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Signature Initiatives

Signature Initiatives

As the exercise of free speech and the free exchange of ideas is fundamental to participation in democratic societies, the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester offers several Signature Initiatives that provide opportunities to engage with in activities outside of the traditional lecture/panel format. They offer deep dives into the politics and policies debates that will shape the 2020 elections, and celebrate the ways in which the arts can provide us with creative avenues for active citizenship and meaningful engagement. Check back frequently, as new initiatives will be forthcoming throughout the semester.

American Flag flying in the wind
All Semester
Democracy & Debate Collection (Michigan Online)

Democracy and Debate

A democracy thrives when its citizens exercise their right to engage in every level of government. Becoming an informed, equitable, and empowered society depends on all members of that society adopting a learning lifestyle and embracing their constitutional rights. This Collection is a curated portfolio of learning experiences that will help learners understand the complexities of democratic systems, which includes content about current policy issues, community engagement strategies, social justice and racial equity, the underlying political and legal processes, and ways in which citizens can enact change in their own contexts.

See the Michigan Online Democracy and Debate Collection.

Sheryl Oring with typewriter
September 17 2020 - October 18 2020
I Wish to Say

Artist Sheryl Oring returns to the University of Michigan for a month-long performance of “I Wish to Say” from September 15 - October 17, 2020 as part of the university’s Democracy & Debate Theme Semester in collaboration with Stamps Gallery, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. In this project, Oring invites the communities from U-M and Wayne State University to dictate a message to the next president with students typing the notes on vintage typewriters. These interactions will be staged as virtual performances via Zoom every Tuesday from 4:30 pm-6:30 pm and Sunday from 1:00 pm-3:00 pm. The typed postcards, which will be mailed directly to the White House on the participant’s behalf, will inform an exhibit of Oring’s work curated by Stamps Gallery. Additionally, selected messages will be set in Voters’ Broadcast, a new musical work conceived and composed by Lisa Bielawa, which will bring together choirs from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. The 15-minute musical work will be released in three parts over the course of the fall semester as part of the Democracy & Debate Theme Semester programming.

“This is an opportunity for our communities to speak out as we face a critical presidential election. I want to give people in Michigan a chance to record their views at this extraordinary point in history when the state has faced such tremendous challenges stemming from the pandemic while also grappling with the impact of systemic racism.” Sheryl Oring

To share your message for the next president sign up here!

Michigan Publishing book covers and publications
September 1 2020 - 31 December 31 2020
Dialogues in Democracy (University of Michigan Press)

The University of Michigan Press is pleased to announce the launch of “Dialogues in Democracy,” a collection of at least 25 free-to-read books contextualized by multimedia resources including author podcasts and videos. Ideal for students and the engaged voter alike, these resources illustrate the core tensions in American political culture—tensions that erupt every four years during the presidential election and are particularly apparent during these unusual times.

In fall 2020, University of Michigan students, faculty, and staff will join together in a university-wide educational initiative to explore what it means to a member of a democratic society. The free titles featured in “Dialogues in Democracy” allow the public to join this “theme semester” from anywhere in the world, with a curated selection from the Press’s world-renowned political science list enriched by interviews with the leading scholars who work with the Press.

“We’ve picked some of the best titles in the Press’s political science list and worked with the authors to make their books free-to-read all this fall,” notes Dr. Elizabeth Demers, the Press’s editorial director. “I’m proud to act as curator of this trusted, peer-reviewed collection of authoritative books on every topic from voter behavior to gun policy.”

A downloadable reading guide allows students and others to experience the richest, most comprehensive scholarship available today. Included books explore campaign finance and political polarization, how women work harder to stay in office, public attitudes concerning the presidency, guns and public health, the effect of the welfare state on low-income families, the remarkable rise of transgender rights, the politics of American Jews and millennials, and the central role that race will play in deciding who will next occupy the White House.

In addition to the recorded podcasts featured in the collection, a series of new online conversations with authors is being recorded. These will continue to enrich the “Dialogues in Democracy” feature throughout the fall.

The books are free to read through December 31, 2020, as part of the University of Michigan Press Ebook Collection on Fulcrum. The Press is grateful to Dr. Angela Dillard and the University of Michigan Presidential Debate Academic Advisory Committee for their support.

Learn more on Michigan Publishing’s website.