Creative Communities

Creative Communities builds on the foundational experience of First Semester Experience (Big Chicago). In this class students will draw on their interests and skills to investigate and understand global and local creative ecosystems that are built around communities of interest, communities of practice, and/or communities of purpose. Students will develop tools for responsive engagement with contemporary creative practices, materials, and concepts, as well as strategies and skills for working with interdisciplinary collaborators, in order to contribute to community and public good. Course content encourages integrative thinking and is specific to the expertise and experience of the faculty instructors and the department offering the course. 

Each course has specific learning outcomes associated with the investigation of some aspect of Columbia College Chicago's diverse, urban setting and an introduction to community engagement and issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Spring 2020 Creative Communities Courses

  • The Art of Drag (Section 01)

    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities
    Section 01 Title: The Art of Drag
    Taught by: Kelly Schmader, Business and Entrepreneurship

    In the Art of Drag, students will explore the artform of drag and gender performance as it pertains to community building, nightlife, and performance art. Students will analyze the role of drag in Columbia College Chicago, in Chicago itself, and in its current status as a global phenomenon. Texts include queer theory on drag as performance from scholars such as Judith Butler, ethnographies of drag such as Mother Camp by Esther Newton, and films such as Paris is Burning. Students will develop a contextual understanding of drag and its history in 20th century queer history and performance, as well as contemporary Chicago drag and the issues facing the artform today. The course will help establish student relationships with current working drag performers in Chicago, drag nights and venues, and help students identify areas where the community could be uplifted and supported. Students will be able to choose among options for a final group project which include creating a unique drag performance, researching the history of a particular project or point in time in Chicago drag, or developing a new way for drag to interact with the Columbia College Chicago community.

  • Unsettling Chicago (Section 02)

    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities
    Section 02 Title: Unsettling Chicago
    Taught by: C. Rich King, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences

    Unsettling Chicago concerns itself with the place of imagined Indians in Chicago and the distinct representational practices and cultural politics that have made such renderings pleasurable, profitable, and powerful. Place names and origins stories, museum installations and world’s fairs, collective memory and commercial brands, as well as sports mascots and public art will be examined. Readings and discussion seek not simply to catalog a set of stereotypes but encourage a deeper understanding of the construction and circulation of such representations and a fuller appreciation of the cultural, historical, and political forces shaping the uses and understandings of Indianness. Throughout, attention will be directed at the shifting contours of race, power, and identity as well as the persistence and fecundity of core ideas about indigenous peoples.

  • Unsung Heroines (Section 03)
    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities
    Section 03 Title: Unsung Heroines
    Taught by: Gabriela Diaz de Sabates, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences

    In this course students will learn about the wide range of women’s life stories in the Chicago metropolitan area and beyond, establishing connections between the local and the global. Women’s life stories are of importance because they invent, reform, and refashion personal and collective identity. By taking this course, students will learn about the narrative nature of life experiences by exploring the process of knowing about, listening, and telling of life stories. This class uses an intersectional approach, which takes into consideration markers of identity such as gender, sexual identity, class, race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, etc. Throughout the class, students will be exposed to communities of interest, practice and/or purpose that Chicago women inhabit, create, and participate in, while exploring the relationships among their stories embedded within creative ecosystems, discussing issues of advocacy and the advancement for gender equity and social change. It is important to note that, in this class, the term “woman" is not understood as a concept based on essentialist and narrow notions rooted in biology, but rather as one that is inclusive of all persons who identify as women, in the broadest sense.
  • Fashion Ethics and Aesthetics (Section 04)
    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities
    Section 04 Title: Fashion Ethics and Aesthetics
    Taught by: Lauren Downing Peters, Fashion Studies

    This interdisciplinary course engages the city of Chicago as a site for investigating the ethics and aesthetics of contemporary fashion. Building on the foundational experience of the first semester Big Chicago courses (and specifically, "Chicago Fashion Tribes"), this course frames fashion as one of the most polluting and exploitative global industries as well as a creative medium through which designers can challenge inequality and further environmental and social justice initiatives. In thinking broadly about the ethics of fashion, this course takes a deep dive into tough topics such as environmental sustainability, fast fashion, sweatshop labor and style piracy, and will introduce students to local groups who are using the medium of fashion to effect meaningful change in Chicago and beyond. Through site visits, participant observation, craft-based workshops and community partnerships, students will be challenged to develop an understanding of the place they occupy in the fashion system, to devise actionable solutions to the myriad problems plaguing the industry, and to hone their creative and critical voices as future leaders in the fashion industry.
  • Performance Theory and Practice (Section 05 and Section 09)
    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities
    Section 05 and 09 Title: Performance Theory and Practice
    Taught by Darrell Jones and Ellen Chenoweth, Dance

    Performance Theory and Practice explores the performance of self, performance in the everyday, performance as ritual, as well as performance on the stage and screen. Through engagement with culturally diverse performances, community partners, and critical analysis of introductory text in dance, theatre, and performance studies, students will draw on their specific skills and interests to articulate course concepts in writing and in collaborative interdisciplinary performance projects and installations.  This course will help students establish relationships with performance venues throughout the Chicago metropolitan area. As collaboration is a key component of this course, one hour of each class session will be devoted to the development of skills necessary to create a final performance in small groups.
  • Listening to the City (Section 06 and 07)
    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities

    Section 06 Title: Listening to the City
    Taught by Florian Hollerweger, Audio Arts and Acoustics

    Section 07 Title: Listening to the City
    Taught by: Visda Goudarzi, Audio Arts and Acoustics


    This course explores communities connected through sound. Such communities form through networks both local and virtual, coalescing around shared interests in particular genres and venues, roles and expertise, economies and missions. Through reading, deep listening, discussion, and construction of sonic artifacts, students will engage with foundational theories of auditory culture while they encounter the city through sound.
  • Social Objects (Section 08)
    CCCX 299 Topics in Creative Communities
    Section 08 Title: Social Objects
    Taught by: Andrew Causey, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences

    This course encourages students to explore some of the diverse ways that human groups create and use material objects, including but not limited to: decorative art, clothing, gifts, utilitarian items, religious icons, modes of transportation, digital "things," and communication devices. Students will engage with current theories of the material world; examine case studies about the manufacture, trade, and use of objects from around the world; investigate how objects mediate relationships among individuals and community groups; and create their own "social objects."

CCCX 200: Learning Outcomes

Although individual courses have course-specific learning outcomes associated with understanding Columbia College Chicago’s urban setting, all of the courses share the same expectations for the student learning experience. In the Creative Communities course, students will: