• The Right to the Second City:
    The Immigrant Experience in Chicago

Chicago Studies Quarter: The Right to the Second City

Founded in 1833, Chicago was the fifth largest city in the world by the end of the 19th century—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.

This sequence is designed to help you bridge theory and practice in environmental studies. The program features three integrated courses, projects, field trips, guest lectures, and presentations. Students will work in the classroom and field as they integrate perspectives from the sciences, humanities, and social sciences in the study of local environments and communities.

APPLY TODAY! Applications accepted until February 4, 2019.

Completion of the Chicago Studies Quarter fulfills the academic requirement for the Chicago Studies Certificate Program, and the courses satisfy the Public Policy windows or methods practicum requirement.

Courses & Instructors

William Nickell
This course provides an interactive survey of methodologies that engage the experiences of immigrants in Chicago. Exploring practices ranging from history to fiction, activism to memorialization, this course will introduce students to a variety of the ways that one can approach the Second City.
Angelina Ilieva
This course investigates the individual experience of immigration: how do immigrants recreate themselves in this alien world in which they seem to lose part of themselves? How do they find their voice and make a place for themselves in their adoptive homes? If in the new world the immigrant becomes a new person, what meanings are still carried in traditional values and culture? How do they remember their origins and record new experiences?
Nada Petkovic
“The city is the site where people of all origins and classes mingle, however reluctantly and agonistically, to produce a common if perpetually changing and transitory life.” (David Harvey) This course will use the urban studies lens to explore the complex history of immigration to Chicago, with close attention to communities of East European origin. Drawing on anthropological theory and ethnographic materials, we will study the ways in which the city and its new citizens transform one another.


Participants in the Chicago Studies Quarters are required to take all three associated courses. Students may register for a fourth course of their choosing, but should be mindful of the Chicago Studies Quarter courses' meeting times and group activities when selecting a fourth course.

CSQ excursions will be held regularly on Fridays. These sessions are a mandatory component of the Quarter, and will usually take place in mornings and/or early afternoons.