Contacts | Study Chicago Quarter | Courses on Chicago

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The Chicago Studies Program incorporates opportunities for students to engage academically and experientially with the city of Chicago. The program seeks to provide students with occasions to study Chicago in much the same way that they study other major cities of the world by participating in civilization studies study abroad programs. When students are abroad they enjoy a unique chance to combine—under the direction of Chicago faculty and local community members—classroom work, reading, writing, and experiential learning in world-class cities. With Chicago Studies, the College seeks to make possible the same kinds of intensive academic and experiential encounters with Chicago.

Chicago Studies publishes in book form the Chicago Studies Annual, a journal containing the best essays written by College students on the city of Chicago—its history, politics, and cultural life. A selection committee of College faculty considers submissions, which may be from any discipline. Essays then undergo a rigorous editing process.

Chicago Studies includes close collaboration between the College and the University Community Service Center (UCSC). Under the aegis of Chicago Studies, UCSC creates co-curricular experiences in conjunction with faculty in the College. Faculty may draw on the services and the expertise of UCSC to create experiences in the city that are relevant to a particular course using Chicago Course Connections. At the same time, independent of particular courses, UCSC facilitates student and faculty access to resources and events in the city and about the city.

UCSC also works with students to connect to organizations and institutions in the Chicago area. Students can connect with community organizations through individual volunteer referral, off-campus work-study positions, and volunteer and paid summer opportunities with community organizations and institutions. UCSC's Summer Links program matches up to 30 University of Chicago students in 10-week, paid internships with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and businesses in the city.

Chicago Studies also works closely with Career Advancement to identify Metcalf Internships that will give College students opportunities for substantive internships with organizations engaged in the life of the city.

Study Chicago Quarter

Each spring the College offers the Study Chicago Quarter (SCQ), a new curricular program open to 20 undergraduates through a competitive application process. Selected students engage in locally rooted courses, as well as cocurricular programming that will familiarize them with the folkways and civic codes that distinguish Chicago as an exemplary world city. In this sense, SCQ mirrors our 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. The program presumes that Chicago, like all major world cities, presents an unfamiliar and challenging environment for those not native to it—an environment that can nonetheless be negotiated through engaged inquiry and a conscientious approach to residence.

Students in SCQ have the opportunity to immerse themselves in Chicago through three courses taught by distinguished scholars. Like Study Abroad courses, these courses utilize excursions, guest speakers, and engagement with civic groups and leaders to enrich class readings and assignments. There are regular trips to key sites in the city, including historical sites, restaurants, cultural centers, churches, and advocacy institutions. Participants in the SCQ are required to take all three course offerings but may register for a fourth course of their choosing. Excursions are held regularly on Friday afternoonsSCQ is designed for undergraduates in good academic standing who are beyond their first year in the College. While the program stipulates no minimum grade-point average, an applicant’s transcript should demonstrate that the applicant is a serious student who will make the most of this opportunity. The SCQ is open to University of Chicago undergraduate students only; applications from outside the University are not accepted. For more information, please contact Daniel Koehler (

Courses on Chicago

In addition to Study Chicago Quarter, many other courses in the College offer opportunities to study aspects of Chicago's ecology, culture, politics, history, social structure, and economic life. The courses listed below are a sample of what is available.

ANTH 21201. Chicago Blues. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): M. Dietler     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): The course qualifies as a Discovering Anthropology selection for Anthropology majors.
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 21201

ARTH 17400. University of Chicago Campus. 100 Units.

An introduction to architecture and planning, this course examines the changes in thinking about the University campus from its origins in the 1890s to the present. Many of the University’s choices epitomize those shaping American architecture generally and some of our architects are of national significance. The course develops skill in analyzing architecture and urban form in order to interpret: how the University images itself in masonry, metal, and lawn; how it works with architects; the role of buildings in social and intellectual programs and values; the effects of campus plans and the siting of individual buildings; and the impact of technological change. Includes many sessions around campus and study of archival documents.

Instructor(s): K. Taylor     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Students must attend first class to confirm enrollment. For nonmajors, this course meets the general education requirement in the arts.

BPRO 21500. What Is Civic Knowledge? 100 Units.

What is civic knowledge? Although civic rights and duties are supposedly universal to all citizens in a “democratic” nation, their implementation often depends on the strength of community connections and the circulation of knowledge across racial, class, and social boundaries. Focusing on the city of Chicago, we ask how citizens (in their roles as citizens) forge communities, make urban plans, and participate in civic affairs. How does the city construct the public spheres of its residents? Are the social practices of Chicagoans truly “democratic?” Could they be? What does “Chicago” stand for, as a political and cultural symbol? For both Chicagoans and their representatives, the circulation of knowledge depends not only on conventional media but also on how the city is constructed and managed through digital media.

