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University of Michigan School of Information


Skill development opportunities

In addition to the skills gained in the classroom setting, contemporary students need to learn and hone essential skills to be competitive in today’s marketplace and be well suited to engage in the demands of society broadly.

These skills, as cited by a variety of leading researchers, change-makers, and hiring organizations, include creativity, project management, analytical thinking and written and verbal communication.

Four students hold a long paper in front of a fire station
UMSI students worked with the Ferndale Fire Department to simplify and digitize a complicated reporting form for area businesses.

The Engaged Learning Office seeks to prepare students by providing multiple opportunities for skill development. These areas span the essential skill development areas of communication, organization, problem definition and strategic thinking, amongst other areas. Opportunities at UMSI are grounded in the following skill development areas:  

Change management: Tools, methods and processes that enable and influence organizational innovation and change.

  • Design thinking
  • Creative problem solving
  • Project management
  • Resource use
  • Stakeholder engagement and influence
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Survey design
  • Innovation
  • Motivation
  • Strategic thinking

Client/partner engagement: Ethically engaging with organizations, developing relationships and being culturally responsive.

  • Communication
  • Project management
  • Problem statement definition
  • Stakeholder engagement
  • Ethical engagement
  • Cultural responsiveness
  • Public presentation

Teamwork/collaboration: The ability to work together by setting expectations and reaching a common goal.

  • Self-awareness and social identities
  • Project management
  • Role development
  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Cultural awareness
  • Conflict resolution

Skill development opportunity areas

At UMSI, students have many opportunities to gain, practice and further these skills.

Curricular experiences: Numerous courses at UMSI have a client-based component to learning outcomes. These courses provide students with a high-impact learning experience that engages them in complex, ambiguous problem-solving. Courses that commonly have a client-based learning component include:

  • UX Field Research in the Public Sector (SI 350)
  • BSI Capstone (SI 405/405 and SI 407/487)
  • Contextual Inquiry and Consulting Foundations (SI 501)
  • Citizen Interaction Design (SI 538)
  • Engaging with Communities (SI 547)
  • Needs Assessment and Usability Evaluation (SI 622)
  • Assessment in Cultural Institutions (SI 633)
  • Advanced User Research in the Field (SI 682)
  • MSI Mastery Courses (SI 699)
Students stand next to a heidelberg project sign
UMSI students worked on a data project with the Heidelberg Project in Detroit.

Applied, immersive programs: At U-M and UMSI, students can participate in co-curricular programs that provide the opportunity to experience essential skill development more deeply. In these experiences, students often work independently or with minimal guidance on problems provided by community-based organizations or corporations. Programs based in essential skill development include:

  • CUTgroup
  • UX Lab
  • Innovation in Action
  • UMSI Exposition
  • Semester in Detroit
  • Community Technical Assistance Program
  • Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project

Skill-based workshops: Introductory opportunities to gain knowledge about skills, methods, processes or concepts related to change management, client/partner engagement and teamwork. Opportunities include:

  • Entering, Engaging, and Exiting with Communities - facilitated by the Ginsberg Center
  • Ethical User Research - Engaged Learning Office
  • Agile Project Management
  • Learning Tableau

Interested in any of these programs? Email [email protected].