Detroit Rising! A Practical Exercise in the Scholarship of Engagement

Detroit Rising! A Practical Exercise in the Scholarship of Engagement

How can a group of business and community leaders participate in restoring a community?

 

The answer to this question may be found with the Detroit Rising (working title) project that is currently taking place in Southeast Michigan. With this blog, I invite you to join me on this journey into practical organizational development which began six months ago and is now moving into the next chapter.  I begin with the background using an exert from an article submitted for the Phoenix Scholar:

Detroit Rising was initiated on December 1, 2017 by Dean Mark McCaslin (Dean of Research & Scholarship, SAS), Dr. James Gillespie (Research Chair & Leader, COR), Dr. Jan Cardwell (VP Campus and Academic Director, Detroit UOPX), and fifty (50) executives from the business and community sectors during a strategic planning meeting in Downtown Detroit. The primary purpose for the meeting, held in donated space at a prestigious law firm in Detroit, was to uncover needs for research and scholarship among the Detroit group of leaders, but there was something else that resonated with this group of leaders. They were not interested in talking about their needs they wanted to talk about how to help the City of Detroit and the surrounding region to sustain its comeback. As the conversation evolved an excitement, energy, and awareness permeated and drove the discussion. Leaders shared how they could contribute resources, talent, legal and financial advice. Discussions turned from personal needs to contributions for the good of the City. Commentaries and discussions were captured and later sent out by email; which prompted more feedback, thoughts and ideas.  A movement was launched. Most importantly the foundation of a new service and support organization was launched – Detroit Rising (Cardwell & Gillespie, 2018).

What started as a request to support the research needs of business and community leaders in Detroit and South East Michigan turned into the birth of a service group.  We found ourselves involved in a practical application of Boyer's Scholarship of Engagement, a domain offered by Boyer (1996) as a challenge to universities to "engage in civic advancement" (p. 15). Although this was not the original intention of the meeting on December 1, 2017, this group of Detroit leaders were engaged. Their engagement was confirmed as thoughts and ideas, describing things we could do to support the City of Detroit’s restoration continued to pour in by email after the December meeting. It was immediately clear that we needed to organize a steering committee to review and organize the ideas into a potential plan.

Our first steering committee teleconference was in January. The holidays passed, and it was time to get the steering committee moving. The steering committee included the following members: a CEO and President of a workforce placement company, a US Navy Captain, Vice President of an engineering consultant company, President of a digital technology company, President of an HR recruiting company, President of an executive recruiting company, CEO of a business development company, CEO of a branding company, Director of a technology entrepreneur company, Dr. Gillespie and myself.  This impressive and diverse group of local leaders were rolling up their sleeves to get something started.

In February, the steering committee met for a brainstorming session. We organized, catalogued, and prioritized the collection of ideas and produced mission, vision, and core-values statements for Detroit Rising.

  • Vision Statement- What we hope to achieve

Detroit Rising will be the highly respected, trusted enabler that unifies and strengthens the efforts of stakeholders across private and public sectors to assure the sustainable restoration and future prosperity of Detroit and the next generation of Detroiters.

  • Mission Statement – What we will do to achieve the vision

Our mission is to be the unifying force that bridges the efforts of individuals and organizations into an effective, successful “movement” for the sustainable restoration and future prosperity of Detroit and its people.

  • We will establish a resource network committed to keeping Detroit Rising.
  • We will connect individuals and organizations and resources.
  • We will build educable paths and bridges to keep Detroit Rising.

 

  • Values Statement – how we will hold ourselves accountable
  • We will embed collaboration, partnership, transparency and alliance building into each and everything we do. 
  • We will act with integrity and retain a non-partisan approach. 
  • We will exemplify the spirit of inclusion, strive to achieve the win-win, pursue reasonable expectations and meet people where they are. 

 

With our Vision, Mission, and Values scoped out, we are in good shape to continue building the organization. This is an exciting development for our University and for the Detroit region. Over the next few months I will share the progress of Detroit Rising.  I welcome your comments thoughts and ideas.

In my next post, I will talk about how the Detroit Rising project is highly relevant to the Boyer’s approach to Scholarship of Engagement.

 

Comments

Janice Cardwell's picture Janice Cardwell | June 28, 2018 2:14 am MST

Qreat question! The biggest challenge was not knowing each other. The greatest opportunity is building social capital and getting to know each other. 

Janice Cardwell's picture Janice Cardwell | June 28, 2018 2:13 am MST

Qreat question! The biggest challenge was not knowing each other. The greatest opportunity is building social capital and getting to know each other. 

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