Student looks at Chicago's downtown while wearing a Chicago flag mask

Resources for Instructors

Chicago Studies offers curricular and co-curricular opportunities to discover, study, and engage with the diverse communities of our world-class city. Working with campus- and city-wide partners, we support the College community in encountering and learning with Chicagoans from all walks of life.

Chicago Studies supports faculty and course instructors in integrating Chicago content and experiences into all aspects of their teaching and mentorship.

We offer...

Two students explore the botanic garden in masks

Engaging Chicago during COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Chicago Studies is providing special equipment, funding, and support services for instructors who wish to integrate virtual, small-group, or socially-distant Chicago-based experiences into their classes, with the caveat that all experiential learning must be responsive to current public health priorities and University guidelines.

The links below provide detailed recommendations for virtual, hybrid, and socially-distant experiential learning "in" the city, as well as curated safety tips to share with students who choose to explore the city in response to course assignments.

Chicago-Focused Classes & Units

Chicago Studies aims to facilitate the development of reciprocal, respectful curricular collaborations between campus and city that empower students to deeper critical inquiry and more impactful responses to complex and systemic issues in Chicago and in cities around the world. 

We do so by assisting instructors in crafting courses across the curriculum with a clear focus on Chicago; by supporting the inclusion of Chicago-themed units within classes; by promoting a set of pedagogical preferences designed to promote collaboration and epistemic justice; by facilitating a wide range of in-person and virtual experiences across the city's diverse communities; and through the development of interdisciplinary Chicago-area immersions (the Chicago Studies Quarter and Chicago Studies Quarter: Calumet) that richly explore specific topics with a cohort of students each spring. 

Each term, Chicago Studies highlights classes as “Chicago-focused” to facilitate students’ academic engagement with the city.  These classes are eligible for additional pedagogical, logistic, and financial support for Chicago-based experiential learning from the College.  Not all of a course’s content need focus on Chicago in order to be designated; generally speaking, Chicago-related themes, examples, authors, or content should constitute 20% or more of the class’ material.  Instructors or departments who wish to designate a class as Chicago-focused should contact Chicago Studies’ Director Chris Skrable.

Chicago Studies-designated classes may include any of the following:

  • Historical, literary, artistic, social-scientific, or scientific exploration of Chicago;
  • Courses that integrate fieldwork, diversity learning, undergraduate research, or other forms of experiential learning in Chicago as constitutive elements of their pedagogy;
  • Courses that engage students in academic projects developed and executed in collaboration with one or more Chicago community partners;
  • Exploration of topics or methods in urban studies that consider or are applied to Chicago as a significant example.

Chicago Studies supports the design and execution of these courses, offering Chicago-specific content knowledge; pedagogical expertise; logistical/financial support for course research and experiential learning; and access to multiple networks of community and institutional partners throughout the city.

We encourage the following pedagogical preferences in all courses that seek to engage students in meaningful study of the city:

  • An emphasis on primary sources, first-person narratives, and/or experiential learning to expose students to Chicago’s communities, past and present;
  • Acknowledgement and respectful consideration of knowledges arising from the experiences of Chicagoans of all walks of life, including those traditionally marginalized or excluded from academic discourse;
  • The integration of high-impact teaching and learning strategies (see Kuh, et al., 2008) to reinforce critical thinking, reflective inquiry, and diversity awareness in engaging the city.

Chicago Studies offers a rubric to help instructors evaluate their course designs in relation to these values.

Chicago Studies can also provide support to instructors who wish to enrich any class with Chicago-related experiential learning or Chicago-based enrichment activities (e.g. excursions/field trips, guest speakers, and access to relevant cultural or historical sites).  The following table offers a range of models for Chicago engagement in College classes.

This table may be helpful for instructors who are trying to assess whether or not a proposed class could be designated as a “Chicago-focused” class. “Enrichment” classes would not normally meet the criteria for designation; “Partner” and “Focus” classes would almost always meet those criteria. “Feature” classes require individual consideration.

Instructors who wish to discuss a possible course design may schedule a one-on-one consultation with Chicago Studies.  Information about funding options is available on our grants and microgrants page.