each citizen was entitled: it was a sign and expression of freedom and the guarantor of an egalitarian society. But parrhesia need not be limited to its original context. Its meaning continued to evolve in the ancient Greek world, acquiring new philosophical dimensions along the way. It offers a model of defiant, unguarded, forthright truth-telling that remains of potential interest today, at a time when speech—both in the public sphere and in academic life—is subject to many kinds of regulation and constraint, and when the act of freely speaking one’s mind, once again, requires courage. What can the fearless expression of an unsafe truth achieve today? How do different social actors practice the art of parrhesia? What kind of speech holds out the promise of challenging contemporary formations of power? What are the social worlds, or social conditions, that favor parrhesia? Does parrhesia have a future? The seminar will begin by reviewing Foucault’s final lectures on parrhesia and “the courage of truth.” It will then examine some of the ancient Greek and Christian texts that Foucault studied. It will go on to consider early modern instances of parrhesia and will conclude by surveying relatively recent versions, including contemporary feminist and queer practices of parrhesia.

Featured Course
Brian Weeks

Inaccurate beliefs about politics are prevalent in America and held about a range of political actors and issues. Once they take hold, misperceptions are often difficult to correct and can impact democratic outcomes. This capstone seminar explores several factors that contribute to the spread of political misinformation and the rise of misperceptions, including the roles of media, technology, and psychological biases. The course will also examine the consequences of inaccurate political beliefs and investigate various communication strategies and media campaigns utilized to correct misperceptions. The goals for the course are for you to better distinguish political fact from fiction, understand why and how misinformation is spread and believed, consider the democratic effects of false information, and evaluate ways to overcome inaccurate political beliefs.

Joshua Rabinowitz

This course will explore theoretical approaches to understanding political attitudes and ideology, decision-making processes and voting, and prejudice and group conflict. Both historical and contemporary approaches in social psychology, personality psychology, political science, and sociology will be covered. Most (but not all) of the readings will be empirical research papers. Prerequisite: PSYCH 111 or 112 or 114 or 115

Featured Course
Anthony Marcum

This course explores the reconstruction of public health as a central factor for domestic and international actors to address in postwar transitions. We will examine how violence on the battlefield has direct and indirect effects on the health of individuals in the postwar era, as well as the long-term costs including the diversion of essential resources to the fight and the massive rebuilding costs of the infrastructure to promote basic health outcomes. Finally, the course will consider whether the provision of public health and the attending professionals can reduce the likelihood of a return to violence. Examples covered in the course will include Syria, the former Yugoslavia, Uganda, and Sierra Leone. In the course, students will critically assess various theoretical and policy perspectives to address the health consequences of fighting to arrive at a broader understanding of possible intervention strategies to restore a society’s wellbeing.

Vincent Hutchings

A study of the nature and formation of public opinion and the antecedents of political participation. The influence of personality, class, religion, and race as well as family, peer group, school, and media is examined.

Angela Dillard

This First Year Seminar explores the interconnections between race and democracy from both the perspective of exclusion in the ways that race worked to exclude African Americans and other nonwhite peoples, and inclusion as African Americans led an inter-generational series of struggles to expand the rights of all citizens. Exploring a variety of primary and secondary sources, from the 1619 Project to the current election season, together we will consider facets of the contradiction that lies at the heart of a “free nation” born in the midst of slavery and ongoing efforts to create a truly interracial democratic nation.

Amal Fadlalla

This course is relevant to debates on democratic processes because it explains the varied experiences of immigrants and refugees in America and elsewhere to our students. An important aspect that students learn in this class is that the political processes that define the often-conflated meanings attached to the refugee, immigrant, and diaspora population cannot be divorced from histories of nationalism and transnationalism and their deeply rooted constructions in gender, race, ethnic, and class relations. Race, ethnicity, and sexism are significant components, and the course addresses them through cross-cultural ethnographies, media reports, documentary films, dialogue with quest speakers, art, and other texts to explain how citizens and non-citizens are marked differently based on both legal and cultural terminologies.

Andrea Kelley

This course will explore access to reproductive health care, including contraception, comprehensive sex education, STI prevention and care, prenatal and postnatal care, childbirth options, abortion, and parenting/family support. Using an interdisciplinary framework, we will examine the history of U.S. reproductive health policy through and including current public discussion surrounding reproductive rights. We will also explore how race, gender, and social status shape and affect access to reproductive health care in the U.S. Prerequisite: one introductory sociology course.

Sueann Caulfield

*Note: this course is collaboratively taught by UM Prof. Caulfield and Brazilian Federal Judge and Law Professor Carlos Haddad. Via video-conferencing and the internet, UM students will engage in weekly discussions and participate in group projects with students in Prof. Haddad’s law school seminar at the Federal University of Minas Gerais.For over half a century, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has played a key role in defining shared aspirations for democracy and social justice in our hemisphere. Initially criticized as an instrument of U.S. Cold War policy, the Commission was transformed in the wake of the Latin American “human rights era” of the late 1970s and 1980s. By the early twenty-first century, struggles launched by a multitude of grass-roots social movements, in alliance with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), had transformed both the meaning of human rights and the efforts by the Commission to defend these rights throughout the Americas. More recently, as nationalist regimes of both the left and right reject universal norms and international institutions, the IACHR is again under attack and today faces budget cuts and a massive backlog of cases. It is a critical moment to reflect on its history.

