Since 2017, students and faculty from a range of U-M units, including Nursing, the Campus Farm, Engineering, History of Art, Information, Sociology, SEAS, Medicine, and Business, have worked on a wide array of challenges as part of the Problem Solving Initiative.

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.

Human-centered Design

PSI student Scott Henry talks about the benefits of working on complex problems and acquiring skills you can apply in the workplace by participating in a PSI class.

A Mindset Shift

Marissa Keep talks about thinking about 'what is problem-solving?' and how PSI gives an opportunity to stretch your mind as a pre-professional.

Cross-disciplinary Opportunities

Professor Carr talks about the cross-disciplinary opportunities available to students who take part in the Problem Solving Initiative.

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

  • 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
  • Have been taught by Law School faculty and faculty partners from units that include Architecture and Urban Planning, Business, Economics, Engineering, History of Art, Information, Kinesiology, Nursing, the Medical School, Music, and Sociology

Many UM units offer collaborative, multi-disciplinary, problem-based, and design-thinking opportunities that graduate and professional students can participate in. UM Law Students: If you are interested in taking classes outside the Law School, consult with the Office of Student Life and review information about enrolling in non-Law classes. 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.

  • ArtsEngine

    ArtsEngine supports creative collaborations among students through events, programming, funding, and advising. Grants support individual and group design work, and UARTS 250/550 Creative Process is open to all UM students. ArtsEngine also provides a platform for finding on-campus partners who are interested in collaborating on a range of projects.

  • Business+Impact at Ross

    Business+Impact offers programs and opportunities for students who want to address a pressing social, environmental, or lifestyle challenge. Impact Courses cover a range of issues related to social impact, social justice, and more.

  • Center for Socially Engaged Design

    C-SED works with partners in a variety of ways, including through customized workshops, C-SED courses, the Socially Engaged Design Academy (SEDA), Innovation in Action, and Design Jams.

  • Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project (DNEP)

    DNEP is an interdisciplinary clinic that matches UM faculty and students to Detroit businesses to provide professional services and address challenges. Some classes organized by DNEP are open to all UM students; others are limited to particular units.

  • Engaged Michigan

    Engaged Michigan’s website summarizes information about some of UM’s Engaged Learning opportunities, including Engaged Learning Centers, hubs, and partner programs that develop creativity, foster intercultural engagement, promote social and civic responsibility and ethical reasoning, encourage collaboration, communication, and teamwork, and encourage students to understand and manage risk and innovate.

  • Engaged Pedagogy Initiative

    The EPI is a semester-long community-based learning, graduate training program focused on teaching and professional development. Graduate students from any field who are interested in CBL and developing CBL courses can apply.

  • Ginsberg Center

    The Ginsberg Center advances social change for the public good. The Center’s website includes information on community-engaged courses, grants and scholarships, support for student organizations, and academic and community partnership opportunities.

  • Humanities Collaboratory

    The Humanities Collaboratory fosters collaborative scholarship by funding research and projects initiated by UM faculty and students.

  • Integrative Systems + Design

    ISD offers a range of interdisciplinary technical graduate degrees, professional certificates, and other opportunities, both for UM Engineering students and others.

  • Multidisciplinary Design Program

    MDP provides opportunities for students to be part of projects focused on engineering design challenges, including student-initiated experiential work. In some cases, it is possible for MA students to earn academic credit for MDP work.

  • Munger Graduate Residences

    Munger organizes a Case Competition for teams of graduate and professional students and a Three Minute Thesis Competition for graduate and professional students.

  • Poverty Solutions

    Poverty Solutions aims to prevent and alleviate poverty through action-based research that informs policymakers, community organizations, government entities, and practitioners about what works in confronting poverty. Poverty Solutions offers a variety of engaged learning opportunities, academic programs, and research opportunities for UM students.

  • Program in Practical Policy Engagement

    P3E is housed at the Ford School of Public Policy. P3E offers engaged learning opportunities to UM students, and PUBPOL 578, Strategic Public Policy Consulting, is open to all UM students.

  • School of Information

    The School of Information allows students from all disciplines to enroll in SI 538, Citizen Interaction Design Studio, to develop information tools that promote citizen engagement with local government.

  • University of Michigan Library

    The University of Michigan Library offers mini grants to students to support innovative and collaborative projects that make a real-life impact. Grant recipients receive training and support from library mentors and access to design and technology labs and collaboration spaces.

UM program and unit administrators: If you have information about opportunities for UM graduate and professional students that promote human-centered design thinking, problem-based learning, and multi-disciplinary collaboration, please contact us:



Contact us if you have a question about the Problem Solving Initiative.