The Detroit Fellowship

The Humanity in Action Detroit Fellowship was established in 2017. To see its inaugural 2017 program schedule, please click here.

The program will explore the biography of Detroit — a city deeply emblematic of the tensions of massive economic and cultural change in 20th and 21st century America. The program will place special emphasis on democratic inclusion, equitable development, social entrepreneurship and the health of Detroit's communities. Humanity in Action will task the Fellows with challenging their assumptions about race, class, develo2018pment, health and equity among other fundamental issues. The Detroit Fellowship builds upon the model the organization developed for the Philanthropy and Social Enterprise Fellowship

The Detroit Fellowship joined Humanity in Action's John Lewis Fellowship in Atlanta as the second U.S.-based annual program, along with our annual European programs in Amsterdam, Berlin, Copenhagen, Sarajevo and Warsaw.


Humanity in Action will bring together a group of 22 European and American university students and recent graduates – focusing particularly on students from the Detroit-area and the state of Michigan – for an intensive program that will examine the promise, failure and possibilities of social and economic progress in Detroit.

The Detroit Fellowship's Curriculum

Detroit is often misunderstood as an exceptional and isolated case of U.S. economic and urban decline. Our program will seek to challenge this narrative by exploring Detroit as one of many postindustrial cities in the United States that face serious social, economic, political and cultural challenges. Our program will place Detroit's history and contemporary issues within the larger national context of the transformation of urban and regional economies at at time of profound inequality in the United States. Detroit is a critical place to explore fundamental questions of democratic inclusion, equitable development, social entrepreneurship and the health of its communities. By investigating the city's biography, the Fellows will gain exposure to the wide range of forces that shaped Detroit, along with so many other American cities. The city's industrialization and emergence as a major economic center. The automobile and the American Dream. Waves of immigration and religious diversity. The Great Migration to northern cities and the development of an African American middle class. The culture and music of Detroit. The rise of organized labor. Socioeconomic stratification. Racial tensions and the uprisings of the 1940s and 1960s. White flight to the suburbs and disinvestment in the city. Changing American attitudes toward cities. Urban sprawl and separated enclaves. The physical decay and bankruptcy of the city. Economic development in greater Southeast Michigan. National philanthropies' "Grand Bargain" for Detroit. Health disparities and the water crisis in nearby Flint. Social entrepreneurship. And the enduring strength of community organizations that seek a stronger future. While the Detroit Fellowship will begin by examining the city's important history, the program will place particular emphasis on solutions through civic engagement to longstanding challenges.

Meeting the International Network

Prior to leaving for Detroit, all the selected Detroit Fellows from Greece are invited to meet the international network at the 9th Humanity in Action International Conference, taking place in Strasbourg from July 5 to 8, 2018. The International Conference is the annual gathering of Humanity in Action Fellows, Senior Fellows, Board Members, friends of the organization and partner organizations. Humanity in Action covers the conference costs (participation, accommodation and meals) for Detroit Fellows from Greece.

To get a better understanding of what the Humanity in Action International Conferences look like, please see past agendas here.