Our Mission

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship supports collaborative scholarly and creative endeavors that engage communities and co-create public goods while enhancing students’ professional development.

Faculty and students across the University of Michigan are doing publicly engaged, innovative work in the arts, humanities and design, including research, creative projects, and teaching. The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship supports graduate students in strengthening and expanding their public scholarship.

Public scholarship in the humanities, arts, and design, according to Nancy Cantor and Stephen Lavine, “comprises research, scholarship, or creative activity that connects directly to the work of specific public groups in specific contexts; arises from a faculty member’s field of knowledge; involves a cohesive series of activities contributing to the public welfare and results in ‘public good’ products; is jointly planned and carried out by coequal partners; and integrates discovery, learning, and public engagement.” (Nancy Cantor and Stephen D. Lavine, “Point of View: Taking Public Scholarship Seriously,” Chronicle of Higher Education, June 9, 2006)

U-M’s many public scholars in the arts, humanities and design enrich civic life by creating public cultural goods that preserve our past, tell stories of who we are, imagine our future, and provide public space for connecting with each other. The public scholar’s collaborative work is also a rich source of research material that can advance theory in the particular field, provide the basis for creative work, and raise problems or dissonances that lead to new research questions.

Fostering Public Scholarship

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship offers a set of programs designed to:

  • Provide professional development opportunities for graduate students interested in careers as public scholars within and/or outside the academy.
  • Support mutually-beneficial creative and scholarly collaborations between U-M graduate students and community organizations that further the public roles of the arts, design, and humanities.
  • Develop sustainable partnerships that strengthen local communities with arts, cultural, and civic organizations in southeastern Michigan and across the Great Lakes region.
  • Work with U-M graduate students and faculty to integrate concepts and methodologies from public scholarship into graduate curricula in the arts, design, and humanities.


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