The story of Detroit is well known: A once thriving ‘motor city’—the fourth largest in the country—now deindustrialized, underpopulated, and struggling to rebuild itself after bankruptcy. Academics are quick to speculate on solutions for the city’s rebirth, tourists visit the ruinous neighborhoods with awe, architects and artists see the city as a blank slate for imaginative proposals. Yet the real story of Detroit goes quietly untold.

The Detroit 101 lecture series at Princeton University’s School of Architecture will focus on the underlying causes that perpetuated Detroit’s decline, and use this as a lens to supplant the usual disciplinary rhetoric and explore new territories across multiple fields of study. With increased attention on Detroit and urgent calls for social justice in America, many disciplines are retelling the city’s history while others are projecting its future. We must ask ourselves: is the contemporary narrative of Detroit based on a fact or fiction?

This spring, through a student-run series of lunchtime lectures and a final evening lecture, we will examine Detroit through four areas of interest—The Arts; Urbanism + Design; Philanthropy + Public Policy; and History, Race, and Real Estate. We will invite leading voices across multiple disciplines and professions to contribute their specialized perspectives and collectively forge new understandings of Detroit through generative discussion.

Free & open to the public.


Presented By

  • Princeton-Mellon Initiative
  • Lewis Center for the Arts
  • School of Architecture
  • Dalai Lama Fellows
  • Department of African American Studies
  • Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students
  • Program in American Studies