• A curricular opportunity for a small cohort of undergraduate students to immerse themselves in academic, experiential, interdisciplinary study of Chicago, taught by a unique team of instructors to provide a singular place-based learning experience during the Spring Quarter

Chicago Studies Quarter

The Chicago Studies Quarter, developed by the Chicago Studies Faculty Directors in collaboration with the Office of Civic Engagement and a range of academic and civic partners across the campus and the city, offers a cohesive set of courses that join classroom instruction with experiential learning opportunities, engaging students in the diverse communities that make up this city. The program is open to 20 undergraduates chosen through a competitive application process. Selected students will engage in locally-rooted courses and co-curricular programming that familiarizes them with aspects of Chicago that distinguish it as an exemplary world city. The Chicago Studies Quarter mirrors the University's various Study Abroad programs, especially those based in cities, that advocate civic literacy, contact, acculturation, and excursion as companion dimensions of learning, alongside disciplinary training. Additionally the Chicago Studies Quarter presumes that Chicago, like all major world cities, presents an unfamiliar and challenging environment for those not native to it – an environment, nonetheless, that can be effectively negotiated through engaged inquiry and a conscientious approach to residence.

Students immerse themselves in Chicago through three classes, taught by distinguished instructors from a range of disciplines, all deeply versed in aspects of the life and history of the city's diverse communities. Like Study Abroad courses, these classes utilize excursions, guest speakers, and engagement with stakeholder groups and leaders to enrich class readings and assignments. Fridays, the cohort participates in a program of trips to key sites in the city, including restaurants, cultural centers, ecological and historical sites, and advocacy institutions.

Examples of previous Chicago Studies Quarter themes and courses can be found below. The Chicago Studies Faculty Director and Advisory Group will assist instructors and departments in the development and integration of proposed Quarters and courses.


Founded in 1833, by the end of the 19th century Chicago was the 5th largest city in the world—with much of that growth coming from immigration from Southern and Eastern Europe. The statue in New York Harbor welcomed these strangers, and in Chicago they found work in factories and created new neighborhoods, but they also faced prejudice, poverty, alienation—and eventually, restrictive quotas limiting their number. Using East European immigration as a case study, we will examine mass movement to Chicago from the late 19th century to the present. Guest speakers and field trips will explore other significant migrations within the Americas and beyond, and a practicum will be devoted to methods of documenting and studying immigrant experience and memory throughout the world.

CSQ 2019 Courses

ENST 27210 — Approaches to the Second City: Materials and Methods (William Nickell, Slavic Languages and Literatures)
ENST 27125 — Voices of Alterity and the Languages of Immigration (Angelina Ilieva, Slavic Languages and Literatures)
ENST 27330 — Spaces of Hope: The City and Its Immigrants (Nada Petkovic, Slavic Languages and Literatures)


The Calumet region, extending from Chicago’s south side along Lake Michigan into Indiana and Michigan, was once a vast network of wetlands, lakes, prairies, and dunes. This region lies at the intersection of pre-contact distributions of northern boreal forest, prairie, savanna, and dune. While the area saw significant use prior to European colonization, it was only in the last 150 years that human land use — especially heavy industry and urban development — began to radically reshape the region. In spite of this, the Calumet is still home to significant levels of biodiversity. Students in the Calumet Quarter are part of an innovative example of cooperative conservation, the 70+ member Calumet Initiative, which brings together scientists, planners, community groups, local residents, and business with the goal of revitalizing both the local economy and the ecological riches of the Calumet region. This sequence was designed to bridge theory and practice in environmental studies.

CSQ 2018 Courses

ENST 27150 — Urban Design with Nature: Assessing Social and Natural Realms in the Calumet Region (Sabina Shaikh, Environmental Economics/Policy and Emily Talen, Urban Studies)
ENST 27221 — Sustainable Urbanism (Doug Farr, Architecture)
ENST 27325 — Urban Ecology in the Calumet Region (Alison Anastasio, Ecology)


This sequence explored the dialectics of place, memory, and representation with a focus on the lived-in experiences of Chicago residents, especially in public housing as designed and managed by the Chicago Housing Authority during the 20th Century.

CSQ 2017 Courses

ENGL 28816 — Scenes of Chicago Housing (Adrienne Brown, Literature)
HIST 27708 — Life Stories, Sense of Place, & Active Aging in Chicago (Adam Green, History)
HIST 20330 — Writing Chicago: Practicing Narrative History & Biography (Nora Titone, Dramaturgy & Creative Writing)


This sequence considered the geographic, cultural, and movement-related factors that led to Chicago's establishment, and subsequent reinventions, as a world-class city.

CSQ 2016 Courses

GEOG 23700 — Placing Chicago: Geographical Perspectives on a World Metropolis (Michael Conzen, Geography)
HIST 27707 — Making Chicago: Chapters in the City's History (Kathleen Conzen, History)
PBPL 28050 — Remaking Chicago: The City that Works on Social Change (Chad Broughton, Public Policy)

Get Involved with Chicago Studies Quarter!

Propose a Quarter theme or course (for faculty)

Explore CSQ 2018: Calumet

Video Testimonials from Quarter Participants