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Detroit: Past, Present, and Future

Detroit was one of the most important American cities in the 20th century—it was known as the “Arsenal of Democracy” during the 1940s and was home to the nation’s automobile industry in the middle of the century. In the summer of 2013, the city filed for bankruptcy. How did Detroit’s fortunes decline so significantly? This one-day course explores some of the key issues—including race, labor, urban politics, and law—that lie at the heart of the urban decline of one of America’s great cities. We will investigate the loss of population and of industry and the rise of inequality. Does Detroit have another transformation in its future? We will explore some of the ways that new investment and entrepreneurship are seeking to re-create Detroit as a key postindustrial city. Readings may include selections from Thomas Sugrue’s The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit, Rebecca J. Kinney’s Beautiful Wasteland: The Rise of Detroit as America’s Postindustrial Frontier, Nathan Bomey’s Detroit Resurrected: To Bankruptcy and Back, and Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: An American Autopsy.

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You'll Walk Away with

  • An understanding of what led to Detroit’s dramatic economic downturn
  • Familiarity with projects and investments under way to revitalize the city

Ideal for

  • All members of the community—working, retired, and in between
  • The curious and creative
NO open sections available for this course at the moment. Please check back next semester.