Featured Course
Hailey Mooney

This course explores how fake news is a social problem and places it within the larger issue of information disorder. We will use a sociological lens to analyze the modern information environment; broadly, to understand what we determine to be the “truth”—and specifically to examine the interplay of social reality, information, and the public good. A central theme is the relationship between information, democracy, and capitalism. The role of information technology and other social forces will be examined in the context of the current post-truth polarized era.

Edie Goldenberg

This course focuses on three related questions: 1) why is the percentage of eligible college students who vote so low? 2) what are the consequences of their low levels of turnout? and 3) what can be done about it?

Anthony Collings

This seminar evaluates media coverage of the U.S. Supreme Court in the context of long-range factors affecting the ability of news media to function in a democracy, examining the scope and content of print, broadcast, and new-media news reporting on major cases before the court. In addition to gaining a broad overview of media coverage of current and recent cases, each student is expected to select one case from the current or past court term and study its media coverage in detail.

William Currie

The Great Lakes region includes the 5 Great Lakes, parts of eight US states and Canada. It is an economically important region, with seven major cities and is home to over 30 million people. It has extreme variability in land use and human impacts, from pristine, wildland ecosystems in the north to completely human-dominated landscapes of industrial agriculture in the south, with fragmented forests and rural landscapes in between. This course will address six to eight sustainability issues or ‘wicked’ environmental problems in the region. Wicked issues are those that cross disciplines, cross cultures, cross ecosystems and scales, and that have multiple types of stakeholders that often do not agree on the definition of the problem. The course will use a case study approach. Rather than learning general principles about a single discipline, students will undertake an in-depth analysis of each issue, building multiple layers of understanding that draw from a range of disciplines and perspectives. Specific case studies are still being developed, but are likely to include issues like the following: harmful algal blooms and dead zones in Lake Erie; forest management, forest jobs, forest fragmentation and habitat loss; wetland loss, invasive species, management, and restoration; sediments, harbor dredging, shipping, and coastal stressors; urban sprawl into exurban and rural landscapes; water quality, water withdrawals, and industrial water use.

Featured Course
Kenneth Lowande

A survey of the development of the office and functions of the chief executive and an analysis of the sources and nature of executive power in American national and state government. Primary attention is given to the presidency.

Featured Course
Ashley Lucas

This course will teach students about restorative justice, reconciliation, and atonement. We will explore questions of why and how artistic activity can begin and/or support processes of reconciliation for people who have committed crimes and for crime victims. Students in this class will facilitate weekly arts workshops in adult prisons, juvenile detention centers, and community venues where former prisoners, crime victims, and the families of those groups can gather together. The workshops will produce original performances, creative writing, and visual art presented at the end of the semester by both the student facilitators and the members of the workshop. Ultimately this course seeks to identify the best strategies for using the arts to address crime, the carceral system, and those most affected by them.

Hadji Baraka

Refugees are too often treated as invisible peoples: without a home, a history, a future, or a politics. This course contests those assumptions. It introduces students to an extraordinary archive of literature written by and about refugees, migrants, and stateless peoples over the last century. Readings will include novels, poems, essays, films, art, and performances from writers originating in South Africa, Italy, Greece, China, Botswana, Palestine, Kenya, Vietnam, Israel, Morocco, Somalia, Britain, Germany, and the United States. Through readings, class discussions, and written and oral assignments, students will rethink some of the most important topics in contemporary life: security, humanity, borders, mobility, the human, the state, race, class, and citizenship.

Anne Gere

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” In this course we will look at how happiness has been represented and experienced by various populations in the United States from 1776 to the present. To do this we will read literature by European American, African American, Native American, Chinese American, Latinx American, and Arab American writers. Interspersed among literary texts will be several texts about theories and measures of happiness, along with music, art, film/TV and, especially, advertising that focuses on happiness. As we read these texts we will ask questions like these: How do literary texts give us access to understandings about what happiness means to people who differ by gender, race, ethnicity, and historical moment? And what do these texts obscure? How do our own conceptions of happiness shift as we consider multiple texts on the topic? How do non-literary texts represent or obscure the intersection of race with other identifications, especially those based on gender and sexuality?

Featured Course
Naomi Silver

Writing 100: The Practice of Writing is a transitional course for incoming first-year students who wish to gain experience writing at UM before taking their required FYWR course. The topic of my section of Writing 100, The Rhetoric of Citizenship, aims to engage new college students in thinking about what it means to be a citizen in a community (like UM); in a democracy (like the U.S.); and in the world, in relation to other citizens with other experiences and interests. We will read materials (and possibly attend performances and/or art events, if available on campus) connected to U.S. history (such as the 14th Amendment, episodes of the podcast Seeing White, essays by James Baldwin), to contemporary experiences of migration, and to current political events leading up to the November election. Students will write about a process of entering a community, they will conduct an interview with someone on their understanding of citizenship, they will research an aspect of citizenship of special interest to them, and they will re-mediate that research essay for a particular audience and purpose (e.g., creating a video or infographic).

Robert Mickey

Many observers think US democracy is in big trouble. How much trouble? How did we get here? How do we fix things? We will tackle these questions by comparing the US to other democracies, and by comparing today’s situation to America’s recent past. By the end of the semester, you should have a good toolkit of concepts and theories useful in assessing how well American democracy is functioning. In particular, you will become practiced at judging experts’ evaluations, which range from the usual complacency of scholars specializing in American politics to cries of “the sky is falling!”. Moreover, you will develop good habits of thought to help you determine which kinds of cross-national comparisons are productive and which aren’t. Finally, you will begin to think through not just the “wisdom” of potential cures to what ails the U.S., but also the political viability of these reform proposals.

Nadine Hubbs

According to ideals of American exceptionalism, we live in a classless society. But according to mounting evidence, twenty-first-century America is a class-bound society with historic, widening gulfs—economic, social, educational, and cultural—between upper and lower strata. What does class look like in America, and beyond? How, where, and by whom is it created & perpetuated, and how does it play out? Through readings, media, and discussion this seminar examines class on the ground and in various sites. Throughout our discussions and written work we will consider the roles of gender, race, ethnicity, and history.

Featured Course
Sigrid Anderson

From organizing protests during the Arab Spring to hashtags amplifying movements like #metoo and #blacklivesmatter to fake news and deep fakes, the digital has become an inextricable part of political activism. In this course, we’ll seek to understand the role of the digital in democratic discourse and political debate by considering how the digital has been harnessed to create community, shift public opinion, and increase divisiveness. We’ll also step back and ask what it means to take the digital - and the communities that make use of it - as objects of study.

Sascha Crasnow

How can art be a means of resistance? Is the sheer production of art under systems of oppression an act of resistance in and of itself? How does art manage to thrive under systems of oppression? How do we judge the aesthetic and activist aspects of a work of art? This course looks at how art has been used as a form of resistance against oppression and subjugation in the broadest sense: including governmental, societal, and domestic oppression. We will examine contemporary artists and works on a global scale including artist responses to the Civil Rights Movement in the U.S., May ’68 in France, Palestinian resistance since 1948, Mexican muralism, international responses to recent wars in the Middle East and other global neo-colonial interventions, global feminist and queer rights movements, and socially-engaged art practices around the world. Additionally, we will also look at attempts by hegemonic powers to censor art deemed subversive.

Scott Larson

In 2014, Time Magazine announced “The Transgender Tipping Point” as the “next civil rights frontier.” Even as transgender celebrities including Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox have drawn national audiences, bathrooms have become battlegrounds for gender justice, and trans people have been targeted by hate crimes and state violence. While trans rights may appear to be a relatively new phenomenon, even a “frontier,” transgender and gender non-conforming people and communities have a long history in American Culture.This course seeks to explore contemporary transgender movements, politics, and identities in historical context. Throughout the course, we will be particularly attentive to the ways that race, class, citizenship, and ability are connected to gender variance, and we will highlight the scholarship and activism of trans people of color. This course seeks to explore contemporary transgender movements, politics, and identities in historical context. Throughout the course, we will be particularly attentive to the ways that race, class, citizenship, and ability are connected to gender variance.

Brian Weeks

This course offers an in-depth examination of the role of journalism and news in our society. During the semester we willfocus on how news differs from other types of information we encounter. We will learn how news is made and think about how the news we see is shaped by multiple individual, organizational, political, economic, or technical factors, many of which are unseen. The course will emphasize how technological changes have altered not only how audiences receive and engage news but also how journalists conduct their work. We will discuss the importance of having a free and open press in a democratic society. The goals for this course are to better understand what news is, why it is important, and to think critically about the role of journalism in our society and in your own life.

David Gold

In this class, we’ll examine women rhetors who challenged and complicated rhetorical conventions in order to make their voices heard. In addition to organized social movements such as abolition, suffrage, labor, and equal rights, we’ll also consider less-formal channels through which women have engaged the public sphere, such as music, journalism, and digital activism. Throughout we will pay close attention to how women have used language to effect social change. We will also pay close attention to issues that have both united and divided women, especially along lines of race, class, and culture. This class welcomes students from any academic major and requires no prerequisite study, just a desire to learn more about women’s rhetorical practices and a willingness to engage in critical reading, writing, and research in a discussion-based classroom.

Featured Course
Angela Dillard

This two-credit mini-course is a multidisciplinary exploration of the meanings of democracy that is co-created across a variety of departments in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts. Democracy has been called “the worst form of government … except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” This paradoxical observation threads throughout the course in sessions that range from discussions of democracy in ancient Athens to the rhetorics of democracy in contemporary U.S elections; considers the meanings of democracy in a global perspective; explores the psychology of voting; and the role that debates about science have played in recent elections both in the U.S. and abroad. Each week faculty experts will contribute course content and lead discussions with the goal of creating complex understandings of what democracy was, is and can be. Enrollment spots will be set aside for 50 First Year students, 50 Sophomores, 50 Juniors and 50 Seniors.

Sabine Gabaron

In this course students will explore French and American cultural differences by examining the American upcoming elections and comparing them with the French political system. After comparing the two political systems and how/when/where people vote in the two countries, the course will address three main themes: education, health care systems and immigration.

Featured Course
Giulia Ricco

How can an ideology that seems to fit so perfectly the needs of a particular national experience adapt to many different historical, social, and economic contexts? In its global approach to fascism, this course aims to show that since its theorization in the early twentieth century, this ideology has produced similar trends in state violence in disparate geographical spaces. We will begin the class by defining fascism and looking at how it was precisely through a set of cultural practices that it was able to implement its powerful ideology in Italy, Spain, Portugal, and across the Atlantic in Brazil, Argentina, and the US. We will read the American novel It Can’t Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis and we will watch Italian films that show the conditions under which fascism was developed. We will also visit the University of Michigan Special Collections to look at the actual propagandistic fascist (and anti-fascist) materials. Course taught in English.

Lawrence LaFountain-Strokes

This course is an exploration of Latinx literature and culture in the United States. What role does language play in Latinx culture? What is Latinx and how is it different from Latina/o? How is a language a part of different communities and cultural productions? How do Latinx artists and writers use language in their work? In this class, we will examine film, literature, music, performance, and video, and see the use of Spanish, English, Spanglish, Pachuco Caló, and other language varieties, and how language proficiency affects the social experience. Analysis will focus on the role of age, class, ethnicity, family, gender, generational differences, geographical location, historical period, immigrant status, place of birth, race, and sexual orientation as these relate to linguistic usage in the works studied, and on the specific effects and uses of language in cultural productions.

Gerald R. ford School of Public Policy Back to top

Christian Davenport

This course will focus on both state and non-state contentions in the U.S. and globally, including strikes, protests, boycotts, and other types of intrastate conflict. The course will include coverage of contentions and conflicts in the United States relevant to the November 2020 presidential election. Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority.

John Schwarz

This course discusses the democratic election and functioning of representative bodies in the United States, including both Congress and state legislatures. Gerrymandering, redistricting, and term limits will be covered, along with important current issues in Congress and the Michigan State Legislature. John J.H. “Joe” Schwarz, a lecturer at the Ford School, was elected to the Michigan Senate from 1987 until 2002, serving as President Pro Tempore of the Senate from 1993 until 2002. From 2005 to 2007 he was a Republican Member of Congress. He currently serves on the board of directors of Voters Not Politicians, a statewide organization working that successfully pursued ballot initiatives to end gerrymandering in Michigan’s congressional and legislative districts. Open to all undergraduates; Ford students may have priority

Broderick Johnson

Broderick Johnson served as the chairman of My Brother’s Keeper, an interagency task force created by the Obama Administration to identify and address the disparities that hamper the success of boys and young men of color, and to improve the lives of all youth. He was appointed Deputy Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs under President Clinton and Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary under President Obama. No prereqs; Ford students may have priority.

Javed Ali/Carl Landwehr

Course Description: Future leaders will need to understand the science, technology, public policy, and national security considerations behind cybersecurity well enough to make informed decisions when provided advice and options for action. Over the last decade cybersecurity issues have risen in prominence in both the public and private spheres, with an increasing interrelationship between what have traditionally been two distinct domains. There have been near daily reports regarding cyber operations launched by nation states, hacking groups, criminal organizations, and other malign actors against a variety of targets, using different tools and methods, and with different effects. The U.S. government has attempted to reorganize and reorient towards this multi-dimensional threat, in addition to private industry, state and local governments, and academia—but despite this increased focus there are still several gaps and vulnerabilities that deserve technical and policy attention and solutions. As we head towards another Presidential election in November 2020, these issues will remain at the forefront given what occurred in the last elections and the use of sophisticated cyber means to influence public opinion, sow political divisions, potentially compromise election results, and demonstrate a capability that was not fully operationalized.

This class will examine the broad landscape of cybersecurity from both a technical and policy perspective. It will introduce the fundamental concepts of computing and cyber security, including information theory, computability, cryptography, networking fundamentals, how vulnerabilities arise, and how attacks work. In addition, it will explore foundational ideas including definitions, cyber norms, and ethics; identify existing U.S. laws, authorities and governmental constructs; and frame classic security concepts like deterrence, attribution, offense, defense, and retaliation—which will be accentuated by expert perspectives from a range of guest speakers . Graded assignments will entail policy papers designed to explore technical concepts and policy positions on different cybersecurity topics, student-led panel discussions on topics related to weekly syllabus themes, and a simulated policy meeting where students will have the choice of assuming different corporate or Federal government roles and examine potential courses of action in response to a cybersecurity crisis scenario.

Betsey Stevenson

This is a course on how economists think about government revenue and government expenditures: how governments raise and spend public money. Public Finance is a subfield of microeconomics. In the course, we will begin by delving more deeply into rationales for government intervention in the market (introduced in Micro A/B), including public goods, externalities, and equity. We will then use the tools of economics to analyze a number of important public policy issues, such as public health insurance, social security, and anti-poverty programs. The second part of the course will cover tax policy, and we will explore how the burden of taxation is distributed, how taxes affect the economic behavior of individuals and firms, and options to reform the tax system. The course will cover the theory of public finance in depth, but the ultimate aim will always be to apply the concepts to real world policies and programs. Toward that end, we will spend substantial time both inside and outside of the classroom applying the concepts and reviewing existing empirical evidence. The course focuses on the US, but we will discuss comparisons with other countries from time to time. Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority.

Featured Course
Gerald Hills

There is no policy without victory. More precisely, well-planned and well-executed political campaigns win elections and make governing possible. Therefore, an understanding of government must first be grounded in an understanding of campaigns and elections. This course will introduce you to the art and science of political campaigning. Topics to be covered will include crafting a message, scheduling and time management, research, issues, polling, speeches, debates, working with the press, identifying, differentiating and targeting voters, coalitions and interest groups, budgeting and fundraising, field organization, crisis management, the political environment, and Get Out The Vote efforts. The course is taught by Rusty Hills, former chair of the Michigan Republican Party and former director of public affairs for Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority

Barry George Rabe

This course introduces students to the adoption and implementation of environmental policy, with primary emphasis on the United States. It draws heavily from the discipline of political science in examining environmental politics and how this body of theory translates into public policy. Unlike many policy courses that focus exclusively on either national or international institutions, this course will concentrate on federal, state, and local governance and relations across these levels. In turn, we will frequently compare the respective abilities of state and federal governments to both enact and implement environmental policy, drawing on past experience to consider what the next generation of American environmental policy might entail. Open to all undergraduates; Ford students may have priority.


Students will explore the global issues of illegal drugs, and international drug trafficking, crime and terrorism. Course content emphasizes the study of organizations and networks, policy formulation and implementation, national and international approaches and programs, and the international legal and organizational framework to deal with these issues. The instructor will devote attention to the similarities and links between illegal drugs, crime and terrorism. Students will analyze the conflict between vigorous pursuit of solutions to these issues and other foreign and public policy objectives and how this affects the national interests and foreign policies of the nations and organizations involved. Students will assess lines of action that national and international policy makers might initiate to find solutions to these problems. The instructor will place emphasis on the tools and skills needed for policy analysis and the formulation of effective recommendations for decision making. Case studies, group exercises and simulations will be used throughout the course and there will be a number of policy writing assignments.Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority.

Susan Collins/Sander Levin

In this seminar, students will confront major challenges in moving policy initiatives forward. The course will focus on two important policy arenas – U.S. Unemployment Insurance (70+ years of failure to reform), and US-China trade relations (evolving challenges). Drawing in depth from vital experiences on these topics, students will learn about the panoply of efforts involved in designing and implementing policy – including interactions among the clash of policy perspectives, the role of personal relationships, the importance of obstacles to coalition building, and the impact of messaging and public opinion. The course will be co-taught by an applied economist and a legislator centrally involved in the dynamics of policymaking, enabling students to gain insights about the realities of policy-making, and the role of leadership in complex policy arenas. Students will have opportunities to hone their written and oral presentation skills, and to apply the tools developed in new contexts. No prereqs; Ford students may have priority.

Featured Course
Edie Goldenberg/John Chamberlain/Oliver Thornton

In this project-based course students will learn how to produce Public Service Announcements (PSAs) in support of public policy objectives. Students will study, conceive and produce a Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign to inspire student voter registration and turnout for the November 2020 election. Students will analyze effective messaging campaigns and the conceptualize and produce a series of PSA and social media messages to encourage their peers to take part in the election process. The class will then analyze and study the results of the campaign in the weeks following the November election. Open to all undergraduates; Ford students may have priority.

Sarah Mills

This course considers the range of state and local policies that impact renewable energy development, understanding how these policies interact, and understanding the politics at play behind their adoption. It covers not just on policies traditionally associated with climate action—such as the carbon tax, cap and trade, RPS or municipal climate pledges—but also the suite of policies that facilitate or hinder that development from state tax policy to local land use laws regulation to infrastructure investment, and the interactions between these policies. It also explores the diverse stakeholders who shape these policies and the motivations behind their positions—from economic development, to energy independence, to landowners’ rights. Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority.

Yazier Henry

How are the inherent and intersecting relations of power including inherent structures of dominance related to the experience of violence, oppression and resistance textured into the context of politics and policy making? This course investigates how multifaceted historical relationships of traumatic experience including Colonization, Slavery and Apartheid can be related to the ways in which we think about policy. This course takes a multidisciplinary approach to how the production of culture, ecology, psychology, law, economics and politics frames the sociology and historiography of the policymaking context. This course provides the opportunity for students to improve their analytical abilities. Whilst the material content used in this course will have a global focus, local issues will also be considered. Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority.

Featured Course
Hardy Vieux

Hardy Vieux is the Vice-President, Legal for Human Rights First, an independent advocacy and action organization that uses American influence to protect human rights and the rule of law. He manages legal representation, amicus brief, and legal outreach efforts. Under his leadership, Human Rights First is challenging the U.S. Department of Justice’s “safe third country” agreements with Guatemala and its “Remain in Mexico” policy, both efforts to reduce the number of asylum seekers applying to the United States. Open to all graduate students; Ford students may have priority.

Law School Back to top

Michael Steinberg

This course examines how civil rights lawyers use federal civil rights litigation to address contemporary social problems. Students will develop and litigate a simulated case based on an actual racial profiling controversy in Ann Arbor. They will gain experience in client interviewing, public records requests, complaint drafting, responding to motions to dismiss, oral argument, depositions and negotiations. Students will learn how to overcome the many procedural obstacles to justice posed by 42 U.S.C. section 1983 and explore the ethical issues faced by public interest lawyers when representing clients in civil rights cases. The course will also emphasize how litigation can be most effective in achieving social change when it is a part of an “integrated advocacy” campaign that includes public education, legislation and/or community action.

Margo Schlanger

This course addresses the core constitutional issue of equality, looking at race, gender, disability, and sexual orientation, and interweaving doctrinal and topical analysis. The Equal Protection Clause is the major constitutional text, but other constitutional provisions will also be relevant. Doctrinal issues will include the disparate intent/disparate effects argument, rational discrimination, and tiers of scrutiny. Topics will include school desegregation and criminal justice issues (both covered in particular depth, for their own sake and as important constitutional law case studies), same sex marriage, and single-sex schools. Readings will include both cases and (edited) law review materials.

Matthew Fletcher

This course explores the legal relationships between American Indian tribes and the United States and the various states. Major topics in the course include the history of federal Indian law and policy, congressional power with respect to Indian peoples and nations, principles of interpretation of laws and treaties regarding Indians, the nature of tribal sovereignty, and tribal, federal, and state jurisdiction in Indian country. In examining these topics, we will also discuss tribal recognition, gambling, taxation, and natural resources in Indian country, and the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Featured Course
Barbara McQuade

This course will examine the balance between protecting national security and safeguarding constitutional values. We will explore government tools designed to prevent and disrupt terrorist attacks and to detect espionage. We will also study the impact these tools have on privacy, free speech, free assembly, open courts, and transparency in government. Topics will include electronic surveillance conducted by NSA and FBI pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (“FISA”); investigative techniques authorized by the USA PATRIOT Act; use of informants and sting operations; the Classified Information Procedures Act (“CIPA”); the role and impact of leaks, such as those by Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks; detention of enemy combatants at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility and military tribunals; free speech implications of prohibiting material support to designated terrorist organizations; the use of immigration law to protect national security; exploitation of social media; free speech and assembly rights of domestic extremist groups; and related topics.

Michelle Crockett

This course will be an exploration and examination of American law and its direct involvement in defining race and minority status. We will analyze the implications of those legal definitions for minorities and non-minorities in the specific areas of education, housing, employment and the criminal justice system. The Constitution, case law, Executive Orders and other scholarly articles will guide our discussion on topics such as affirmative action, segregation, civil rights, immigration, redlining, federal contracting, racial profiling and the interplay of implicit bias. We will conclude our exploration of these phenomena with an analysis of the contemporary status of racial subordination in the legal system and the law’s limitations in effectuating racial equality within our society.

Ellen Katz

This course will explore the law governing the right to vote in the United States. It will examine the way the law and other forces have shaped the structure of American political participation, and will consider alternative directions American democracy might take. Topics will include the 2000 presidential election dispute, the individual right to vote, reapportionment, representation of minority interests in democratic bodies, preclearance procedures, political and racial gerrymandering, direct democracy, and alternative voting systems. A central aim of this course is to explore general issues of democratic theory in the context of the legal frameworks and the actual institutions that regulate American democracy.

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Emilia Askari/Julie Halpert

This course aims to give students an introduction to the world of mass media, with a strong emphasis on reporting and writing about the environment and public health. Students learn from two prize-winning journalists who have more than 40 years combined experience covering the environment and public health for media outlets such as The New York Times, Newsweek, The Detroit Free Press and National Public Radio. Each week, the course focuses on a different topic in the news related to the environment or public health, which may include alternative energy, the environmental future of the auto industry, energy efficiency, climate change, environmental justice, garbage, pandemics or cancer. Along the way, instructors lecture and steer discussions about media ethics, interviewing skills, freedom-of-information laws, the Internet as a source of information, government databases and many other journalism-related topics

Noah Hall

This course explores how our current legal system contributes to environmental problems and solutions. Through a series of case studies, we will first understand how the legal system builds on conceptions of individuality, property, sovereignty, and commodification to create environmental destruction and injustice. The case studies include the degradation of the Colorado River over the past century, the future of the Arctic region under climate change in the next century, and the present and ongoing taking of human life in the Flint water crisis. We will then explore alternative approaches to environmental law, including natural rights, community stewardship, and human rights protected under the Constitution.

Featured Course
Rolf Bouma

Students in this course reflect on and refine their own approach to environmental ethics through a close examination of a set of current environmental issues. They develop skills in detecting the value systems presently underlying public policy as expressed in laws, administrative regulations, and government action. Discussion and presentations by participants and by outside speakers who are professionals in the field will give insight into the challenges of meeting stakeholder expectations and forging a coherent, effective approach to environmental challenges. Issues such as water protection/preservation in the Great Lakes Basin, the sustainability and survivability of endangered species, the management of wildlife in rural, suburban, and urban areas, and formulation of energy policy will provide the basis for investigation.

Featured Course
Ivette Perfecto

The following questions form the basis of this course: What is neoliberal globalization? What impacts does it has on people and the environment? What is the popular response to globalization? What are the alternatives? What is your role? Through lectures, films, discussions, exercises and assignments, the course explores the concepts of globalization and alter-globalization with a focus on biodiversity, food, water and energy.

Stacy Coyle

This course examines the different philosophical perspectives on public lands and natural resources as well as the historic and ongoing acquisition, disposition, and management of the public domain. It explores the policy regimes and ensuing debates over the primary resources: minerals, timber, range, wildlife, recreation and preservation.

Josh Newell

In this course, students will be introduced to the concepts of sustainability, starting with definitions, interpretations, and practices pursued by different groups to achieve sustainability. Particular attention will be paid to the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to develop more effective approaches to the complex issues of sustainability we face now and in the future from the perspective of present and future stewardship of global systems. Students will learn how science can be integrated with policy and the humanities to achieve important sustainability goals, including reduced carbon emissions, diverse and robust ecosystems, reduced consumption and waste production, improved quality of life, and sustainable cities. Through a concentrated study of this emerging sphere we call sustainability, students will learn to articulate the relationships among observed phenomena, the principles and policies those observations can inform, particularly how best to integrate technology, education, and policy to best meet identified goals. By doing so, students will learn how to place individual and collective behavior in a context that better allows for consumption patterns that best promote sustainability.

Peter Adriaens

This course captures the entire spectrum of financing, trading, and investment approaches that has the objective to reduce emissions, scale capital allocations, and reduce material environmental risk in portfolios, while driving “green growth.” Once mainly focused on carbon markets (emissions trading) and CleanTech investing, environmental finance has become an entrepreneurial innovation space with applications encompassing the entire finance value chain, and all investment vehicles. Importantly, the shift towards environmental finance has driven new entrepreneurial opportunities in financial innovation of green technologies, assets, and economic growth. Examples such as green crowd-lending and crowd equity investments, solar microfinance, and innovating financing models such as Clean Power Finance have led the way. Graduate Standing Required

Philip D'Anieri

This course investigates the political imperatives and policy frameworks at the local, state, and national levels that drive land development in America. It leverages political science, history, law, and urban planning to understand how public policy does (and does not) guide land use patterns, and how it might do so differently in the future. The course uses the phenomenon of urban sprawl as a lens through which to integrate multiple disciplinary perspectives in a rich and nuanced understanding of policy change. Students are required to exercise, in written and oral work, their faculties of analysis and (especially) synthesis, unpacking a complex policy challenge into discrete elements and then analyzing the interplay among these elements.

School of Education Back to top

Michelle Jannette Bellino

This course examines the ways in which educational systems interact with conflict dynamics, as well as their potential to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction, peacebuilding, and democratization. We ask: what should states transitioning from conflict prioritize in the educational sector? What societal conditions support and constrain these educational efforts? And to what extent is it the responsibility of schools to teach about historical injustice?

Camille Wilson

This course introduces students to key concepts and processes of education policy analysis as they relate to the power dynamics, structures, and groups involved in planning, debating, implementing, and evaluating U.S. public schools and education systems. Critical perspectives pertaining to educational access, excellence, opportunity, and equity are highlighted. Emphasis is also placed on the historical, socioeconomic, and cultural contexts of educational initiatives that meaningfully impact today’s society in contested ways.

Featured Course
Jeff Kupperman/Michael Fahy

Education 362 is a civic engagement course that offers UM students an opportunity to engage deeply with issues of concern to young people in our state. Using a variety of custom-built deliberation, collaboration and decision-making tools, and leveraging principles of design thinking, students research and discuss issues, draft and debate proposals, and ultimately create a political platform representing the interests of students across Michigan, a platform that is presented at term’s end to legislators and agency heads at a special hearing in Lansing. The course offers students an opportunity to influence the political process, to identify problems and craft creative solutions, and to showcase one’s ideas in a real-world setting. It is open to any undergraduate student in the university.

Chauncey Monet Sano

Social studies classes are supposed to prepare K-12 students to be engaged citizens practiced in deliberation and discussion of historical and social issues. However, K-12 social studies classes do not always reflect these ideals. In this course, we will examine core goals of inquiry-based learning in social studies education and research on history and civics education that identifies effective approaches to teaching and teacher learning that support students’ learning through inquiry. During class sessions, we will focus on social studies education research as a common case study, but students in this class will have opportunities to explore research on inquiry learning and teaching in other school subject areas through class projects and assignments. (Note: This course is intended for Doctoral and Masters students).

School of Information Back to top

D Scott TenBrinck

This course aims to create information tools that support 21st-century citizenship. This is a project-based, experiential learning course where students apply their skills to create information products in partnership with a Michigan community. Students will work with partners in Michigan communities to deliver information tools and services that foster an engaged citizenry. Students will work in teams, travel to the partner community, and have support of administrative staff to manage projects.

David Wallace

Whether engaging in field work, updating one’s organizational approach, or partnering beyond your organization, knowing community members’ wants, needs, and aspirations can help your initiatives “land” with greater impact and value. This course provides multidisciplinary approaches to identifying those needs and engaging in collaborative partner activities

Sarita Schoenebeck

Online communities are central to how we work, play, learn, and socialize. But why are some successful? Why do so many fail? How can we improve interactions and experiences in online communities? In this course, we will be introduced to social science concepts and theories, such as identity, anonymity, moderation, and trust, and will learn to apply them in a variety of online contexts. This course will engage with hard topics that are relevant to online communities today, including race, gender, disability, politics, and violence.

Featured Course
Erin Krupka

This course introduces the major theories of social influence in psychology and economics so that you may become a better decision architect and an effective leader. In this course we will learn why and under the conditions in individual’s thoughts and actions can be influenced by those around them. We will touch on related theoretical ground in economics and in psychology but focus heavily on the empirical findings and how they can be applied to design and management tasks. The primary goal of this course is to realize a detailed picture of the traditional and contemporary thinking on this topic as it is addressed in economics and in social psychology and to have you applying the tools of influence from day one.

School of Music, Theater and Dance Back to top

Featured Course
Charles Garrett

This seminar centers on the topic of national identity as applied to and expressed by music and musicians of the United States. The course covers a wide spectrum of music-making, ranging from Amy Beach to Charles Ives to Childish Gambino. Students will gain familiarity with scholarship on musical nationalism and learn to apply these varied approaches to music of their choice. While the course centers on American music, its theoretical scope is designed to be useful for specialists in other musical traditions. Course requirements include intensive reading, listening, viewing, discussion, weekly assignments, and a research paper.

Aaron Dworkin

This course provides access to the greatest leaders from the fields of performing arts, arts administration, arts leadership and philanthropy who are also focused on the impact of the arts and social justice. Students have the opportunity for multi-faceted in-depth engagement and reflection with a different arts leader every week. The premise of the class is to ignite learning through inspiration from and role modeling by successful leaders and direct mentorship. Students engage with each leader in a virtual forum through interactive video lectures, including facilitated Q&A and group discussions. Following each guest leader session, students write and submit reflection papers. At the conclusion of the semester, students write a comprehensive final paper, based on their cumulative experiences with the guest leaders and the associated impact on their own career trajectory. In addition, students participate in an on-site practicum, where they have the opportunity to shadow, interview and observe a leader first-hand.

Nancy Uffner-Elliott

This is a one credit class for students with Junior or Senior standing. Students will explore why performing arts unions came into being, what some of them are, and how they impact the lives of performing artists, managers and producers. Evaluation is based on attendance, preparatory research, written assignments, and collaborative discussions and projects. 4.5 hours/week of work outside class is expected.

School of Nursing Back to top

Christine Anderson

This course is designed to provide students, as present and future leaders, with a basic understanding of the structure and function of government as it relates to the health of citizens and the practice of nursing. There is a focus on applying the concepts of leadership, advocacy and professionalism in the development of strategies for influence. Students will examine how individual or collective civic engagement effect issues relevant to nursing. Topics such as legislation and regulation, communication and the media and the role of professional organizations are addressed. Students will explore the impact of policy and politics on nursing practice within the context of a diverse and changing social and political environment.


This graduate level course engages students in (1) gathering polling data, survey information, and social networking data regarding the candidates, (2) predicting real time the “pulse of the nation” prior to, during, and after the second (UM-hosted) presidential debate in Fall 2020, and (3) drafting visualization apps illustrating the past, present, and forecasted trends of public opinions

Chrintine Anderson

(Prerequisite: Doctoral level status). This seminar examines the role of clinical leader in the development, analysis and transformation of institutional and public policy for healthcare and clinical practice. The role of leader is examined from the perspective of optimizing care delivery under existing policy and, when that is inadequate, influencing and shaping the redesign or development of new policy. The professional responsibility of the leader as an advocate to address health disparities and social injustices are stressed. Key themes include quality, access, equity, culture, and ethical decision-making.

School of Public Health Back to top

Featured Course
Ebbin Dotson

As the United States addresses health reform implementation, healthcare managers, administrators, and providers are vying for power in how to shape our national issues. We have paid particular attention to, in recent times, the disparities in quality health outcomes based on racial, ethnic, and language differences. While rising healthcare costs and the attempts to curb spending have received much of the attention, the solutions are strongly tied to eliminating health disparities. In this course, we will redefine knowledge of health disparities through a health equity lens to explore the implications of managerial solutions as they pertain to health care organizations. We will use systematic, clinical, and social issues of origin to both explain and try to resolve management’s role in addressing health equity. (Graduate Standing Required)

Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design Back to top

Featured Course
Stephanie Rowden

In this Engagement Studio we’ll run a high-energy, non-partisan, peer-to-peer creative campaign to increase college voting. Students will design and produce a range of pop-up events (in the classroom, around campus) as well as a lively social media campaign. Our goal: making the voting process less confusing, more visible and appealing. We’ll partner with students in Visual Communications Design for Voting, as well as a range of student orgs and units around campus.


Discursive design encompasses various types of object design like critical design, speculative design, design fiction, and “design for debate.” Despite their differences, they all use products as a means of discourse—to communicate ideas that have psychological, sociological, and ideological weight. These share the same general goals of some art—to inform, provoke, inspire, and persuade—but they use the processes, typologies, and aesthetics of industrial/product design. While discursive design’s popularity has grown over the last decade, relatively little theory exists, and even less practical guidance. This studio course challenges that—students will more deeply understand this young and evolving field, and explore nine different facets of a deliberate discursive design process. This course welcomes students with backgrounds, interests, and prerequisites in product/industrial design, HCI, graphic design, as well as art.

Irina Aristarkhova

“This course addresses what is going on right now - current affairs - and how artists and designers become part of the larger political, social and cultural landscape. The focus will be on creative work around the theme of justice as it relates to identity politics, with specific emphasis on forms that employ humor, satire, exaggeration and provocation. Students will be asked to design and conduct research projects about various inequalities (including on campus) and write about creative work related to identity politics (including their own work). Open to all students without restrictions

Hannah Smotrich

How can we use visual communication design to make voting more visible, less confusing — and fun? You will learn the ins and outs of the registration and voting processes in order to create work that motivates your peers and helps them better navigate this vital civic opportunity! Our process will be informed by research in behavioral science, experience design, information design and communications. We will be working in partnership with the Creative Campaign for Voting studio. Projects will include information design, environmental graphics, persuasive communications, signage and more!

a portrait of Angela Dillard
What makes Democracy & Debate distinctive is not only the contributions from across the university, but also the connection to the presidential election season and watch parties for the debates. This gives us the potential to have conversations that span the campus, the state and the globe. We’ve never had a theme semester with this kind of reach.
- Angela Dillard, Professor, U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts Chair, Presidential Debate Academic Advisory Committee