About The Problem Solving Initiative

The professors are facilitators, conveners,project leaders, and (occasionally) experts,but students ultimately run the show.

This innovative program is committed to ideological diversity in approaches to problem solving and provides a platform for the development of creative solutions to some of the world’s most difficult challenges in business and society by giving students a framework for analyzing and solving complex problems and guiding organizations through innovation and change. Through a team-based, experiential, and interdisciplinary learning model, small groups of students work with top-notch faculty to explore and offer solutions to emerging, complex, multifaceted problems. The small group classes, which bring together students from U-M graduate and professional schools, give participants a unique opportunity to receive guidance from accomplished instructors and leading experts in the business and policy communities. The format is designed to allow students to represent the unique perspective of their academic discipline while working together with faculty and outside experts to propose a solution to some of the world’s most challenging problems.

Benefits for Students

  • Small group learning with highly accomplished faculty and other U-M graduate and professional students
  • Exposure to different ways of thinking—including cross-disciplinary cultural competency—and working with a team
  • Development of an entrepreneurial mindset and tolerance for risk taking and ambiguity
  • Ability to assume a leadership role in structuring their educational experience
  • Opportunity to apply subject matter expertise in ways that will help solve problems that matter
  • Networking and relationship building with other students and industry experts
  • Problem solving skill development that directly translates into value add for public and private sector employers

Program Elements

  • Top Faculty Experts
  • U-M Graduate and Professional Students from Multiple Disciplines
  • Commitment to Ideological Diversity in Approaches to Solving Problems
  • Introduction to Problem Solving
  • Issue-Intensive Lectures
  • Industry Speakers
  • Site Visits
  • Team Lab

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Program Leadership

Since joining the Michigan Law faculty in fall 2004, Professor Alicia J. Davis has taught Enterprise Organization, Mergers and Acquisitions, Investor Protection, and the Law and Economics Workshop. She also serves as the associate dean for strategic initiatives. Her current research includes projects in corporate governance and securities regulation. Before coming to Michigan Law, Professor Davis practiced law at Kirkland & Ellis LLP in Washington, D.C., where she represented public and private companies and private equity firms in mergers and acquisitions and leveraged buyout transactions. Her professional experience also includes time as an investment banker, first with Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York, where her clients included Fortune 100 companies pursuing equity and debt financings, and later with Raymond James & Associates in St. Petersburg, Florida, where she served as a vice president and represented public and private companies in middle market mergers and acquisitions transactions. Professor Davis served as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago Law School in fall 2010 and is a member of the Florida and District of Columbia Bars. She earned her BS in business administration, summa cum laude, from Florida A&M University, her MBA from Harvard Business School, and her JD from Yale Law School.