Department of Rhetoric & Writing
Department of Rhetoric & Writing

Professor Donnie Sackey to be UT's nominee for the Whiting Foundation's Public Engagement Fellowship

Mon, February 11, 2019
Professor Donnie Sackey to be UT's nominee for the Whiting Foundation's Public Engagement Fellowship
Dr. Donnie Sackey
Each year, the Whiting Foundation invites selected schools, scholarly societies, and humanities institutions to nominate an early-career faculty member engaged in a scholarly project involving public engagement. The Public Engagement Fellowship of $50,000 is for projects far enough into development or execution to present specific, compelling evidence that they will successfully engage the intended public. For the strongest Fellowship proposals, both the overall strategy and the practical plan to implement the project will be deeply developed, relationships with key collaborators will be in place, and connections with the intended public will have been cultivated. In some cases, the nominee and collaborators may have tested the idea in a pilot, or the project itself may already be underway.
 
This year, Donnie Sackey will be UT's nominee for this Fellowship. 
 
Sackey's project will build on a successfully completed (seed-funded) pilot project that assessed big data-driven approaches to food insecurity and determined that they erased the very human and social contexts that would make it possible to equitably and justly address the issue. The proposed project will redesign the digital data-gathering tools so that they actually engage the communities the project aims to represent (two counties in Detroit) and will culminate in “a public-facing digital project that provides a picture of food insecurity within the state of Michigan that can theoretically help the Food Bank Council and other entities influence public policy around food issues or lobby for funds for food bank allocation.”


Sackey clearly has the background, the scholarly and digital expertise, and the community partnerships to successfully complete this worthy project. His research focuses on the dynamics of environmental public policy deliberation, environmental justice, and environmental cultural history; he takes his rhetorical expertise into vulnerable or devastated communities and works with local populations to enact change. He’s a senior researcher with the Detroit Integrated Vision for Environmental Research through Science and Engagement (D*VERSE), a transdisciplinary research team that works at the intersection of health, environmental, and communication sciences that aims to develop a new approach for evaluating the impact of certain environmental stressors on health in urban settings. And he’s a co-investigator on a grant funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to do risk communication work around the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.  

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