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.
Master’s student, Creative Writing
Ph.D. Candidate, English and Education
Bryan Byrdlong, along with Carlina Duan, will extend the impact of “Staying Power,” a cultural exchange program between youth from Ypsilanti, Michigan and Richmond, California, which aims to support youth leaders in preserving communities at risk of gentrification through arts activism. They will collaborate with Ann Arbor’s Neutral Zone by helping students explore community histories and advocate for themselves and for other marginalized communities through archival research and documentary poetry writing, and will introduce pedagogical methods for youth writers and practice methods of field documentation. Teens will magnify the knowledge of community elders, local historians, and community organizers by showcasing their findings through arts performance, photojournalism, and a published literary anthology.
Master’s student, Public Policy and Public Health
Ph.D. candidate, Sociology and Public Policy
“Mapping Marion’s Assets”
This partnership between the U-M graduate student team (Rural Resilience Project), the Marion County Coordinating Council, and Poverty Solutions addresses the immediate community need of connecting vulnerable residents with free and affordable services across the domains of health, employment, emergency assistance, and education by creating a community asset map. By distributing the asset map in different locations across the county, the Mapping Marion’s Assets team will explore the role of space in shaping people’s access to resources, by assessing which information channels and local sites are the most successful for dispersing important information about available services. This research will inform how local service providers advertise their services in the future, and help bridge a communication gap between local providers and clients.
Ph.D. candidate, Sociology
“Legal Barriers to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Queer Asylum Seeking in South Africa”
The South African Refugee Act uniquely affords protection to persons fleeing persecution based on sexual orientation. Despite these progressive legal provisions however, LGBQ asylum seekers have difficulty achieving refugee status in South Africa. Through this project, Michigan sociology Ph.D. candidate Miriam Gleckman-Krut aims to help address this social challenge by co-authoring a report with the Cape Town Legal Resources Centre on flaws in asylum adjudication for LGBQ asylum seekers in South Africa. To date, they have collected and analyzed refugee status denial letters on behalf of eighty-four individuals. This is the largest single collection of legal documents ever collected on this population.
Ph.D. candidate, English Language and Literature
“Rise Up: 50 Years of Environmental Action”
To commemorate the Ecology Center’s 50 year anniversary, this project’s objective is to promote the next fifty years of environmental action in Southeast Michigan by raising awareness of past struggle and success and by encouraging personal reflection. Elizabeth Harlow will partner with the Ecology Center to deliver a living and relevant history that will help viewers understand how to meet the steep challenges of our current historical moment, including the existential threat of global climate change. They especially aim to foster better informed and more engaged citizenship around issues of environmental justice that have long been incompletely realized in environmental activism.
Loyda Marie Morales-Rodriguez
Ph.D. pre-candidate, Pharmacology
M.D./Ph.D. candidate, Molecular and Integrative Physiology
“Overcoming Barriers to Science Education Access in Low-Resource, High-Need Elementary Classrooms in Estabrook Elementary”
Through Science Education and Engagement for Kids (SEEK), a graduate student-run organization at the U-M, this collaboration aims to provide mutually beneficial community engagement and scholarship for Estabrook Elementary, an underserved elementary school in Southeast Michigan, and members of SEEK. In 2017, less than 5 percent of Estabrook students earned passing scores in the science component of the Michigan Student Test of Educational Progress. To help bridge this achievement gap in fifth-grade classrooms at Estabrook, this project will establish a year-long science curriculum aligned with the Michigan K-12 Science Standards. Once implemented and further honed, this curriculum may be shared more broadly in the Ypsilanti Community School District.
Ph.D. candidate, Sociology and Public Policy
“Shifting Perceptions of Place: Developing Creative and Meaningful Measures of Placemaking and Its Impacts”
Placemaking is a community development strategy used to stave off blight and reenergize neighborhoods, but funders and advocates have noted the difficulty in measuring and evaluating placemaking’s impacts. By combining Michigan Municipal League’s placemaking expertise with Lydia Wileden’s methodological focus on measuring and modeling people’s changing perceptions of the spaces around them, this project aims to address this evaluation gap. Through the development of creative and meaningful survey measures, this project will create evaluation instruments and data that capture placemaking’s influence on how residents and stakeholders think about, talk about, and make decisions regarding their communities. This work will culminate in the creation of an evaluation best practices toolkit for practitioners that offers practical advice and templates for measuring how placemaking affects perceptions, use of local amenities, and overall quality of life in communities across Michigan.
