Students Attend US Social Forum in Detroit

June 28, 2010

logoFurthering Rollins’ mission of “global citizenship and responsible leadership,” nine students attended the United States Social Forum (USSF) in Detroit, Michigan, through the Media and Justice Fellowship Immersion organized by the Office of Community Engagement (OCE).

Accompanied by immersion facilitators Visiting Professor of Critical Media and Cultural Studies Susan Salinger and AmeriCorps VISTA representative Gabe Anderson, the students joined more than 900 grassroots organizations and 10,000 individuals from around the world in addressing many of the social and cultural challenges that face domestic and international communities. Implemented in conjunction with Eastern Michigan University (EMU), this was the second community-based learning collaboration between EMU and Rollins. View the students' experiences in real time.

pdfModeled after the World Social Forum, the USSF is made up of representatives from over 45 grassroots organizations in the United States including: Amnesty International USA, Jobs with Justice, the US Human Rights Network, and the East Michigan Environmental Action Council.

As a part of the immersion experience, students traveled into the heart of Detroit, observing its challenged economy, numerous foreclosures, abandoned factories, urban farming projects, alternative housing communities and artist communities that have been converted from blighted areas.

After receiving training, the students served as independent video, audio and web/blog crews for various community and independent media outlets, such as Free Speech TV (Dish Network), and Yes! Magazine.

Assistant Professor of History Julian Chambliss hosted a forum at the U.S. Social Forum. Referencing his summer research on the Hannibal Square Community Land Trust and his primary research on urban planning in early 20th century, Chambliss explored how issues related to de-industrialization and shifting housing market are being interpreted in the grassroots social activism movement. 

“The forum will give me a chance to tie together a national discussion about the struggle to maintain community and integrate that into a discussion of what the land trust represents,” said Chambliss.

Chambliss’ forum was podcast with the help of Director of Technology Support Carrie Schulz, who was also in attendance.

This was a service-learning partnership between Rollins and Eastern Michigan University (EMU) funded by the RNR Foundation. Other colleges that are involved include Temple University and Regis University. For the past three years, the Rhoda Newberry Reed (RNR)Foundation has been supporting community-based learning exchanges between Rollins and EMU through a program called "Nation Abroad." Through this program students at Rollins and EMU have been able to engage in projects that meet pressing community needs in both Detroit and Orlando.

To find out more information about the U.S. Social Forum, visit

--Brittany Fornof (Class of 2011)

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