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Detroit Studies

Detroit Studies

Thomas A. Klug, Ph.D.
Liberal Arts Building, Room LA 228
Direct: (313) 927-1291
E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Certificate in Detroit Studies

Mary Byrnes, Ph.D.
Ellis L. Ivory, M.A.
Thomas A. Klug, Ph.D.
Tal Levy, Ph.D.
Diane McMillan, M.S.W.
Frank D. Rashid, Ph.D.

Mission and Programs

The Marygrove College Institute for Detroit Studies promotes interdisciplinary study of the City of Detroit through

  • academic credit and continuing education courses;
  • on-line resources;
  • lectures, readings, exhibits, and performances;
  • research activities and visiting scholar programs;
  • workshops, programs, and presentations held on campus and throughout the metropolitan area.

The Institute builds on Marygrove College’s mission to serve the people of metropolitan Detroit, on its location in the city, and on its strong relationship with different Detroit constituencies. The Institute seeks to broaden recognition of Detroit’s contributions to American culture, interrogate standard definitions and popular versions of the city, and provide opportunity for cross-disciplinary analysis of issues important to the metropolitan area.


Defining Detroit
A series of lectures, readings, exhibits, and performances focusing on the City of Detroit. The series has brought to the campus well-known Detroit historians, writers, and artists, among them Joyce Carol Oates, Thomas J. Sugrue, Kevin Boyle, Heather Thompson, Philip Levine, Cholly Atkins, Naomi Long Madgett, and Lawrence Joseph.

Web Resources:

Certificate in Detroit Studies

The undergraduate certificate in Detroit Studies consists of at least sixteen hours of interdisciplinary coursework devoted to analysis of metropolitan Detroit.

Courses may include:

MUS 245                     Music of Detroit, 3 credits
This course explores the history of music within the city of Detroit. From hip-hop to classical, Detroit has made a lasting statement in nearly every genre of American music. From jazz/blues clubs of Paradise Valley to the explosion of the Motown scene, the development of techno and hardcore punk of the chaotic birth of the modern soul, we will examine Detroit's influence and contribution to a variety of genres from the 1920's to present day. No formal training in music is expected or required.
HIS 310                       Community and Organizational Change
The history of Detroit and its metropolitan area from 1701 to the present.

IS 320A                       Metro Detroit through Three Centuries, 3 credits
In this course, we apply ideas from history, economics, and literature to deepen our understanding of contemporary Detroit. We pay particular attention to several key factors—including race and class inequality, corporate deindustrialization, and local and regional development—influencing the city's present condition. Seminar sessions consist of discussions involving all members of the class and presentations by individual faculty members and students. In our discussions, we will respond to assigned readings based upon our own experiences of life in and around Detroit. Presentations by students and professors will focus on specific subjects of our research. The course will include documentary films and a tour of sites that are important to our discussions.

ENG 333                     Detroit in Literature, 3 credits
This course examines Detroit as a city in literature. Taking advantage of our familiarity with the actual setting(s) employed by poets, novelists, and authors of short fiction, we explore the issues involved in translating an environment into literature. In the process, we will attempt to “place” this city in modern and contemporary culture, probing common assumptions about it and about cities in general, examining power, wealth, and inequality; race and class; consumption and ecology; political order and social chaos.

POL/SW/SOC 385    Community and Organizational Change, 3 credits

Analysis of communities and organizations as social systems, including examination of critical problems. Also examines intervention and change strategies that appear to be effective and how they can be applied. A service-learning component may be included.

HIS/POL 496               Senior Research Seminar, Topics in Detroit History and Politics
Senior research seminar for social science majors with history and political science concentrations. In depth research and writing on a history or political science topic related to Detroit.

Other courses in development


Response of Marygrove's Institute for Detroit Studies to Media Coverage of Detroit's Bankruptcy

There has been a disturbing lack of context in recent coverage of developments in Detroit. Discussion of the installation of the Emergency Manager and the consequent filing for Chapter 9 bankruptcy too often has been limited to Detroit’s financial management. Comparatively little attention has been paid to the larger social and economic forces responsible for the city’s present crisis. This incomplete narrative leaves the mistaken impression that Detroiters—especially African American Detroiters—are responsible for the city’s financial collapse. 


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