Instructor(s): R. Schultz, M. Browning.     Terms Offered: Not Offered 2016-2017
Prerequisite(s): Third- or fourth-year standing

CMST 21801. Chicago Film History. 100 Units.

Students in this course screen and discuss films to consider whether there is a Chicago style of filmmaking. We trace how the city informs documentary, educational, industrial, narrative feature, and avant-garde films. If there is a Chicago style of filmmaking, one must look at the landscape of the city; and the design, politics, cultures, and labor of its people, as well as how they live their lives. The protagonists and villains in these films are the politicians and community organizers, our locations are the neighborhoods, and the set designers are Mies van der Rohe and the Chicago Housing Authority.

Instructor(s): J. Hoffman     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): ARTV 26750,ARTV 36750,CMST 31801,HMRT 25104,HMRT 35104

ECON 26600. Economics of Urban Policies. 100 Units.

This course covers tools needed to analyze urban economics and address urban policy problems. Topics include a basic model of residential location and rents; income, amenities, and neighborhoods; homelessness and urban poverty; decisions on housing purchase versus rental (e.g., housing taxation, housing finance, landlord monitoring); models of commuting mode choice and congestion and transportation pricing and policy; urban growth; and Third World cities.

Instructor(s): G. Tolley, K. Ierulli     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20100 and STAT 23400
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 26600,GEOG 36600,LLSO 26202,PBPL 24500

ECON 28100. The Economics of Sports. 100 Units.

This is a course in microeconomics that applies traditional product and factor market theory and quantitative analysis to contemporary economic issues in professional and college athletics. Topics include the sports business; market structures and outcomes; the market for franchises; barriers to entry, rival leagues, and expansion; cooperative, competitive, and collusive behavior among participants; labor markets, productivity, and compensation of players; racial discrimination; public policies and antitrust legislation; and financing of stadiums.

Instructor(s): A. Sanderson     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): ECON 20100; ECON 21000 strongly recommended

ENGL 22800. Chicago. 100 Units.

In this course we will sample some of Chicago's wonders, exploring aspects of its history, literature, architecture, neighborhoods, and peoples. We begin with study of the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition and the early history of Chicago as a mecca for domestic and international immigrants. In subsequent weeks we will examine the structure of neighborhood communities, local debates about cultural diversity and group assimilation, and the ideology and artifacts of art movements centered in Chicago. This is an interdisciplinary course focusing not only on literary and historical texts, but also analyzing Chicago's architecture, visual artifacts and public art forms, local cultural styles, museum collections and curatorial practices. We will first explore Chicago sites textually, then virtually via the web, and finally in "real time”: Students will be required to visit various Chicago neighborhoods and cultural institutions.

Instructor(s): J. Knight     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): Cross listed courses are designed for advanced undergraduate and graduate students.
Equivalent Course(s): AMER 40800,ENGL 42800,MAPH 42800

ENGL 25952. Reading the Suburbs. 100 Units.

From midcentury writers like John Cheever, John Updike, and Richard Yates to the more contemporary work of Richard Ford, Tom Perrotta and the film, American Beauty, the suburbs have largely been thought of as a place of homogenous unhappiness. In this class, we will look at how this narrative has been constructed and contested over the last sixty years with help from authors Anne Petry, Chang Rae Lee, Vladimir Nabokov, and Alice Childress. Alongside fiction, we will look at history, advertising, and film contextualizing the rise of the suburbs, helping us understand the key role this space played in the accumulation of wealth, racial mobility, second wave feminism, and the rise of the modern Republican party.

Instructor(s): A. Brown     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENGL 25953. Transmedia Game. 100 Units.

This experimental course explores the emerging game genre of “transmedia” or “alternate reality” gaming. Transmedia games use the real world as their platform while incorporating text, video, audio, social media, websites, and other forms. We will approach new media theory through the history, aesthetics, and design of transmedia games. Course requirements include weekly blog entry responses to theoretical readings; an analytical midterm paper; and collaborative participation in a single narrative-based transmedia game project. No preexisting technical expertise is required but a background in any of the following areas will help: creative writing, literary or media theory, web design, visual art, computer programming, performance, and game design.

Instructor(s): P. Jagoda     Terms Offered: Autumn

ENST 27220. Environmental Management and Planning in the Calumet Region. 100 Units.

This course focuses on the identification and measurement of environmental outcomes in the Calumet Region of Chicago. Topics include the quantification of air quality impacts from industrial pollution and the potential for green infrastructure development to manage stormwater in the region and beyond. The course will introduce students to the environmental concerns and opportunities in the area and develop the methods and tools for measurement, management and planning for improved outcomes for residents and businesses. The course will draw on economic concepts and tools through applications of environmental management and policy. Enrollment in this course requires participation in the Calumet Quarter.

