Chicago Studies supports students and course instructors in studying Chicago both in and beyond the classroom. We cross-list Chicago-focused classes or classes that engage the city through experiential learning as Chicago Studies (CHST) classes, and regularly sponsor special curricular opportunities such as Chicago Studies Quarters. All CHST classes count toward the College's interdisciplinary Certificate in Chicago Studies.
For instructors, we support Chicago-based teaching with course/instructional design consultation, content resources, microgrants and logistical support for experiential learning in the city, and more.
From any disciplinary or interdisciplinary perspective
for fieldwork, community-based learning, or archival research
to execute academic projects that impact Chicago communities
to local data, local organizations, and local histories
Chicago Studies (CHST) cross-listed classes explore aspects of Chicago's ecology, culture, politics, history, social structure, and economic life, either as their primary focus or as a significant example/case study. Many engage students directly in the life of the city’s communities, cultural institutions, or community organizations through experiential learning and fieldwork. You can search for CHST classes when registering.
All CHST classes contribute to fulfillment of the academic requirements of the College’s interdisciplinary Certificate in Chicago Studies.
Our Spring 2022 Calumet courses constitute an opportunity for interconnected, interdisciplinary exploration of the historic region that includes Southeast Chicago and Northwest Indiana. While they can be taken independently, we encourage you to try taking two or even all three so as to better understand the richness of this fascinating part of Chicagoland. For more information, visit the Calumet Quarter page on the Program on the Global Environment website.
ENST 26365 Environmental Justice in the Calumet - Raymond Lodato
CHST 26365 / PBPL 26365
As part of the Calumet Quarter, the Environmental Justice practicum will allow students to engage in research on an issue of environmental justice in the Calumet region. The class will partner with a local community organization to identify and study an environmental concern that disproportionately affects people of color in the area, by learning and implementing research methods in the pursuit of a final project that is presented to the community organization. Among the research methods to be employed will be key informant interviews and a general population survey. Students will be responsible for drafting and revising the survey instruments according to established survey research methods. Students will be expected to work collaboratively both with other students and members of the community in order to be maximally responsive to the needs of local residents. This course will include mandatory Friday fieldwork days on 4/15 and 5/13.
ENST 26366 Planning for Land and Life in the Calumet
CHST 26366 / PBPL 26366
The collaborative plan to create a Calumet National Heritage Area that touches aspects of environmental conservation, economic development, cultural heritage, recreation, arts, and education will ground this course’s exploration of landscape history and landscape planning in the Calumet region. Students will investigate this planning process and its relationship to other local and regional plans. A strong focus of the course is on the opportunities and challenges this complex and richly textured industrial region faces in its transition to a more sustainable future. This course is presented in partnership with the Field Museum's Keller Science Action Center, and will include mandatory Friday field excursions on 4/1, 4/8, 4/29, 5/6, 5/13, 5/20, and 5/27.
ENST 27325 Urban Ecology in the Calumet Region - Alison Anastasio
CHST 27325 / GEOG 27325 / PBPL 27325
This course will give students a foundation in the local ecology of the Calumet region. Students will use local research and habitats to understand fundamental concepts in ecology and explore some of these habitats during field trips with scientists and practitioners. As a class, we will examine the extent to which these fundamental ecological concepts are applicable in the urban ecology of the Calumet, and the role humans have had in modifying local habitats, as well as restoring natural and managing novel ecosystems. In 2022, the course focus will be on wetlands: their function ecologically, and their past, present, and future in the region. This course will include mandatory Friday field excursions on 4/1, 4/8, 4/22, 5/6, 5/20, and 5/27.
ANTH 21201 Chicago Blues - Michael Dietler
This course is an anthropological and historical exploration of one of the most original and influential American musical genres in its social and cultural context. We examine transformations in the cultural meaning of the blues and its place within broader American cultural currents, the social and economic situation of blues musicians, and the political economy of blues within the wider music industry.
ENST 25423 Chicago’s Agricultural Hinterland - Sandy Hunter
ANTH 25424 / CHST 25423
Chicago was built by the laborers who drained lakeside swamps to create its neighborhoods, the immigrants who worked in its factories and slaughterhouses, and the business magnates that boosted the construction of a prairie metropolis on the ancestral lands of the Three Fires Confederacy. But, in as much as Chicago was built by these people, it was also built by farmers scattered across the Midwest. For that matter, the city is a product of the hogs, wheat, cattle, and corn raised by those settlers, and the capital that flowed from city to farm and back again.
