Call for Articles/Proposals: Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning

Posted on January 08, 2016

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The Fall 2016 issue of the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning (MJCSL) will feature a special section on Community-Engaged Practice and Research in Detroit, guest co-edited by:

Nick Tobier, Associate Professor | UM Stamps School of Art & Design | Senior Counsel on Civic Engagement to the Provost

Katie Richards-Schuster, Assistant Professor | UM School of School Work | Director of Undergraduate Minor Programs

Paul Draus, Associate Professor | UM-D College of Arts, Sciences & Letters | Director, Master in Public Administration

Juliette Roddy, Associate Professor | UM-D College of Education, Health and Human Services


The way we think about and engage in partnerships with the city of Detroit is changing. In the past decade, narratives of Detroit have ranged from the fate of the shrinking city through the drama of bankruptcy to the rising crisis of gentrification. This is reminiscent of the cultural climate of the 1970s, particularly in the USA, when academics experienced a series of radical shifts in approaches to research, practice and relationships that reflected Detroit’s evolving presence within the region, the state, and the country. Forty years later, in the midst of very different cultural, economic and technological circumstances, we ask how approaches to community-engaged practice and research have themselves adapted?  What are the critical questions that need to be asked in order to promote authentic and meaningful engagement with the city today?

The ‘academic turn’ has seen the development of a wide variety of frameworks for university-run community-based research efforts in reaction (in part) to the increasing neo-liberalization of Detroit on the one hand and renewed interest in radical collaborative models on the other.   Social and economic developments driven by market logic and declines in municipal funding for making, thinking, learning and doing, occur side-by-side with ambitious grassroots projects emphasizing the social values of co-creation and social justice.

Rhetorical shifts away from ‘community growth’ towards a proliferation of ‘creative innovation’ are occurring in academia and in urban policy that are impacting Detroit, as creative and experimental modes of development have become absorbed into normative, market-driven systems with an increasing emphasis on the value of the brand of  “Detroit.”  We have witnessed these processes as instrumental in the growth of the city, but often at the expense of social values, inclusivity and public engagement.

The editors invite proposals for Detroit-focused articles, papers, and artist’s pages from academics, artists, educators and researchers that (a) comment on, propose and imagine alternative programs and approaches to research and practice (both inside and outside the academy) and their relation to historical and contemporary models, methods, processes and ethos, (b) offer examples and analysis of what is happening now, or (c) provide critical perspectives on work with a focus on preparing student, faculty, and community partners for authentic engagement. We also invite proposals that focus on institutional and non-institutional frameworks for exploratory modes of public engagement and inclusion and that consider Detroit as a point of comparison for campus-community engagement practice and research in other cities.

We are interested in contributions that build on the foundations of social justice, creativity, imagination, and experiment that are not simply predicated on new technological (digital) possibilities and potentials (for all of their value) but are also rooted in embodied, experiential modes of making, thinking, learning and doing, oriented towards current and future cultural and social conditions, and concerned with ways that these can be integrated into developing modes of education and research.

The first step in the submission process is to submit a one-page abstract/précis to Nick Tobier ( by February 11, 2016 that adequately conveys the focus/plan for the article and includes the author(s)’ contact information, including email address.  Invitations to submit an article will be made by email in early March, with invited articles due May 15, 2016.  For general submission guidelines, please consult MJCSL.

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