Learning from Detroit

Majors open to

Open to all majors

Host Department

Humanities & Sciences + Designmatters

Faculty Lead

CandiceLeigh Baumgardner
Arden Stern


15 units of ArtCenter credit
(12 H&S, 3 Studio)

How To Apply

Applications for this program are closed.


  • Must have completed at least two terms of undergraduate study or two terms of graduate study prior to term away
  • Must have at least one term remaining upon return to Art Center
  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0
  • Must not be on academic or disciplinary probation at the time of application
  • Must demonstrate a desire for critical engagement and reflection on the social role of making

* If you do not meet the minimum eligibility requirements you still may be able to apply. Please contact studyaway@artcenter.edu.


In addition to ArtCenter tuition, you will be responsible for a program fee between ~$750-$900.

This fee covers: accommodations (shared dormitory rooms on Wayne State University’s campus, which include private bathrooms), linens, a campus access card, and entrance to the Allied Media Conference.

Additional costs that you will be responsible for that are NOT included in the program fee are: an on-campus meal plan, residence hall parking permit ($3.75/day; if you have a car) or ground transportation (~$40/day; Lyft), round-trip airfare LAX-Detroit (~$300) and daily personal expenses such as food, souvenirs, etc. (~$50/day).


Term: Summer 2018
Dates Away: May 19 – June 17, 2018*

*Students will spend week 1 of the program at ArtCenter, weeks 2-5 in Detroit, and week 6 back at ArtCenter.

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Detroit SU18
Detroit 6

About Learning From Detroit
The city of Detroit, once the epicenter of the US auto industry, has come in the 21st century to represent American innovation, decline, and revitalization alike. As such, the city stands at the forefront of ongoing debates related to issues of land use and “ungrowth”, infrastructure, urban redevelopment and displacement, community activism, labor and manufacturing, racial justice, neoliberalism and globalization, and the transformation of the built environment. This research-driven transdisciplinary studio course (TDS), which will include an opportunity to live and study in Detroit for a month, will challenge students to identify new frameworks and vocabularies for thinking about this city and its role in the US and the world. What can artists and designers learn from–and contribute to–the communities of Detroit?

This course will introduce students to methods for incorporating community immersion and social engagement into the creative process. Students will learn about competing visions for the future of Detroit as imagined by residents, organizers, policy makers, artists, activists, scholars, and other stakeholders. Partnerships with local institutions and organizations will facilitate access to key sites and launch student research projects responding to various issues and concerns related to Detroit’s past, present, and future. Ideal applicants will demonstrate an interest in participating in partner organizations’ ongoing projects, helping these organizations achieve their own stated goals; this may include activities like gardening, building, and organizing as well as those more typically associated with art and design. Applicants will have the opportunity to partner with organizations in the context of three thematic territories: ecology/conservation, community identity, and access.

In this course we will examine how participating in and supporting community work can promote design’s critical engagement with pressing contemporary issues. Students will learn how research methods such as interviewing, observing, and participating can be used at various stages of the creative process to reveal diverse social perspectives and cultural phenomena. Frameworks from design research, ethnography, public policy, visual culture, history, community organizing, and related modalities will provide critical lenses for creative practice. The ethical dimensions of methods and outcomes will be addressed throughout the term, and examined through concrete contexts. The TDS will culminate in a publication and public presentation featuring student work. This course will be hosted by Humanities & Sciences, and is open to both undergraduate and graduate students. Designmatters credit may be earned through participation in this course.

Information Sessions
• Tuesday, January 23 at 1 pm (Week 2) in Conference Room B, Hillside
• Thursday, February 1 at 1 pm (Week 3) in Room 208 at 870 Bldg.

Selection & Notification Timeline
Applications Due: Wednesday, February 21 at 1 pm (Week 6)
Decisions Announced: Wednesday, February 28 (Week 7)
Program Commitment & $200 Deposit Due: Wednesday, March 7 at 1 pm (Week 8)

Scholarship Information