Amy Krings is a doctoral candidate in the Social Work and Political Science Joint Doctoral Program and will defend her dissertation in May 2015. Amy’s research interests include community organizations, social movements, urban politics, and qualitative research methods. Her dissertation, Building Bridges Where There is Nothing Left to Burn: The Campaign for Environmental Justice within a Southwest Detroit Border Community, is an ethnographic study of a low-income community’s efforts to secure protections and investments in exchange for hosting a new international bridge crossing. Drawing from more than three years of participant observation (2010 – 2014), including seventy in-depth interviews and an analysis of media coverage, she examines why and how power dynamics influence this neighborhood group's goal and tactical selection, ability to build alliances, and campaign outcomes. She concludes by demonstrating why environmental injustices are reproduced at a local level, often in invisible ways.
Amy’s dissertation research is complimented by a number of collaborative projects that utilize qualitative and quantitative research methodologies to examine civic and political participation. For example, she has collaborated with her Social Work advisor, Lorraine Gutiérrez, on two projects. The first is a qualitative, interview-based empirical study about why young people engage in community service. The second is a quantitative assessment of the impacts of social justice education pedagogies, such as service learning and intergroup dialogue, on political participation, civic engagement, and multicultural activism. She has also collaborated with her Political Science advisor, Gregory Markus, to analyze planning processes and in Detroit, Michigan to adapt to the city’s long-term declines in population, employment, tax base, and essential public services.
Prior to coming to the University of Michigan, Amy worked for six years at a Cincinnati non-profit whose mission was to organize citizen-police problem solving teams. Her work included the management of a community-based campaign to reduce street-level gun violence. She also taught classes on Social Change, Macro Social Work, and Community and Political Organizing at her alma mater, Xavier University.