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Grant Recipients

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship, with support from the University of Michigan Office of Research, is pleased to showcase our current and past Public Scholarship Grant recipients. These grants support research projects created in partnership between Rackham students and a broad spectrum of community partner organizations. Each of the six 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 Thai migration to Israel to neighborhood-based economic opportunities for Latino/a communities in Detroit. 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 the potential these graduate students have to grow the field of public scholarship into the future.

2018

Anna Antoniou

Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology

Living off the Bay, Past and Present: Community Oriented Cultural Heritage and Natural Resource Stewardship in Willapa Bay, Washington

Working in partnership with the Shoalwater Bay Indian Tribe (SBIT), this project will involve local communities in interpreting collections, data, and narratives gathered through archeological research in the area. The result will be new collection displays and educational tool-kits for the SBIT Cultural Museum and an educational curriculum on Native foodways for incorporation into an existing SBIT Diet and Nutrition course. The overarching goal is to work toward using academic archeological data to foster public stewardship of cultural heritage by applying and using archaeological practice in ways that are relevant to those whose heritage is being excavated, documented, and interpreted.

John Doering-White

Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology and Social Work

Entrepreneurship and Revitalization in Detroit

This project aims to amplify the voices of Latinx immigrant communities whose entrepreneurial efforts are often peripheral to narratives of Detroit’s revitalization. In collaboration with ProsperUS, the project team will conduct an ethnographic evaluation of current Spanish language training programs focused on entrepreneurship to understand why so few members of the Latinx community participate. The project will also feature a storytelling process and exhibit intended to help members of this community and others better understand the purpose of the program and the importance of immigrant entrepreneurship to Detroit’s revitalization.

Jallicia Jolly

Ph.D. Candidate, American Culture

HIV+ Women Speak: HIV/AIDS Community Organizing in Jamaica

Through a partnership with EVE for Life, a women’s HIV psychosocial care organization, this project will record oral histories to document the experiences of HIV-positive women’s community organizing in Jamaica. By doing so, the collaboration aims to contribute to our cultural knowledge of HIV and the grassroots efforts and politics of those disproportionately affected by the epidemic. Components include creating a digital archive of stories and a public installation exhibit featuring excerpts from interviews.

Matan Kaminer

Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology

Chiwit Thi Israel/Life in Israel – Podcast for Thai Migrants in Israel

Migrant workers from Thailand who work in Israel are some of the most marginalized and politically disenfranchised people in the country. Much of their structural marginality is related to the linguistic, geographical, and social isolation they face and the consequent difficulty of accessing information on all aspects of life in Israel. Working with a support organization called Workers Hotline, this project will use Kaminer’s field research to create a pilot series of web-based videos based on this community’s needs and interests. The videos will act as an informational resource as well as a means to deepen the knowledge of their allies in the scholarly and non-profit worlds.

Zachary Kopin

Ph.D. Candidate, History

From District 6 to Sophiatown: Teaching Dispossession and Forced Removals in Apartheid South Africa

Constitution Hill in Johannesburg, South Africa, was formerly home to an apartheid prison. Now it serves as a national landmark and International Site of Conscience. Staff are tasked with reclaiming and repurposing the former prison’s spaces, generating economic development, and providing educational programs for school children. In collaboration with the site, this project will address a need at the historic site to revamp educational programming that addresses the history of forced relocation of people of color in Apartheid South Africa. Working with curriculum specialists, the goal of this work is to create a program for 8 to 12 year old visitors that teaches the history of forced relocation and Apartheid using the spaces of the site.

Kimberly Ransom

Ph.D. Candidate, Education

Pickens County Rosenwald School Museum

Rosenwald Schools were segregated schools founded in 1913 as a partnership between Booker T. Washington, Julius Rosenwald, and African American communities in rural Alabama. They had a tremendous impact. Yet their history has primarily been told from the perspectives of former teachers and administrators, not former students. Working with the Pickensville Community Center (housed in a former Rosenwald school building), this project will document and collect oral histories of former students. These oral histories will form the foundation for an archive and museum that will tell the story of Rosenwald Schools from the voices of the children whose lives were transformed by the education they offered to black communities and students during a time when such opportunities were scarce.

2017

Casta Guillaume

Ph.D. Candidate, 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, 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 rich 2500 year-long history of a Zapotec community at Tilcajete to provide new avenues for modern artisans to gain an international audience for their work. While the Oaxaca Valley in Mexico is well known for both art and archeology, many people are excluded or marginalized under the current system of arts and culture tourism that heavily favors a small number of established workshops whose founders have achieved international fame. The project will elevate emerging talent in two ways: by inviting artisans to work directly with archaeological artifacts from Tilcajete and incorporate the designs into their own woodcarvings; and by bringing a small subset of the artisans to Ann Arbor to represent the group and display their work for an international audience.

Anita Ravishankar

Ph.D. Candidate, 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 healthcare 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, Urban Planning and Urban Design

Tax Foreclosure Toolkit

Alexa Eisenberg

Ph.D. Student, 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.

2016

Jessica Lowen

Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology

Now What? Sex Industry Outreach in the Mobile Internet Era.

This project analyzes “faith-based” 501(c)3 anti-trafficking non-profits that raise awareness, mobilize volunteers, and successfully gain access to sex workers and survivors. While these religious groups have been effective, well-established secular agencies focused on harm reduction, like Detroit-based Alternatives for Girls (AFG), are seeing reductions in their outreach contacts. Therefore, this project draws research to help AFG coordinate an inter-agency summit to innovate new outreach strategies. This first-of-its-kind summit will gather outreach groups from across the political spectrum: harm reduction workers, Christian abolitionists, and pro-sex workers’ rights activists, who, despite their ideological differences, share common goals to help women.

