Researching Chicago


Since its inception in 2007, Chicago Studies has promoted undergraduate research about Chicago under the direction of the University's faculty and researchers. The first volume of the Chicago Studies Annual, a prestigious edited journal of undergraduate research about Chicago, came out in 2008 and continues to be published to this day.  We began offering an interdisciplinary Certificate in Chicago Studies (which recognizes long-term academic engagement with the city) in 2017, and our Undergraduate Research Prize in 2018.  In Winter 2023, we launched our inaugural research cohort, focused on the history of 55th Street, to help students build skills for historiographical and spatial investigations in the city.  In Winter 2024, we will launch a new cohort focusing on the history of 63rd St (applications will open in late Fall 2023).


Effective Fall 2023, Chicago Studies will begin providing micro-grants (usually capped at $1000) for in-person, independent (capstone/BA-level) research in the Chicago region.  More information and an application will be published HERE before the start of the Fall term.  Micro-grants may be used to provide small honoraria to acknowledge Chicago-based interviewees' time, transportation assistance, purchasing support (e.g. to provide food at community meetings or public presentations), and reimbursement for the costs incurred while doing fieldwork in the city.  These grants are intended to be supplemental, and secondary to any funding provided by students' home departments/programs.

In addition to advising, promotion, and funding, Chicago Studies also helps students prepare to present their work at the College's Undergraduate Research Symposium in Spring, and curates a collection of undergraduate research about the city on Knowledge@UChicago.  These general resources and those that follow are meant to inspire interest in studying the city, and are by no means exhaustive. For more specific information and one-on-one advising about a Chicago research project, schedule an appointment with Chris Skrable, Chicago Studies' Executive Director and Assistant Dean of the College.

Starting Points

Finding information can be overwhelming sometimes—there are so many places competing for your attention that it can be hard to figure out where the information you need lies. That's where these "starting points" come in.  While no substitute for talking through your project idea with an informed advisor, each of the following links opens many doors to investigation and can help inspire questions to consider with more targeted research.

Quick Links

Chicago Studies "Thesis Universe"

Explore our dynamic data visualization of every Chicago-focused BA submitted to Chicago Studies since 2018 on topics ranging from Arts, Language, & Culture to Housing and Homelessness to Sex, Gender, and Sexuality. Wondering what to major in to study your favorite topics, what to write your Bachelor's Thesis on, or who to reach out to for mentorship? This is the perfect place to start!

Our Chicago Studies Thesis Universe was designed to help student and faculty scholars access the staggering network of Chicago-focused academic work going on across the College. Between the nearly 100 theses and 50+ faculty members included, we're confident it can help you discover topics you're passionate about and mentors who share that passion. Coming soon: the universe of Chicago-focused classes!

2023 Chicago Studies Prize Winner

Isadora Kron (AB '23) was the recipient of 2023's Chicago Studies Undergraduate Research Prize for her CEGU and Public Policy BA, "A Tale of Two Rivers:  Zoning Policy Conflict and the Production of Public Space on the Chicago River."  Her project, which was informed by her many years of competitive rowing on the South Branch of the Chicago River, explores the dialectics of resource management and industrial development as differentially applied to the River's North and South Branches.  Read Isadora's prize-winning paper here!

Other Recent Prize-Winning Chicago BA's