Cultures of Creativity in Detroit, Michigan


About the Program
information for RCAH and Engineering majors
Program Faculty
Program Expectations
Where you will stay and learn
Application Process
Academic Credit, Tuition, and Program Fee
Application Form
Contact for more information


Cultures of Creativity::  Freshman Seminar Away in Detroit
July 26 - August 2, 2014
UGS 103 (2 credits)

This seminar explores cultures of creativity in Detroit through a multi-day, immersive residential experience in the city. Dr. David Sheridan will guide your exploration of Detroit’s vibrant creative cultures by challenging you to discuss your learning as seminar participants. Readings and academic assignments are designed to enhance your understanding and awareness of esthetic and economic contexts of art and creativity. Together we will:

  • Experience the special creative culture of Detroit.
  • Meet working artists, engineers, musicians, and designers.
  • Visit a secret museum for Detroit techno music.
  • Visit design centers that combine art and engineering to produce next-generation products, from cars to electronics.
  • Explore Detroit’s unique restaurants and nightlife.
  • Live with others who share your passion for learning.

The city of Detroit has a rich tradition of creativity and innovation that continues to evolve in the present day. This tradition is strongly characterized by the melding of artistic and technical expertise, as can be seen in the style of industrial designer Harley Earl, the architecture of Albert Kahn, and the techno music of Juan Atkins. This mixture of technical and artistic ingredients is also visible in contemporary neighborhood projects like Talking Fence, which employs solar panels and LED displays to make visible the stories of residents in Detroit's Brightmoor neighborhood. Even Berry Gordy's Motown was enabled by a combination of artistic talents (singers, songwriters, and musicians) and technical resources (sound technicians and recording equipment). The Freshman Seminar Away in Detroit will explore real-world cultures of creativity found in product design studios, techno music studios, art studios, business incubators, and more. This "study away" seminar will bring arts and humanities students and engineering students together for a week of intensive learning in Detroit. We will meet working professionals from technical and artistic backgrounds who are solving problems in corporate and community settings.

Cultures of Creativity is a two-course sequence for Engineering and RCAH students that starts with a dynamic freshman seminar away in Detroit, Michigan. The focus of this sequence will be on the way that professionals from technical and artistic backgrounds work together to achieve creative solutions to real-world problems in both the corporate and community-based settings.  Engineering and RCAH students will be automatically enrolled in a special section of EGR 100 or RCAH 395 during Fall semester.

EGR 100 OR RCAH 395 during Fall 2014
Engineering students will enroll in EGR100 (2 credits), a required course for all engineering freshman. RCAH students will enroll in RCAH 395 (3 credits). Students enrolled in these linked courses will meet jointly several times during the fall semester to work collaboratively on community-based projects that require creative solutions. A major goal of the class will be for students from artistic and technical backgrounds to work together.


Your professor is Dr. David Sheridan, an Assistant Professor in the Residential College for Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. His interests include writing and rhetoric, especially the intersection of rhetoric, new media, and participation in public life. More specialized interests include "serious games" and simulations, instructional technology, the city of Detroit, and alternative learning spaces and structures (like writing centers and living-learning communities). Dr. Sheridan has a BA from University of Michigan (where he focused on creative writing in the Residential College), an MFA in creative writing from Western Michigan University, and a PhD in English from Michigan State University. He has also served as associate director and (briefly) director of the Writing Center at MSU. When he has a spare moment, Dave dabbles in photography and new media and looks for opportunities to play the drums in various garage-band venues.

Dr. Sheridan loves working with students and has a passion for the City of Detroit. You are welcome to contact him at or (517) 884-1326. He will be residing in Towers Residential Suites with you during the program.


Students in this program must exhibit a high level of personal responsibility and appropriate behavior. Based on the short, intensive nature of the program, students are expected to keep their focus on academic and programmatic participation. All students in the program are required to reside in Towers Residential Suites at Wayne State University for residential portion of the seminar in Detroit, MI.


Faculty and students will be staying in the Towers Residential Suites at Wayne State University. The Towers Residential Suites is an 11 story tower, with views as far as the Ambassador Bridge. The rooms are suite style, containing four bedrooms attached to a shared living space.

* Live-in community director and student resident assistants
* Study rooms and social lounges on each floor
* Each room equipped with high-speed Internet connection and cable
* Fully equipped on-site laundry facilities
* Fitness facilities
* On-site dining hall and mini Barnes & Noble bookstore
* Staffed 24-hour reception desk with OneCard access system for campus safety and security.

Students will have access to the Wayne State University campus. There are a variety of dining options available, as well as shopping and services on campus.

Our primary classrooms will be at Wayne State University or the Russell Industrial Center. Transportation to/from field experience sites around the city will be provided by the faculty member and staff coordinator in two ten-passenger vans.


The Freshman Seminar Away in Detroit, Michigan is an exciting way for first-year freshmen to begin their academic career. The freshman seminar is open to all first-year freshman . Only first year students entering Michigan State University in Fall 2014 are eligible. Students with majors in RCAH and Engineering will be automatically enrolled in the fall Cultures of Creativity course sequence in their respective colleges.

We encourage students to apply immediately to secure their spot in the program. Applications will continue to be accepted until the program is filled with confirmed participants.

Once admitted to Michigan State University, you may submit your application to the MSU Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education in person, by fax, or by mail. A complete application requires your signature and a parent’s/guardian’s signature if you are under age 18 at the time of application.

If admitted into the seminar, you will receive an official acceptance packet in via email. To confirm your admission into the seminar, you must sign and return specific forms included in the acceptance packet to the Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education within 3 days of the date of your acceptance letter or you may lose your space in the seminar. A $100 non-refundable deposit is charged to your student account once you confirm attendance into the seminar. The deposit is part of the total program fee of $450 which will be billed to your MSU account.

Admission into this seminar requires that you maintain your status as an MSU freshman and be in good academic and disciplinary standing. Withdrawal from the seminar may result in financial penalties, as explained in the Withdrawal section below. (NOTE: Your participation may be denied or your participation approval may be revoked if your conduct before departure raises doubts as to your suitability for seminar participation.)


If accepted to the seminar you will be registered for UGS 103 (2 credits) and charged for a total of two credits of tuition as part of your fall tuition bill. In addition to your tuition, you will also be charged a program fee, which includes:

  • Deposit of $100 billed to your MSU account upon confirmation of acceptance
  • All meals an lodging while in Detroit
  • Books and academic resources for UGS 103 only
  • Ground transportation and admissions for excursions and field trips

The program fee is $450.

Amounts not included in the program fee for which participants will need to budget include:

  • Transportation to and from Detroit, Michigan
  • Additional meals/snacks
  • Personal spending money

Both tuition and program fees will be billed to your MSU student account.

Additional Credit and Tuition Information for RCAH and Engineering Students
Students with majors in RCAH and Engineering will be automatically enrolled in the fall Cultures of Creativity course sequence in their respective colleges, either EGR 100 or RCAH 295 (2 credits) and charged for a these credits as part of their fall tuition bill.


Complete the application and return it by email or fax it to (517) 432-2069.    Applications will be accepted until the program is filled.


Angela Sorrells-Jones
Office of the Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education
426 Auditorium Road, Room 312
East Lansing, MI 48824

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