Vivian Truong

Ph.D. Candidate, American Culture

Memory and Movement: 30 Years of Asian American Community Organizing

This project is a collaborative public history endeavor with CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities. Founded in 1986 as the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence, CAAAV builds the power of Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City to create institutional change toward racial, economic, and gender justice. Over its thirty-year history, CAAAV has organized South Asian taxi drivers and Filipina domestic workers for better wages and working conditions, Chinatown tenants for affordable housing, Southeast Asian residents of the Bronx for social services, and youth against police violence. This project aims to document the history Asian American community organizing in New York City through processing and digitizing the organization’s archives, conducting an intergenerational oral history project, and curating an exhibit for the CAAAV 30th anniversary event.

Jana Wilbricht

Ph.D. Student, Communication Studies

Words Flying Through the Air: Tribal Radio as a Health Information Resource for Rural American Indian Reservation Residents.

This community-based, participatory research project explores and supports the role of tribal radio in providing access to accurate, culturally relevant health information for residents of rural American Indian reservations in the U.S. American Indians and Alaska Natives are disproportionally affected by digital divides and health inequities, and the local, tribally owned and operated radio stations are a key health information resource for many tribal communities. This project encompasses a national survey of all 67 tribal radio stations currently registered in the U.S., as well as two case studies conducted in close partnership with the tribally owned radio stations KUYI Hopi Radio (located on the Hopi Reservation, Arizona) and KYUK Broadcasting Inc. (located in Bethel, Alaska) Through interviews with station leaders, content analyses of health-related content, and focus groups with listeners, the project aims to understand how tribal radio contributes to improved health awareness and outcomes in this population.

2015

Emma Davis

Master’s Student, Liberal Studies

Riverbank Park Dance Project

This project develops a free, original, community-based performance and dialogue about the Riverbank Park in downtown Flint (performed in September 2015). This park is a threatened yet important part of Michigan’s modernist landscape architectural heritage. Long-term deferred park maintenance and low-flow river conditions have left the park’s canals dry and overgrown. The site-specific performance travels throughout Riverbank Park and will be created from community memories, park history, and new explorations in music, theater, and dance. Following each performance, community members will participate in a dialogue session to ask questions and collectively share memories.

Amanda Healy

Ph.D. Candidate, English and Women’s Studies

Monroe Women’s History Project

The Monroe Women’s History Project is a collaborative public history project that aims to develop archival holdings, public programming, and educational resources on the history of women in Monroe. Inspired by the literary contributions of one of Monroe’s most famous residents, Elizabeth Bacon Custer, the widow of General George Armstrong Custer, whose public relations work and bestselling memoirs both influenced and offer a window into the history of the American West. This project will focus particularly on women’s literary contributions. The Monroe County Historical Museum was founded in 1938 and houses one of the largest collections of artifacts relating to the history of Southeast Michigan. The resources collected and developed for this project by Amanda Healy and her collaborators at the Monroe County Historical Museum will serve as a resource for future generations of Monroe County residents, as well as the general public and interested scholars.

Trish Koman

Ph.D. Candidate, Public Health

MI Environment Mapping Tool: Level 1 Hazardous Emissions and Industrial Materials

This project will help to characterize the extent and impact of cumulative exposures to environmental and social vulnerabilities in the state of Michigan. The project endeavors to create maps that will allow the public to understand the location, relative size, and status of environmental contamination in selected geographic locations across the state. The long-term goal is to engage the public in “citizen science” and use local knowledge to validate locations of facilities and create greater awareness of the environmental vulnerabilities in people’s neighborhoods. This research will help facilitate a larger dialogue about environmental exposures and influence the creation of healthier communities.

Patrick Cooper-McCann

Ph.D. Student, Urban Planning

Partnering for Detroit’s Parks

This project evaluates the impact that community organizations, nonprofits, businesses, and other levels of government have when they supplement or replace municipal expenditures on parks and recreation through a case study of Detroit. Such aid is often seen as marginal and routine, but more cities are treating supplemental provision as integral to the delivery of public services and facilities, which has critical implications for neighborhoods. In partnership with Detroit’s Parks, this project will enable a sharing of research with city officials and community stakeholders and initiate conversations with funders, city officials, and coalition members. Ultimately, the park will develop a consensus vision for the role of “Friends of” groups in the park system and initiate a long-term strategic plan for their coalition.

Marcus White

Ph.D. Student, Urban Planning

Moving Voices: Dance and Social Impact at Community High School

Marcus White’s Moving Voices project aims to use dance as a tool for understanding social impact and as a method for participants to feel empowered to tell their stories through movement. The program is comprised of dance workshops, group discussions, and community building exercises held at Community High School and facilitated by graduate and senior undergraduate dance students from the University of Michigan. A final showing will be held at Community High School as the culminating performance of the participants’ progress over the course of the program. Moving Voices will promote Community High School’s goals to expand Ann Arbor Public Schools dance education programming and to encourage student civic responsibility, as well as Marcus White’s research goals to use dance as a method to explore themes about identity, visibility, and agency.

Contact the Program in Public Scholarship

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

Hours

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.

Rackham Graduate School will be closed for the Thanksgiving holiday at 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 21. We will return at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, November 26. During the holiday, there will be no processing of application materials and no updates to your Wolverine Access account. After we reopen, there will be a delay in processing application materials. Thank you for your patience as we process the high volume of materials.