Meet The D3 Interns: Zach Brown

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit with around 100,000 people. It has the largest proportion of residents of Middle Eastern descent in the United States, with about 40% of residents citing a Middle Eastern heritage.

What is your degree in and why did you choose your degree?

I’m currently working on a double major in Criminal Justice and Arabic with a minor in Computer Science from Michigan State University. With my unique experience growing up in Dearborn, I’ve always been interested in Middle Eastern history, and this led me to a fascination with American counterterrorism policy. I currently work on research regarding the radicalization of Neo-Nazis and far-right groups on the internet through Michigan State’s School of Criminal Justice. I hope to one day do similar research regarding Islamic extremist radicalization for the federal government.

What is your favorite Detroit restaurant?

That’s a close call. Of course, there’re the classics like Slows Bar BQ and Lafayette Coney Island, but I also like some more local places like The Old Shillealagh in Greektown and Bert’s Marketplace out by Eastern Market.

How do you think the work D3 does benefits the region?

D3 provides analysis of real-world data that can be used to better social policy. I think that if the data is out there, we should be doing everything possible to analyze if our policies are working and if not, come up with potential solutions. By providing this analysis, D3 helps to improve the community.

What is your history with Detroit?

Growing up next to the city gave me the perspective of an outsider looking in. I remember heading over to the city for Tigers games and school trips to the DIA as a child, because my parents were always worried about what could happen. After becoming a rebellious teenager with a driver’s license I began making frequent day trips to the city just to explore. I didn’t enjoy living in the suburbs, and Detroit provided a means of escape. My internship at D3 has provided me with an opportunity to live in the city for the summer, and now I’m trying to make the transition from being a tourist a more in-depth understanding of the city.

What are you working on this summer?

At D3, I’ll be working on a wide variety of projects, spanning from compiling a list of CRA compliance scores in Michigan for use in future research to drafting a memo with Dom about the role D3 should take in regards to the 2020 Census. Through the InnovateGov Program at MSU, I’ll also be attending class once a week to learn more about the City of Detroit and its financial history, as well as efforts to change the city that are taking place today. On the weekends, I’ll also get to attend field trips with the other InnovateGov students, to places like Motor City Blight Busters in Old Redford to Belle Isle and the Detroit Historical Museum.