This class examines the historical development and contemporary consolidation of agricultural production on the prairie surrounding Chicago. We begin with the city’s founding and growth, consider how the it became “hog-butcher to the world,” examine 20th century shifts in agricultural production as the “American Heartland” consolidated, and analyze contemporary industrialized agriculture in the Midwest, to ask how changes in the ways agricultural products like corn, wheat, hogs, and soy are produced continue to shape the city and its rural hinterland. This course introduces students to Chicago studies, the anthropology and history of rural America, and agrarian and urban studies.
GLST 26383 : Mapping Global Chicago Research Lab: Health and Well-being among the Tibetan Diaspora in Chicago - Callie Maidhof
CHST 26383 / PBPL 26383
Mapping Global Chicago is a collaborative, interdisciplinary undergraduate research initiative investigating the idea of the “global city.” This year, we will investigate the changing attitudes towards medical practice and care among members of the Tibetan diaspora community here in Chicago. We will consider how both long-term shifts and more recent events such as of the COVID-19 pandemic have affected Tibetan Chicagoans' approach to Western and traditional Tibetan medicine and the practice of religion as it relates to well-being. Students from across disciplines are encouraged to participate in this lab. The lab has been student-designed and will take shape according to diverse student interests and skill sets, including but not limited to ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, surveys, GIS, and data science. Working collaboratively, students will produce public scholarship to be featured on the Mapping Global Chicago website (https://mappingglobalchicago.rcc.uchicago.edu/).
HIST 18806 Introduction to Black Chicago, 1893-2010 - Adam Green
AMER 18806 / CHST 18806 / CRES 18806 / LLSO 28806
This course surveys the history of African Americans in Chicago, from before the twentieth century to the near present. In referring to that history, we treat a variety of themes, including migration and its impact, the origins and effects of class stratification, the relation of culture and cultural endeavor to collective consciousness, the rise of institutionalized religions, facts and fictions of political empowerment, and the correspondence of Black lives and living to indices of city wellness (services, schools, safety, general civic feeling). This is a history class that situates itself within a robust interdisciplinary conversation. Students can expect to engage works of autobiography and poetry, sociology, documentary photography, and political science as well as more straightforward historical analysis. By the end of the class, students should have grounding in Black Chicago's history and an appreciation of how this history outlines and anticipates Black life and racial politics in the modern United States.
KNOW 29943 Diasporic Narratives and Memories - Bozena Shallcross and Olga Solovieva
CHST 29943 / CMLT 29943 / MAPH 39943 / REES 29950
This course project takes the instability of Belarusian identity as an advantage for creating a new model of multi-ethnic, open emigrant community with a potential of cooperative democratic integration into a larger multi-ethnic landscape of Chicago. This project’s relevance goes beyond the Chicago community, offering a model of multi-ethnic integration for building a civil society in the Belarusian homeland. The course will involve theoretical readings in the studies of diaspora, training in oral histories gathering provided by the Chicago History Museum, and weekly field trips to the diasporic museums in Chicago. We will analyze these museums’ curatorial and narrative concepts in order to build upon their strengths and to avoid their weaknesses. This course is part of IFK's Experimental Capstone (XCAP) program for students interested in building upon their experience by adding practice, impact, and influence as important dimensions of their undergraduate work.
TAPS 20755 Making "I'll Take You There: The Life of Mavis Staples" at Court Theatre - Nora Titone (with Greg Kot)
CHST 20755 / HIST 20300 / MUSI 20755 / RLST 28755
Court Theatre has acquired the rights to Greg Kot’s 2014 biography of Chicago-born music legend Mavis Staples, "I'll Take You There: Mavis Staples, the Staple Singers, and the Music that Shaped the Civil Rights Era." Kot joins Court as consultant as the theater starts the work of adapting Mavis Staples’s life for the stage. He is the former music critic for the Chicago Tribune, editorial director of the multimedia music platform the Coda Collection, and co-host of Sound Opinions. This course invites students to take a lead role in Court’s creative development process for the Mavis Staples story. Using the methods of history, dramaturgy, biography and musicology, students will work with Kot and Court’s artistic team to map the story’s rich historical landscape, excavate the essential characters and identify the key events—social, political and musical—that a playwright might explore. Students will pursue individual research projects grounded in the epic journey of the Staples family and its powerful mobilizing role in the Civil Rights movement. Mavis Staples continues to blend gospel, blues, folk, rock and protest music in her work; her collaborators have included Bob Dylan, Prince, David Byrne, and Chuck D. Students will trace the Staples family’s story via multiple archives to build a portfolio of sound recordings, oral history interviews, photographs, newspapers, film and video recordings that will help the bring the production to life. Kot will be a regular guest in class.
ARTH 17410 : Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago and Beyond - Katherine Fischer Taylor
AMER 17410 / ARCH 17410 / CHST 17410 / FNDL 20502
This course looks at Wright’s work from multiple angles, examining his architecture and urbanism and his relationship to the built environment and socio-cultural context of his lifetime. We’ll take advantage of the celebrated Robie House on campus and of Wright’s other early work in greater Chicago; we’ll also think about his later “Usonian” houses for middle-income clients and the contextual framework he imagined for his work (“Broadacre City”), as well as his Wisconsin headquarters (Taliesin), and spectacular works like the Johnson Wax Factory, Fallingwater, and the Guggenheim Museum. By examining one architect’s work in context, students will gain experience analyzing buildings and their siting, and interpreting them in light of their complex ingredients and circumstances. In so doing, the course introduces students to thinking about architecture and urbanism in broad terms. To this end, the first half of the course is organized around a series of themes important to architecture in general (e.g., “expressing function”) and the second half examines the question of consistency and change in an individual architect’s career, including changes in design technique (e.g., ways of designing sequences of spaces and vistas) and the problem of legacy (e.g., what to do with old buildings, especially famous ones, that no longer work as originally intended).
ARTH 24192 Imagining Pittsburgh's Common Buildings - Luke Joyner
AMER 24192 / ARCH 24192 / ARTV 20031 / CHST 24192 / ENST 24192
This class is an architectural studio based in the common residential buildings of Pittsburgh and the city's built environment. (It has been offered for Chicago in other academic years and in Summer 2021, and will likely be again in the future.) While design projects and architectural skills will be the focus of the class, it will also incorporate readings, a small amount of writing, some social and geographical history, one or two required visits to Pittsburgh, and some additional explorations around Chicago. The studio will: (1) give students interested in pursuing architecture or the study of cities experience with a studio class and some skills related to architectural thinking, (2) acquaint students intimately with the common residential buildings and built fabric of a different place, while also comparing that place to our own, and (3) situate all this within a context of social thought about residential architecture, common buildings, housing, and the city.
ARTV 22320 The Integrated Garden: A Design Course - Amber Ginsburg
ARCH 22320 / ARTV 32320 / CHST 22320 / ENST 22320
Looking to the long and flourishing history of community gardens and greenscapes across Woodlawn, this design course looks to historical habits and imagined futures as we work together to design a garden within walking distance from Logan Center for the Arts. The design will include water harvesting, composting, insect interactions, land rituals, lived and archived knowledge of plants, sun patterns and human patterns of engagements across the site and outward into the community.
ENST 26008 Historic Preservation Studio - Emily Talen
ARCH 26008 / CHST 26008 / GEOG 36008
This course is an introduction to the preservation of the built environment. What are the benefits of preserving historic resources? Students will conduct studies of historic buildings in Chicago, exploring their cultural significance and impact on neighborhoods, and applying preservation tools and methods to formulate policies to advance preservation goals. We will also debate preservation’s role in addressing climate change and its role in advancing social goals, such as maintaining neighborhood diversity. Through readings, archival research, mapping, field visits, and interaction with professionals in the field, we will consider the possibilities of leveraging historic preservation to advance social, economic, and environmental goals..
PBPL 24751 : The Business of Non-Profits and The Evolving Social Sector - Christina Velazquez
Led by an experienced practitioner, this course aims to provide both an intellectual and experiential understanding of the contemporary nonprofit sector. In addition to a seminar component examining the rapidly evolving social sector, students engage in a hands-on consulting project for an area nonprofit involving analysis, reporting, and presentation. This course satisfies the Public Policy practicum WINDOWS requirement. Instructor consent required.
