About PSI

Launched in 2017, PSI is a collection of courses that brings together students and faculty from law and other disciplines to actively apply creative problem solving, collaboration, and design thinking skills to complex, pressing challenges in a classroom setting. 

PSI classes allow students to learn about topics such as sustainable food systems, connected and automated vehicles, human trafficking, “fake news,” firearm violence, and new music business models. At the same time, these classes allow students to learn about and apply tools, such as problem reframing, practicing empathy, prototyping, and more, that they will continue to apply in other classes, collaborative efforts, and the workplace.

Students and faculty have joined PSI from a range of U-M units, including Nursing, the Campus Farm, Engineering, History of Art, Information, Sociology, SEAS, Medicine, and Business.

Students in PSI Classes

  • Develop creative problem-solving tools
  • Lend their expertise and skills to a multidisciplinary team
  • Learn human-centered design thinking skills
  • Conduct research on, and engage in, advancing solutions to real-world challenges
  • Collaborate with a range of U-M graduate and professional students and faculty experts

PSI Classes at a Glance

  • Are open to all U-M graduate and professional students, fostering cross-campus collaboration
  • Combine substantive learning and hands-on skill development
  • Change every term, offering new challenges and teaching teams
Problem Solving Course Untangles a Web of Tribal Sovereignty and Policing

Students in Michigan Law’s Problem Solving Initiative (PSI) course Policing by Indian Tribes had the opportunity to take a deep dive into the legal challenges that complicate law enforcement in Native American communities. 

A person with shoulder-length hair, a beard, and a flannel shirt speaks to a group of students.
Slavery’s Legacy in Architecture and Law

“How do we confront these ongoing legacies of slavery?” asks C.deBaca, who teaches the PSI course in collaboration with Phillip Bernstein, associate dean and professor adjunct at the Yale School of Architecture.

A group of students tours a plantation.

Register Now for PSI Classes

Challenge yourself with a Problem Solving Initiative class. Take a multi-disciplinary approach to real world problems. 

PSI courses are 3-credit classes held at the Law School every Fall and Winter semester. Student teams use design thinking to research and build replicable, scalable, and disruptive solutions to real world challenges. 

Michigan Law students use the Class Bidding process to select and register for PSI courses.

PSI courses are “professor pick,” which involve an application, selection, and waitlist process. To request a PSI course or for information on registering please email [email protected] or select REGISTER and submit the form. Simply fill out the form, submit it, and wait for your registration to be approved! 

Please note: We use the “professor pick” process only as a measure to ensure we have enough diversity of disciplines to make the course a true PSI experience. 

UM graduate and professional students outside the Law School

Begin by consulting with your home unit’s graduate or academic advisor to learn about taking courses for credit outside of your home unit. PSI courses are cross-listed as EAS 731, ECON 741, EDUC 717, HS 741, LAW 741, PUBHLTH 741, PUBPOL 710, SI 605, SW 741. The PSI Human Trafficking Lab is also approved as an IPE course.

Current Course Offerings

Defending Against Deepfakes and Disinformation

Instructors: Barbara McQuade (Law) and Florian Schaub (UMSI)

While Artificial Intelligence is an incredible tool for human advancement, it can also be used as a weapon to exploit others and cause harm. As part of the Law School’s Problem Solving Initiative (PSI), this class will explore some of the ways that AI can be used to manipulate and deceive users online. We will discuss how deepfakes can be used to create disinformation about political candidates, to perpetrate fraud scams, and to embarrass celebrities with manufactured photos depicting them in a false light, often evading the reach of law enforcement. We will explore the ways in which these abuses cause harms at the individual level through financial loss, reputational harm or emotional distress. We will also consider harms that occur at the societal level by eroding confidence in truth and diminishing accountability. Students will work toward developing methods for detecting deep fakes and fostering resilience by devising countermeasures through technical solutions, platform policies, legal regulations, and public education.

Protecting the Exploited: Confronting Child Labor

Instructors: Luis C.deBaca (Law) and Hardy Vieux (Ford School of Public Policy)

Recently in the US children have been found in industrial agriculture, service on late-night custodial crews, roof construction, and food preparation; industries that reduce children to another labor input. Students from varied disciplines will apply design thinking principles to confront this wicked problem facing migrant children, US citizens, and children abroad whose exploitation fuels American consumers and business supply chains. 

Students will confront child labor through a combination of the different professional and practice approaches that they bring to the table. The hallmark of the Michigan Law School’s PSI is assembling graduate and professional students from across the university to combine and enhance their own disciplinary approaches by applying design thinking principles to seemingly intractable problems.

PSI Perspectives

Hear how PSI works and what you’ll gain from professors and students who have been part of the program. 1.) Professor Bridgette Carr speaks to the cross-disciplinary opportunities available through PSI. 2.) PSI student Scott Henry discusses the benefits of working through complex problems and the skills you can develop. 3.) PSI student Marissa Keep explains how PSI changes your understanding of problem-solving and pushes you outside your comfort zone.