Instructor(s): S. Shaikh     Terms Offered: Spring. Not offered 2016-17
Prerequisite(s): Enrollment is based on acceptance into Calumet Quarter Program.

GEOG 23500. Urban Geography. 100 Units.

This course examines the spatial organization and current restructuring of modern cities in light of the economic, social, cultural, and political forces that shape them. It explores the systematic interactions between social process and physical system. We cover basic concepts of urbanism and urbanization, systems of cities urban growth, migration, centralization and decentralization, land-use dynamics, physical geography, urban morphology, and planning. Field trip in Chicago region required.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Winter
Note(s): This course offered in even years.
Equivalent Course(s): GEOG 33500

GEOG 26100. Roots of the Modern American City. 100 Units.

This course traces the economic, social, and physical development of the city in North America from pre-European times to the mid-twentieth century. We emphasize evolving regional urban systems, the changing spatial organization of people and land use in urban areas, and the developing distinctiveness of American urban landscapes. All-day Illinois field trip required.

Instructor(s): M. Conzen     Terms Offered: Autumn
Note(s): This course offered in odd years.
Equivalent Course(s): ENST 26100,GEOG 36100,HIST 28900,HIST 38900

HIST 27705. Introduction to Black Chicago, 1893 to 2010. 100 Units.

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.

Instructor(s): A. Green     Terms Offered: Spring
Equivalent Course(s): LLSO 22209,AMER 27705,AMER 37705,CRES 37705,HIST 37705,CRES 27705

PBPL 25405. Child Poverty and Chicago Schools. 100 Units.

This discussion- and debate-based course begins with a sociological and historical examination of child poverty, focusing on its origin, experience, and perpetuation in disadvantaged Chicago communities. Class meetings will involve debating school reform efforts, such as “turnaround” schools, charter schools, Promise Neighborhoods, and stepped up teacher evaluations. Further, the barriers that have contributed to the failure of previous reform initiatives—barriers that include social isolation, violence, and the educational system itself—will be identified and analyzed in-depth.

Instructor(s): C. Broughton     Terms Offered: Spring
Prerequisite(s): 2nd year standing required; attendance on the first day of class is required or registration will be dropped.
Equivalent Course(s): CRES 25405

PBPL 28501. Process and Policy in State and City Government. 100 Units.

This course consists of three interrelated sub-sections: (1) process and policy in city and state government; (2) the role played by influential, key officials in determining policy outcomes; and (3) policymaking during and after a political crisis. Issues covered include isolating the core principles driving policy at city and state levels; understanding how high level elected officials can shape the course of policy; and determining how a political crisis affects policy processes and outcomes. Most of the specific cases are drawn from Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Instructor(s): C. Harris     Terms Offered: Autumn,Winter,Spring

SOCI 20142. The Chicago School of Sociology. 100 Units.

This course introduces students to the classical work of the Chicago School and to the research stance that has characterized Chicago sociology from its beginnings. The course emphasizes reading original works rather than covering the history, although there is some study of the relevant historiography. Although the course focuses on the First Chicago School, it also considers the Second Chicago School period and other revivals. Texts to be studied could include The Polish Peasant in Europe and America, The Hobo, The Gold Coast and the Slum, The Gang, The Taxi-dance Hall, and Black Metropolis, as well as such general works as Introduction to the Science of Sociology and The City. From later periods we might consider works from such authors as Goffman, Becker, Strauss, Turner, Freidson, Janowitz, and Suttles.

Instructor(s): A. Abbott     Terms Offered: Winter
Equivalent Course(s): SOCI 30142

SOCI 20215. Urban Health. 100 Units.

This course examines health status, healthcare access, and healthcare service delivery in the urban environment. It draws on historic and contemporary research in urban sociology to frame these discussions and uses data from the City of Chicago to illustrate themes. Specific attention is given to race and ethnic differences in disease trajectories and neighborhood-level social and institutional resources. The course also explores both local and national policy implications.

Instructor(s): K. Cagney     Terms Offered: Spring

TAPS 24500. Chicago Theater: Budgets and Buildings. 100 Units.

This course examines the current state of Chicago theater, focusing on the relationships between facilities, budgets, and missions. Field trips required to venues including Side Project, Timeline, Raven, Steppenwolf, Theater Building, and Greenhouse.

Instructor(s): H. Coleman     Terms Offered: Spring
Note(s): Attendance at first class meeting is mandatory. This course is offered in alternate years.


Undergraduate Primary Contact

Senior Lecturer
Chad Broughton
Gates-Blake 218a

Administrative Contact

Assistant Dean of the College
Daniel Koehler
Harper Memorial Library 244