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Detroit: The Detroit Cycle: 21st-Century Reinvention(s)

The Detroit Cycle: 21st-Century Reinvention(s)

  • NYU Washington Square: Spring 2019
  • Detroit, MI, USA: March 17-24, 2019 (Spring Break)
  • IDSEM-UG 1993 | 4 credits | Instructor: Michael Dinwiddie (NYU Gallatin)
  • LEVEL: Undergraduate, NYU students
  • TOPICS: urban history & planning, music, Africana studies, public policy, & more

Students are admitted on a rolling basis and programs may fill before the deadline. Students are encouraged to apply early.

This course meets during the Spring semester, and the Spring Break travel component is required for participation.

Info Session

Meet Prof. Dinwiddie and learn more about the course!

UPDATE: Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2:00 - 3:00, 411 Lafayette Street, room 354 (conference room)

skyscrapers seen from the street

Once a symbol of productivity, industrialization, and the promise of modernization, Detroit has suffered urban blight, ethnic strife, and the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history. In the 21st century, however, urban planners, artists, entrepreneurs, and young people are creating a new narrative for the city.

In this course, students will learn about Detroit’s history and current state of affairs, searching for ways in which the city has reinvented itself, and critically examining the racial politics, economics, and cultural scene to understand the unique challenges and possibilities of revitalization. This course is especially ideal for students whose studies include social activism through the arts, music, urbanism, ethnic studies, and more. Students will complete a project based on their specific interests.

In Detroit during Spring Break, students will be exposed to a panorama of the city in transition and will see the impact of city policies in regards to class and race. See this article for a recap of the Spring 2019 trip!

Examples of site visits include new urban renewal tracts and a 1950s neighborhood development; Ford’s massive and retooled River Rouge factory; artist loft spaces in converted warehouses; Hamtramck, once the Polish capital of Michigan and now one of the most ethnically diverse places in America; and the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, Arab American Museum, Motown Museum, and Detroit Institute of Arts. Guest speakers may include socially conscious artists as well as entrepreneurs working at the forefront of the food and shelter crisis.

Course texts may include Suzanne Smith’s Dancing in the Street and Herb Boyd’s Black Detroit, the novels of Nettie Jones and Angela Flournoy, and Dominique Morisseau’s plays. Music samplings may include the work of J Dilla, Slum Village, Aretha Franklin, and Motown, jazz, and techno artists. Films may include Searching for Sugarman, The Detroit Model, and Gran Torino.

Gallatin students: This course fulfills 4 credits of the Interdisciplinary Seminar as well as the Humanities requirement.


  • Undergraduate & graduate students of all NYU schools
  • Must have completed at least one full-time college semester before the course begins
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA, good academic & disciplinary standing


  • Tuition, 4 credits: included in NYU flat-rate tuition for full-time standing
  • Program Fee: $650

Program Fee includes housing, round-trip group flight, mandatory excursions, and some meals.

Other Major Costs to Consider:

  • Most meals

Financial Aid

A limited number of full program fee waivers are available for this course. Eligibility: Current Gallatin students and Spring semester incoming Gallatin transfer students (Gallatin admission must be confirmed). Students must have good academic standing, must have a current FAFSA (or for international students, a CSS Profile) on file with the Office of Financial Aid, and must show unmet financial need. Students request the waiver when submitting the travel course application. Requests will be evaluated on a first-come, first-served basis.

See our Financial Aid for Study Away page for details on additional opportunities.

Important Travel Details

Housing: Students are required to reside in housing arranged by NYU Gallatin. Students who have questions or concerns about accessibility or disability-related accommodations should contact NYU’s Moses Center.

Contact Info

NYU Gallatin Office of Global Programs
411 Lafayette St., 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10003
1 (212) 998-7133 phone
1 (212) 995-4265 fax

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