The Detroit School series seeks to stimulate an interdisciplinary conversation on how research on Detroit—a city often seen as an extreme outlier of decline—can produce knowledge that is original and relevant to urban studies globally. We also hope to foster new collaborations among the hundreds of researchers—at the University of Michigan and around the world—who are studying Detroit and cities like it.

The series grew out of an acknowledgment that many classical theories of urban space fail to account for the decline and depopulation that typifies many cities in the 21st century. In contrast to the growth imperatives assumed by the LA and Chicago Schools of Urban Studies, the Detroit School contemplates what it might mean for there to exist a Detroit School of Urban Studies focused on non-growth cities, and how such a school of thought would re-orient or adapt classic urban theory. As such, our series engages researchers on ways research in Detroit and on declining cities exposes unique and meaningful phenomena, magnifies the effects of decline invisible in other contexts, and creates opportunities to test hypotheses and evaluate policies difficult to assess in more densely populated areas.

Click here to see the 2019-2020 schedule for public lectures.

The series began in fall 2012 with the leadership of a faculty member and three Ph.D. students in the Urban and Regional Planning Program, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, who received funding for a Distinguished Faculty Seminar from the Office of the Vice President for Research and the Rackham School of Graduate Studies. The Detroit School continues today as a student-led initiative funded primarily by the Rackham Graduate School at the University of Michigan.