First Semester Experience: Big Chicago

Fall 2020 "Big Chicago" Courses

  • Big Chicago: Honors (CCCX 199H)

    Led by top scholars and practitioners in their fields, these first semester courses connect students to the city of Chicago and encourage reflection on those experiences with a cohort of student peers. Students investigate aspects of Columbia College Chicago's diverse urban and cultural setting. Courses introduce students to different learning environments, issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and deeper ways of engaging the urban contexts and communities of Chicago.

    CCCX 199H Big Chicago: Honors
    Section 1: Access, Civic Life & City Design

    "Access" has many connotations. It can mean the actual physical means of entering a location, the permission given to people seeking to enter a location, start a career, or communicate with a person, or the ability someone may have to make use of a resource. Each of these instances of "access" is linked to a design or plan: an architect's choice between a ramp or stairs, the decision to limit enrollment of a new school building to children living within 20 blocks and not 25 blocks, the decision to locate a free clinic far away from public transportation. We will investigate how Chicago's design choices influence how people experience and use the city.  On walking tours and site visits throughout the city, students will examine and critically evaluate the current condition of Chicago's urban spaces and investigate how different people may be welcomed or discouraged from fully participating in Chicago's civic life. As part of our analysis we will explore how markers of difference, including physical ability, race, socio-economic status and gender, may be influential elements of design that expand or restrict access. Taught by Marcella David, Business and Entrepreneurship.

    CCCX 199H Big Chicago: Honors
    Section 2: Music and Media in Chicago

    Music and Media in Chicago will provide an overview of the past, present, and future of the many genres of music thriving in Chicago. It will examine how this city put its stamp on the development of these sounds as they spread around the world, as well as introducing the tools of the historian, sociologist, musicologist, and cultural critic via lectures, video, film, online and dead-tree readings, and vibrant discussions. The class also will review the past, present, and future of Chicago media-newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the blogosphere-examining the city's journalism culture and infrastructure, and, as with music, providing an understanding for an informed and critical reading of these texts so that the student can become an active and involved citizen participating to the fullest extent in everything this extraordinary metropolis has to offer. Taught by Jim DeRogatis, English and Creative Writing.

  • 50 Years of Civil Rights in Chicago (CCCX 114)

    Over half a century ago, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. brought the civil rights movement from Selma to Chicago, and shocked a nation that thought racial oppression was just a Southern thing. Today, more than 50 years later, young American men and women hardly out of their teens—including Columbia students—are playing a role in the critical issues summarized by Black Lives Matter. The City of Chicago—its people, its history, and its culture—are on the front lines of a newly energized struggle for civil rights. And it is true today, as it was 50 years ago, that the whole world is watching. Students in this course will engage with the people and institutions that have made our city an international focus for social change. They will use public relations techniques to document and communicate the past and current state of civil rights in Chicago. And looking toward graduation, they will prepare for their careers a whole lot smarter, ready for intelligent, emotional engagement with the realities of diversity in America today. Taught by: Alton Miller, Communication.

  • Big Chicago: Epicenter of Pop Culture (CCCX 131)

    From the invention of pinball machines and video games; the invention of gospel music and the electrification of the blues—and serving as ground zero for the Black Arts Movement—Chicago has always played a pivotal role in the evolution of 20th Century popular culture. Columbia College Chicago has long been at the crossroads of this cultural wellspring. This course is an interdisciplinary study of the city’s contributions to the pantheon of pop. From the first Ferris Wheel to Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, "Epicenter of Popular Culture" will challenge students to explore and understand the city’s contributions to modern culture and ask them to consider the question, “Why does pop culture matter?” Students across all areas of study will benefit from gleaning a deep-rooted understanding and appreciation of Chicago as a mecca for American and global popular culture. Along the way, students will begin to ponder their own contributions to the tradition, challenging them to truly understand the concept of “authoring the culture of our times.” Taught by Sam Weller, English and Creative Writing. 

  • Chicago: City of Stories (CCCX 124)

    The spirit of a place is most aptly captured by its artists. Writers in particular have long been fascinated with the city of Chicago. The literary tradition in Chicago is rich and varied. From the politically conscious poems of Gwendolyn Brooks, to the fantastic imaginings of L. Frank Baum and Ray Bradbury, to the blue collar portraits and tales of Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren and beyond. Chicago's contribution to the pantheon of storytelling goes without question. The city is at the forefront of the modern graphic novel renaissance, and was the birthplace of the poetry slam. In this lecture hall class, students will survey the history of Chicago literature and storytelling from the Great Fire of 1871 to the present. The course will examine the literary history of the "City of Big Shoulders" and learn to understand the profound impact the city will have on their own sense of story and development as artists. The course will not only place the city in literary context, but will help students discover the many voices at the center of this complex, vigorous, beautifully paradoxical city. In doing so, students will begin to discover the most important voice of all-their own. Taught by Patty McNair, English and Creative Writing.