SSAD 28112 Community Organizing - Jane Ramsey
CHST 28112 / HMRT 34950
This is a course about community organizing and how organizing brings about collective action. Through analysis of both historical and contemporary community organizing efforts, students will learn how organizing mobilizes people to gain power and influence over public policy and decision-making that directly impact them. Students will be introduced to different conceptual models of organizing, as well as how these models employ different theories of social change. The course emphasizes the "nuts-and-bolts" of organizing, ranging from strategic vision formulation to campaign development to one-on-one engagement. Students will have the opportunity to learn, discuss, and employ these different organizing skills and techniques through in-class exercises and group projects.
TAPS 26302 : Bodies at Work: Art & Civic Responsibility - Devon DeMayo
CHST 26302 / CRES 26302 / GNSE 26303
Contemporary artists are quickly adapting their practices to be more inclusive, diverse, accessible and physically safe. In particular, the rise of intimacy design and anti-racist work in theatre, film and television has opened up a dialogue about how artists do their work responsibly. Through practice and investigation, this class will dive into the responsibility of artists in contemporary artistic processes. We will explore both how the tools and capacities of artists can transform civic practice and, conversely, how artists are grappling with the civic issues of body safety, anti-racism and accessibility in arts practice. We will explore how centering the body can create respectful engagement in the arts. We will look at the work of Enrich Chicago, Nicole Brewer, Sonya Renee Taylor, Not in Our House and Intimacy Directors & Coordinators among others.
ENST 27155 Urban Design with Nature - Sabina Shaikh and Emily Talen
BPRO 27155 / CHST 27155 / GEOG 27155 / PBPL 27156
This course will use the Chicago region as the setting to evaluate the social, environmental, and economic effects of alternative forms of human settlement. Students will examine the history, theory and practice of designing cities in sustainable ways – i.e., human settlements that are socially just, economically viable, and environmentally sound. Students will explore the literature on sustainable urban design from a variety of perspectives, and then focus on how sustainability theories play out in the Chicago region. How can Chicago’s neighborhoods be designed to promote environmental, social, and economic sustainability goals?
PARR 14300 Traversing Borders: The Rhetoric of Immigration - Ryan Solomon
CHST 14300 / GLST 24300
Borders are not simply things – i.e. physical boundaries; rather, they are symbolic constructions that manifest in multiple forms– from language, to dress, to appearance – with the aim of distinguishing insider from outsider, those who belong from those who do not. Both the physical and symbolic borders of citizenship are proliferating, with the result that border-crossings of various kinds are becoming more dangerous. This course will examine the rhetorical construction of borders in the US and other parts of the world, including Europe and South Africa, through analysis of official documents, speeches, and news accounts. The course will also consider the way that migrant rights groups, through their activism, challenge the border logic of citizenship and seek to orient an understanding of citizenship toward a global context. The major assignments for this course will include a rhetorical analysis of relevant public discourse (speeches, social media, examples of activism) related to immigration debates in the US or abroad, as well as a public online forum that will focus on immigrant rights issues.
PLSC 21011 Democracy, Race and Equal Protection - Kyla Bourne
In this course, students explore the relationship between democratic governance and the equal protection of the law from several disciplinary perspectives. The primary focus is on integrating dominant legal understandings of equal protection, on one hand, with influential theories of democratic legitimacy, on the other. As such, students encounter key case law, court opinions and commentary from leading legal scholars. They also engage with foundational texts in democratic theory, the sociology of law and organizations, and legal anthropology. Many of these readings will focus primarily on racially unequal protections under the criminal law, using significant examples drawn from Chicago. This is because criminal prosecution has been intimately tied to racial discrimination and white supremacist violence throughout the history of the United States. Now, debate is fierce around how police and prosecutors fail to protect the lives of Black people. This seminar invites students to join this debate using a variety of theoretical tools and methodological approaches.
Chicago Studies Quarters are immersive, multi-course experiences in which small cohorts of students engage with Chicago topics through interrelated classes. Quarter classes regularly utilize excursions, guest speakers, and engagement with stakeholder groups and leaders to enrich course readings and assignments. On Fridays, the cohort participates in trips to relevant sites in the city, including restaurants, cultural centers, ecological and historical sites, and advocacy institutions.
Spring 2022's Chicago Studies Quarter will focus on the Calumet (Southeast Chicago) Region, in partnership with the Environmental & Urban Studies program/Program on the Global Environment.