The Michigan Meeting is a series of annual interdisciplinary meetings sponsored by the Rackham School of Graduate Studies that provide a visible and viable venue to address topics of interdisciplinary and global importance. The Michigan Meetings both support and enhance the ability of University of Michigan faculty to address such issues. The Michigan Meetings bring together faculty and students at U-M with colleagues from around the nation and the world to create intellectually exciting events of both scholarly and practical importance.
The May 2015 Michigan Meeting, hosted by the University of Michigan, explored the changing role of the university and what it means to be an academic in a society facing complex scientific, technological, and social challenges. More than 40 speakers (including four university presidents) and 225 registrants attended this three-day conference to discuss issues of social relevance, such as sustainability, health care, gun control, fiscal policy, and international affairs, focusing on four key themes:
- What is engagement, and should we do it?
- What are the ground rules for public and political engagement?
- What models have worked, and what can we learn from them?
- What are the obstacles to engagement, and how can they be overcome?
This report summarizes this discussion, driven by a deep concern that the academy is facing a crisis of relevance—a crisis driven by multiple forces that are compelling change. This conference was made possible by the sponsorship of the Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies at the University of Michigan. Supplemental support for this conference was also provided by the Erb Institute, the Graham Institute, the Michigan Energy Institute, and the Risk Science Center.