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Michigan-Mellon Project: Fellows

Michigan-Mellon Design Fellows in Egalitarianism and the Metropolis

The Michigan/Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis is a 4-year academic and research initia- tive focused on architecture, urbanism and humanities research in Detroit, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, is made possible by a $1.3 million grant from the A. W. Mellon Foundation. The project allows theory and practice to inform and be informed by questions of social justice, social movements and transformative creative arts movements - both past and present. The emphasis on cities and their specificity will focus humanists on linking theories of human interaction and collective life with the physical space of a city and its histories. The increased expertise in urbanism allows for humanists to better understand the market forces and economic constraints that inform design decisions that directly affect human life. Designers benefit from direct engagement with humanities scholarship that can more amply critique the structural inequalities driven by, for example, racial or socio-economic disparities (arising out of ideological biases) that have been impediments to urban development. The project, launched in Fall 2014, includes lecture and seminar courses, research fellowships, symposia, colloquia and films, exhibitions and publications. 

Design Fellows are expected to pursue independent research projects at the intersection of architecture, urbanism and the humanities, with particular emphasis on the role of egalitarianism in shaping metropolitan regions. Fellows’ research work should also address aspects of one or more of the focus cities (Detroit, Mexico City DF and/or Rio de Janeiro). Through faculty mentorship, colloquia and symposia, Fellows will join an intellectual community in which work in progress is shared and interrogated by a community of designers and scholars. Design Fellows will teach two design studios per term in the Michigan Architecture Prep Program - a semester-long architecture enrichment program for high school juniors in the metro Detroit area. Each Fellow will receive work space at the Michigan Research Studio, a 3,700sf space in midtown Detroit. Fellows are encouraged to seek support from external agencies if it appears that their scholarly and creative work will be enhanced by such grants. At the end of each fellowship year, Fellows are required to submit a written report on their activities and are encouraged to present their work to a public audience. 

2017-2018 Design Fellows (PDF)

Michigan-Mellon Humanities Fellows in Egalitarianism and the Metropolis

The Michigan/Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis is a 4-year academic and research initia- tive focused on architecture, urbanism and humanities research in Detroit, Mexico City and Rio de Janeiro, is made possible by a $1.3 million grant from the A. W. Mellon Foundation. The project allows theory and practice to inform and be informed by questions of social justice, social movements and transformative creative arts movements - both past and present. The emphasis on cities and their specificity will focus humanists on linking theories of human interaction and collective life with the physical space of a city and its histories. The increased expertise in urbanism allows for humanists to better understand the market forces and economic constraints that inform design decisions that directly affect human life. Designers benefit from direct engagement with humanities scholarship that can more amply critique the structural inequalities driven by, for example, racial or socio-economic disparities (arising out of ideological biases) that have been impediments to urban development. The project, launched in Fall 2014, includes lecture and seminar courses, research fellowships, symposia, colloquia and films, exhibitions and publications. 

Humanities Fellows are expected to pursue independent research projects at the intersection of architecture, urbanism and the humanities, with particular emphasis on the role of egalitarianism in shaping metropolitan regions. Fellows’ research work should also address aspects of one or more of the cities-metros (Detroit, Mexico City DF and/or Rio de Janeiro). Through faculty mentorship, colloquia and symposia, Fellows will join an intellectual community in which work in progress is shared and interrogated by a community of scholars and designers. Humanities Fellows will teach three seminar/discussion sections per year - these sections may be affiliated with a lecture course on the Program themes and/or large seminar courses focussed on aspects of post-industrial and megacity issues. Each Fellow will receive work space at the University of Michigan. Fellows are encouraged to seek support from external agencies if it appears that their scholarly and creative work will be enhanced by such grants. At the end of each fellowship year, Fellows are required to submit a written report on their activities and are encouraged to present their work to a public audience. 

2017-2018 Humanities Fellows (PDF)

2017 - 2018 MICHIGAN-MELLON FELLOWS IN EGALITARIANISM AND THE METROPOLIS

Design Fellows:

Julie Pedtke

Julie Pedtke has recently completed a Master of Architecture from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. During her undergraduate thesis at Hampshire College, she partnered with public housing tenants to explore ongoing activist campaigns in Holyoke, Massachusetts alongside histories of public participation in urban redevelopment. She is most interested in interdisciplinary work addressing social justice issues in post-industrial cities, specifically through cooperative ownership models, participatory planning and design methods, and grassroots organizing. She plans to continue a study of community land trusts, foreclosure, and alternative finance with the Michigan-Mellon Project on Egalitarianism and the Metropolis in the coming year.

Suzanne Lettieri

Suzanne Lettieri is the 2016-2018 Michigan-Mellon Design Fellow. Prior to joining the University of Michigan, she served as a Visiting Critic at Cornell University. She is the co-principle of JE-LE, an independent design and research practice. She previously worked at the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, CODA, and Biber Architects. As project leader with CODA, she guided the design and construction of Party Wall, the winning entry at for the 2013 Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1. Her work has been exhibited in New York, Boston, and Venice and published in Project and The Cornell Journal of Architecture. Lettieri’s fellowship research focuses on the border conditions of Detroit, materialized through a series of contentious objects. Her study of the intentional misuse of these objects offers a possible framework to consider discrete, site specific, and architectural-scale propositions that interface with urbanism and infrastructure.

Humanities Fellows:

Julia Yezbick

Julia Yezbick is a Detroit-based filmmaker, artist, and anthropologist who received her PhD in Media Anthropology and Critical Media Practice from Harvard University in 2016. Her work has been shown at international festivals and venues including the Berlinale--Forum Expanded, MOMA PS1’s print shop, the New York Library for Performing Arts, the Ann Arbor Film Festival, Mostra Internacional do Filme Etnográfico (Rio de Janeiro), the Montreal Ethnographic Film Festival, and at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit. She is the founding editor of Sensate, an online journal for experiments in critical media practice, and co-directs Mothlight Microcinema in Detroit. She recently completed a lectureship in the anthropology department at Harvard University where she taught courses on ethnographic film, video production, deindustrializing US cities, and the intersections of art and anthropology.

Austin McCoy

Austin McCoy is a historian whose research explores the relationship between transformations in political economy and the evolution of city- and state-based social movements. His broader research and teaching interests include African American History, social movements, and policing. Austin’s work has appeared in journals such as Social History and New Labor Forum and blogs like Nursing Clio and Black Perspectives. He is currently working on a book that analyzes activists’ social movement responses to urban uprisings, police brutality, war and empire, and plant closure in the Midwest during the 1970s and 1980s.

View past Michigan-Mellon fellows