• Introductory Experiences
    for Civic Impact

Preparing UChicago students for engagement in Chicago and beyond

UChicago students have many opportunities to prepare themselves for urban study and engagement, preparation that includes understanding the intellectual and ethical frameworks of social justice/community engagement; exposure to different modes of and building concrete skills for engagement; and critically reflecting on one's own practice as an engaged intellectual. The Office of Civic Engagement (OCE) curates such opportunities in partnership with a wide range of University and community-based partners so as to make them more readily available to interested students.

Some of these introductory experiences are cohort programs: group experiences sponsored by various University offices to which students must apply and be accepted. Others are more "modular," self-contained offerings that students can participate in individually and in various combinations based on the competencies they wish to develop.

To fulfill the requirements of the Certificate Program, students must complete at least three introductory experiences. A preferred combination of these includes one "framework" experience; one experience that focuses on a particular issue, skill, or community; and one reflective experience such as the new "Chicago Studies Core" module (open only to students enrolled in the Certificate Program -- click to learn more and register for Spring 2018).

provide participants with an overview of social justice/social responsibility, the basics of intercultural competence (including an understanding of power and privilege), and an exploration of different ways to make a difference. In addition to ongoing workshops on these topics provided by UCSC, the Institute of Politics, the Center for Leadership and Involvement, the Center for Identity + Inclusion and others, a number of cohort programs provide in-depth opportunities to explore these topics in a group setting, including:

  • Chicago Bound (UCSC/IOP pre-orientation cohort program for incoming first-years)
  • Seeds of Justice (year-long UCSC cohort program for first-years)
  • Summer Links (UCSC summer cohort/internship program for upperclass students)
  • Women in Public Service (IOP cohort/leadership program for female students)
For a fuller listing of available framework experiences (including those submitted by enrollees in the Certificate Program), visit the CSCP Wiki.
offer skills- or topic-based training to help participants hone in on how and where they can have impact in Chicago and beyond. OCE's Civic Pathways guides include "Get Started" exposure experiences that can help students explore particular career paths as forms of civic engagement. Civic Skills Modules, many of which are made possible by community partners of the University, are semi-structured trainings that students can pursue individually to develop specialized competencies in support of a wide range of civic paths. Additionally, a number of on-campus cohort programs provide opportunities to explore specific topics and/or develop concrete skills in a group setting, including:

  • Alternative Spring Break (UCSC-sponsored immersion into a single Chicago neighborhood)
  • Bridging the Divide (IOP-sponsored exploration of political engagement)
  • MAPSCorps (summer employment working in Positive Youth Development and public health)
  • Open Exchange (UCSC program engaging students with language skills to support immigrants and refugees)
  • Small Business Growth Program (OCE and Polsky-sponsored consulting cohort)
For a fuller listing of available on- and off-campus focusing experiences (including those submitted by enrollees in the Certificate Program), visit the CSCP Wiki.
offer opportunities for participants to explore the praxis and dialectics of their own engagement. For Certificate Program enrollees, the Chicago Studies Core module (offered quarterly by the Chicago Studies team) holds pride of place among reflective experiences; however, other experiences (such as CLI's regular "Modus Vivendi Society" retreats) may also afford students the chance to critically examine their position and privilege as engaged scholars.

For a listing of upcoming Chicago Studies Core offerings, as well as other possible reflective experiences (including those submitted by enrollees in the Certificate Program), visit the CSCP Wiki.

Sample Civic Pathways and Contributing Partners

Arts & Humanities Illinois Humanities; Arts & Public Life

Education Neighborhood Schools Program

Environment Office of Sustainability

Journalism South Side Weekly, City Bureau

Politics Institute of Politics

Urban Research UChicago Urban