  • Chicago Fashion Tribes (CCCX 127)

    Women’s Wear Daily once described dress code unifiers as fashion tribes; calling out those that “flaunt their sartorial signage” to show who they run with. Fashion in Chicago is shaped by mainstream brands and local style tribes. A hundred years before there were brand name stores in every town, or shopping online, Chicago was the capital of the mail-order catalog industry, providing and distributing ready to wear clothing and accessories for the masses. Nowadays with a diverse population of close to three million people, it is possible to see high fashion and street style in the same neighborhood. Add to the mix the diversity of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religions, political beliefs and ideologies, then Chicago represents a fascinating fashion fusion; a global experience without leaving the city. Students will observe and participate in the function of fashion as a form of belonging. With a focus on observing and documenting fashion tribes, and identifying their own, students’ will learn how fashion can define, incorporate and galvanize by expanding their understanding of what makes Chicago styles unique. Taught by Virginia Heaven, Fashion. 

  • Chicago Film History (CCCX 117)

    Chicago Film History is a screening, lecture, and discussion course with a two-fold purpose. It explores Chicago's formative role in the creation of the Hollywood system and analyzes how Chicago has been represented in American narrative and documentary features. In particular, it's divided into four units. Unit I uses Flickering Empire: How Chicago Invented the U.S Film Industry to review how Chicago functioned as the center of American film production pre-Hollywood. Unit II explores images of Chicago in genres such as gangster films, film noir, and romantic comedies. Unit III covers Chicago documentaries. Lastly, Unit IV contains in-class presentations where students synthesize their own analyses and research in front of their peers. Taught by Jeff Spitz, Cinema and Television Arts.

  • Chicago Latinx! Community, Culture, and Citizenship (CCCX 130)

    Chicago is a multi-ethnic city, and the Latino community is one of the most vibrant and active today. But what's in a name? What's in a place? What are the connections between an urban space like Chicago and the communities that call themselves Latina/o, Hispanic, Mexican-American, Puerto Rican, Salvadoran? Some of them are recent immigrants and need to navigate a culture and a language unfamiliar to them; some of them were born here and need to straddle more than one culture and language; some are scarcely aware of their cultural and linguistic origins. And then there is the rest of the population who constantly interacts with these communities. This course delves into the issues of Latin@/Latinx ethnicity and culture in the urban space of Chicago—through language and literature, music and food—as we discuss questions of migration, cultural citizenship, and identity. Taught by Carmelo Esterrich, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences.

  • Chicago: The Global Metropolis (CCCX 110)

    The course will introduce students to Chicago's economic, ethnic, racial, cultural, and political development. Students develop knowledge concerning the impact of technological change on Chicago and the economic and demographic forces that have helped shape the city's history. In addition, the class will help Columbia freshman to gain access to the various cultural institutions and neighborhoods of the city. Taught by Erin McCarthy, Humanities, History, and Social Sciences. 

  • Chicago: The Third Coast (CCCX 129)

    The blue horizontal lines that frame the iconic red stars on the Chicago flag represent Lake Michigan and the Great Canal, waterways that link the City across time and space to the development of modern America. In this course students will learn about the human and natural history of the Chicago Portage and the Continental Divide, and about the rich history of technological innovation that created the complex network of canals, railroads, highways, and air corridors that make the city an unrivaled transportation hub. While this network contributed directly to Chicago becoming an industrial, retail, and financial powerhouse and was a beacon to adventurers, entrepreneurs, and artists, it had negative effects on the environment. Students will explore this history through class lectures, discussion, song, and field trips to a variety of City locations and will use a journal as a site of artistic and academic observation and reflection to document some of the scientific, environmental, technological, artistic, and historic features of this great crossroads metropolis. Taught by: Dave Dolak, Science and Mathematics.

  • Did You Just Flip Me Off?? Deaf People and Linguistic Diversity in Chicago (CCCX 121)

    This course introduces the cultural, educational, artistic, and linguistic aspects of the vibrant Deaf community in Chicago and around the world. Students in this course will explore, analyze, and come to understand the historical roots of the Deaf cultural and educational experience both locally and globally. Additionally, this course will survey the topics of local and global Deaf artistic expression, signed languages and their structures, the role of interpreters and assistive technologies, and will introduce laws that impact accessibility for all. Taught by Diana Gorman Jamrozik, American Sign Language.

  • Music and Media in Chicago (CCCX 112)
    Music and Media in Chicago will provide an overview of the past, present, and future of the many genres of music thriving in Chicago. It will examine how this city put its stamp on the development of these sounds as they spread around the world, as well as introducing the tools of the historian, sociologist, musicologist, and cultural critic via lectures, video, film, online and dead-tree readings, and vibrant discussions. The class also will review the past, present, and future of Chicago media-newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and the blogosphere-examining the city's journalism culture and infrastructure, and, as with music, providing an understanding for an informed and critical reading of these texts so that the student can become an active and involved citizen participating to the fullest extent in everything this extraordinary metropolis has to offer. Taught by Jim DeRogatis, English and Creative Writing.

CCCX 100: 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 first-year experience course, students will: