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Institute for Social Change

The Institute for Social Change (ISC) is a cohort-based spring program that allows students to explore the conceptual and practical dimensions of public scholarship—the diverse ways we can create and circulate knowledge for and with publics and communities. The program introduces graduate students to an array of publicly engaged scholarship, pedagogy, and practices focused on social change and university-community partnerships.

The 2021 ISC will take place remotely online May 17 to 20 and May 24 to 28. Participants can expect no more than two sessions per day, scheduled between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Each individual session will not be more than 90 minutes total. You will also need to complete short reflection-based assignments between program dates. A finalized program schedule with specific session times will be sent to participants in April.

This year’s online version of ISC will include short discussion-based panels, workshops, and conversations with publicly-engaged scholars, community members, and activists. The program will be anchored in opportunities for discussion, shared learning, structured reflection, collective imagination, and mutual support. Our keynote discussant will be Dean Spade, Associate Professor of Law at the University of Washington.

Over the course of the ISC, you will have the opportunity to connect with one another and reflect individually to develop and imagine your approaches to public scholarship. Students will have the opportunity to forge connections between their scholarly knowledge and pressing social issues; enhance their ability to develop and implement mutually beneficial projects in collaboration with community partners; explore opportunities for public scholarship and careers inside and outside the academy; and meet fellow graduate students who share a commitment to promoting social change.

Application Information

The 2021 Institute for Social Change will take place online May 17 to 20 and May 24 to 28, with synchronous sessions and activities spread across part of each day.

Space is limited to 25 Rackham students and open to any field, discipline, and department. The application deadline is April 28, 2021.

Learning Goals

The Institute for Social Change aims to support your professional and academic development by helping you:

  1. Acquire working knowledge of key concepts and promising practices in public scholarship by exploring the practical, ethical, and theoretical dimensions of publicly engaged work in diverse professional, community, and organizational contexts
  2. Connect with peers in a supportive and collaborative space to imagine possibilities for connecting your scholarly and/or intellectual interests to community needs and the greater public good
  3. Increase confidence in applying scholarly expertise and skills to collaborate with community partners
  4. Become more familiar with the resources and support available for graduate students in public scholarship at the University of Michigan and beyond

Contact the Program in Public Scholarship

1530 Rackham Building
915 E. Washington St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1070


The Program in Public Scholarship is open Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

The office is closed Saturdays and Sundays and on the following holidays: Thanksgiving (Thursday and the following Friday), Christmas through New Year's, Memorial Day, Independence Day (July 4), and Labor Day.