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July 2022 Director’s Update

Dear Center for Academic Innovation Community,

When the Supreme Court ruled there is no constitutional right to an abortion, thus striking down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision after nearly 50 years, there were strong reactions throughout the country and across the political spectrum. But there is more. There is also anger and confusion as people are seeking answers to their questions, including what it means for the future. 

CAI stands in full support of President Coleman’s statement and we will work to support the efforts of the university. As noted, “[o]ur campus is more than half women; we care about our own communities as well as those we serve through clinical care and education.”

Yes, we serve through education, which is why I’m so proud to work at a center full of engaged, passionate, brilliant minds ready to take on the day’s most significant issues. One of our principles is to help foster an informed, peaceful, equitable and empowered society. That means facilitating informed and constructive engagement around issues such as abortion access and reproductive rights, and I am thrilled to see the recent launch of the Roe v. Wade Teach-Out at the center.

The free online learning event features leaders at U-M’s law school, such as Barb McQuade and Michigan Medicine’s Dee Fenner and Lisa Harris. President Coleman recently named the latter two as co-chairs of U-M’s abortion access task force. 

The Teach-Out aims to foster a better understanding of abortion and related issues, a historical understanding of reproductive rights, public perception of abortion, important medical considerations and how the recent Supreme Court ruling and potential state decisions impact providers and patients.

This Teach-Out was created in a matter of weeks, engaging with experts, reviewing literature and always focused on broadening understanding and creating a space for engaging and productive dialogue so that people talk with and not past each other.  The goal of the Teach-Out is to bring diverse perspectives of both experts and learners together for rich and thoughtful discourse.

The power of the Teach-Out model is in the ability to quickly conceive of learning opportunities already a part of the community conversation and to create a positive learning environment for meaningful dialogue.

We have dozens of Teach-Outs available free online to learners on the biggest issues of the day. Our role is to confront challenges head-on and to bring together the brightest minds at U-M and beyond. We have created nearly 50 Teach-Outs over the last five years, including learning events dedicated to climate change, police brutality, misinformation, gun violence, the opioid crisis, free speech and the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Archived material remains open and available for learners and instructors through Michigan Online.

I am proud not only of our role in creating these Teach-Outs in the name of empowering learners. I am also proud of the Center for Academic Innovation staff members and CAI faculty innovators who confront the challenges of carefully creating these opportunities for the public. We care deeply about these issues, and we care about bringing knowledge to the world in a format that promotes constructive dialogue and supports creating a more healthy and just world. 

If you would like to see any important issues highlighted through the Teach-Out series, please share them with the center so we can create future transformative learning opportunities for our global community. 

Go blue! 

James DeVaney
Associate Vice Provost for Academic Innovation
Founding Executive Director of the Center for Academic Innovation