Naomi Mae Wilson
Ph.D. candidate, Educational Studies
“Motorcity to the City of Angels: Building Power and Strategy Through Fostering a Cross-City Relationship to Enhance Multiracial-Multiethnic Youth Organizing”
Through a partnership with a grassroots organization in Detroit, 482Forward, this project will produce a youth-designed workshop, and photovoice exhibition. The public scholarship is represented through a learning lab in California that will assist youth coalition-building across states to enhance their justice work. In particular, this project is connecting prominent youth organizers in Detroit and Los Angeles, CA to learn best tactics from one another in educational organizing. This partnership is reflective of a larger dedication to public scholarship within community-based research and to an equitable education for all students no matter the zip code and to promote national collaborations to advance justice.
Ph.D. Candidate, Anthropology and Social Work
“An Organizational and Community History of LGBTQ Organizing in Detroit”
The Ruth Ellis Center in Highland Park, Michigan is a nonprofit organization providing social and medical services to LGBTQ youth in metropolitan Detroit. The center commemorates Ruth Ellis, a black lesbian community leader who provided informal care to young people in the Detroit area. This project will involve a collaboration with the center’s Youth Advisory Board to produce a set of interactive multimedia products documenting the history of the center and the communities it serves.
Ph.D. Candidate, Epidemiology
“Enhancing Data Collection and Utilization Within a Local Child Care Illness Surveillance Network”
The Michigan Child Care Related Infectious Disease Surveillance Program (MCRISP) is an online illness reporting system for child care centers in Michigan. The online illness reporting tool is currently designed for academic researchers and public health officials. With partnerships including the Child Care Network and the Washtenaw County Health Department, this project aims to tailor and relay MCRISP findings back to the community to best mitigate facility illness burden in Washtenaw County.
Ph.D. Student, Educational Studies
“Creando Juntos: Community Language and Literacy Support (CLLS)”
By the 2019-20 school year, all Michigan students will be affected by the “Read by Grade Three” law, which recommends retention for students who do not pass the standardized state-level English Language Arts test in third grade. English Learners (ELs) may qualify for a “good cause” exemption but parents have voiced concerns about how to best prepare and advocate for their children. In collaboration with Brilliant Detroit Southwest, which has served hundreds of families through literacy programming, this project aims to inform and support families of ELs in grades K-3 through a community-responsive and intergenerational approach to navigating early literacy in schools. With eight years of teaching experience, Ms. Hanna will work with community members to develop workshop materials and a family literacy curriculum that will be available for implementation at other community centers.
Laura-Ann Jacobs and Ashley Jackson
Ph.D. Students, Educational Studies
“Teen STEAM Cafe: Public Libraries as Empowering Spaces and Powerful Pathways for STEAM Identities”
This project is a partnership with the Ypsilanti Public Library Downtown Branch to create the Teen STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) Cafe discussion series program. Teen STEAM Cafe will be a monthly meeting where the library hosts community speakers who work in STEM field careers. Guest speakers will discuss their work, how they came to be in that career, and host activities related to their career with teens. In collaboration with the library’s Teen Advisory Group, Teen STEAM will offer access to opportunities to learn about and create media projects through experimentation and professional guidance. This project aims to support innovative teen-driven and teen-led program design at the Ypsilanti District Library.
Ph.D. Candidate, Information
“Voices of Epilepsy”
This collaboration aims to center the voices and perspectives of people with epilepsy through a podcast series titled Voices of Epilepsy. In partnership with the Epilepsy Foundation of Michigan (EFM), the podcasts will serve as educational resources and sources of inspiration for people with epilepsy. Additionally, the podcasts will increase awareness and expand the conversation on epilepsy by highlighting the experiential knowledge of people with epilepsy. Voices of Epilepsy will combine EFM’s expertise in patient education and outreach with Marathe’s research on social issues faced by marginalized communities.
Kayla Fike and Ozge Savas
Ph.D. Students, Psychology and Women’s Studies
“Language Advocacy Program” (LAP)
The Language Advocacy Program (LAP) is a mentorship program that will support Arabic-speaking first-generation immigrant and refugee youth in Wayne County. Students from immigrant and refugee backgrounds face several barriers, from communicating with English-speakers to completion of secondary and post-secondary education. The program’s main objectives include supporting positive educational and occupational outcomes. It focuses on linguistic complexity and the skills of bilingual youth. In partnership with the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Service (ACCESS), LAP aims to increase the sense of belonging for students and develop their confidence to navigate unfamiliar institutional environments.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Master’s Student, Urban Planning and Urban Design
Tax Foreclosure Toolkit
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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