Engaged Faculty Spotlight

Jennifer Coon

Jennifer Coon, lecturer and Director of the Mitchell Business Communication Lab, has done an exemplary job at incorporating community-engagement into her PBL course BA 330: Managerial Communication. Over several years, Jennifer has built a relationship with Humble Design, a nonprofit that designs and furnishes homes for people in need. In Fall 2022 and 2023, BA 330 students learned directly from Humble Design Detroit's Executive Director, Chris Tull, about what nonprofits need and how they operate. Students developed infographics, HR documents, grant language, and persuasive communications which are now being used in real life by Humble Design. Thank you, Jennifer, for creatively weaving community-engagement into your course and for sharing your passion with your students!

Dara Hill, LaShorage Shaffer, and DeLean Tolbert Smith

Congratulations to Professor of Education Operations Dara Hill, Associate Professor of Education LaShorage Shaffer, and Assistant Professor of Industrial and Manufacturing Systems Engineering DeLean Tolbert Smith for securing funds from this year's Engage Detroit grant program! In partnership with the Detroit Parent Network and the Best Classroom Project, Drs. Hill, Shaffer, and Tolbert Smith seek to assist families in Detroit in making informed school choices for their children and to provide support to local youth with college admissions. The aim of the series is to raise awareness about the quality of education in Detroit, increase enrollment in local schools, and establish the University of Michigan's role in supporting school choice decisions and encouraging underrepresented Detroit youth to apply to the university's programs.

Rick Morrone and Natalie Sampson, October 2023

Theatre of movie goers looking at the big screen.

"Pollution Has No Boundaries," a short film directed by Instructional Learning Assistant Rick Morrone, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Public Health Natalie Sampson and community activist Theresa Landrum, has been selected for the Better Cities Film Festival Detroit, which runs Oct. 6-8. The film takes viewers on a tour of the environmental injustice in Southwest Detroit, the South End of Dearborn and neighboring communities, and grew out of regular tours that Landrum has led for Dr. Sampson's environmental health students. Congratulations on your film debut!

Finn Bell, Summer 2023

professor bell and student briana hurt at we the people opportunity farmThis past summer, Assistant Professor Finn Bell collaborated with UM-Dearborn senior Briana Hurt on his ongoing research through SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience). Dr. Bell's research is about food growers, accessibility, and justice in the Ypsilanti community in collaboration with We the People Opportunity Farm. Dr. Bell is also teaching HHS 406, a program evaluation course with community partners like ACCESS, LAHC, and Brilliant Detroit. Thank you for championing mutually beneficial community engagement in your research and coursework, Dr. Bell!

Jacob Napieralski, July 2023

On July 1st, Dr. Jacob Napieralski began his new appointment as the Director of the Environmental Interpretive Center, UM-Dearborn's beloved gateway to the 120-acrethe sign outside of the environmental interpretive center Environmental Study Area. A Professor of Geology, Dr. Napieralski has done important research related to flood equity and green spaces, and has worked with community partners like Detroit Ain't Violent It's Safe and C.A.N. Art Handworks. We are grateful to Dr. Napieralski's contributions to engaged scholarship!

Tim Kiska, June 2023

tim kiska at the michigan regional emmy awards holding his emmyOn June 17th, Professor of Communications Tim Kiska won a Michigan Regional Emmy award in the Best Historical Documentary category for "Going 4 It: The inside story of the rise of WDIV". Tim worked on the project as a political and historical consultant, informing the documentary's rich re-telling of Channel 4 presence in Detroit throughout the years. Congratulations, Tim, and thank you for all the work you've done with and for the city of Detroit!

Tim also hosts The Detroit History Podcast, check it out!

Paul Draus, June 2023

the lobby of the um detroit centerOn June 19th, Professor Paul Draus began his new appointment as the director of the University of Michigan Detroit Center. No stranger to community-engaged work, Dr. Draus has extensively support the efforts of the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, the Healthy Dearborn Coalition, and most recently concluded a Fullbright Scholarship in Lithuania. Congratulations! We are so excited to have a deeper relationship with our Detroit colleagues and partners.

Seed Grant Award Winners, May 2023

Since its inception, the Office of Community Engaged Learning has awarded more than $125,000 in seed funding for community-based research and projects. Congratulations to this year’s round of winners!

Mathematics Associate Professor Michael Dabkowski, $5000 to support Math Corps, a four-week Summer camp for middle and high school students in partnership with Math Corps International

Sociology Professor Paul Draus and History Associate Professor Anna Muller, $5000 to support “Taking it to the Street: Arts, Agency, and Community,” a program exploring art expressions in the context of the justice system in partnership with Inside-Out Literary Arts

Public Health Associate Professor Natalie Sampson and Sociology Associate Professor Carmel Price, $5500 to support “EHRA on the Water,” an effort to expand EHRA’s research to include water quality issues in Metro Detroit, in partnership with Friends of the Rouge
Spanish Associate Professor Francia Martinez Valencia, $3000 to support “Hamtramck, MI, from an English City to a Multicultural Landscape,” a research initiative exploring the physical and virtual linguistic landscapes of Hamtramck, in partnership with the Hamtramck Historical Museum

Lara Rusch and Francine Banner, December 2022

Published on December 2nd, 2022, "Homeless Group Representation in Detroit's Problem-Solving Court" explores a new approach to the traditional court

participants at a court hearing that took place at a local soup kitchen
A Street Outreach Court session, held in a Capuchin Soup Kitchen.

system. Created in part by the Detroit Action Commonwealth, the Street Outreach Court Detroit (SOCD) holds hearings at a local Capuchin Soup Kitchen. With support and engaged involvement from the beginning, clients are equipped with action plans collaboratively curated with partner agencies and feel more comfortable interacting with the court in a familiar space. But the two CASL professors saw areas of improvement as well. Through observation and interview, Professor Banner and Associate Professor Rusch assert that "the permanent representation of advocates chosen by indigent-led community organizations may better equip problem-solving courts to address the root causes of poverty...". This research takes big steps in improving the quality of court room interactions for the homeless, and otherwise historically underrepresented groups in the city of Detroit. Great work, Lara and Francine!

Office of Community-Engaged Learning

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4901 Evergreen Rd
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