PUBPOL 466: History & Future of Detroit

Fall 2020
Tuesday, Thursday
11:30 am-12:50 pm EDT
Course Location
U-M Course Number
Credit Hours

No large American city grew more rapidly than Detroit from 1900 to the 1930s.  Thanks to Henry Ford and the automobile manufacturing,  Detroit became the prosperous axis mundi of the world vehicle industry.  After World War II, Detroit seemed poised to continue growing.  In 1947, there were 325 manufacturing plants in the city.  Many of those factories were old so firms built modern ones in the suburbs.  The federal government subsidized home building in this era so, at very low cost, whites but not African American could easily buy an attractive suburban home.  The city’s population began to fall in 1950.  Retail trade followed the migration to the suburbs.  By 1990, racial attitudes had changed and African Americans moved in great numbers from the city to the suburbs.  By 2010, the city’s population was only 38% of what it was in 1950.  Detroit lost its tax base and, in 2012, entered bankruptcy.

Coming out of bankruptcy, the city had some funds to improve its very deficient city services.  Major philanthropies began investing in improving the quality of life in Detroit.  Then major employers including Quicken Loans, Little Caesars, General Motors, Ford and Fiat-Chrysler
stated making major investments that are bringing more jobs to the city.  Downtown, Midtown and the east waterfront are prospering. The city’s government began to address long standing problems including neighborhood deterioration.

The course focuses upon the history of Detroit emphasizing both the long history of labor-management and black-white conflicts and recent efforts to make Detroit a diverse, welcoming city with a higher quality of life and numerous job opportunities.

There are readings for each class meeting and you will be asked to write a short op-ed essay.  For additional information: