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.
Section 01: Civil Rights in Chicago
Taught by: Curtis Lawrence (Communication)
Wednesdays 12:30-3:20 pm, 618, #207
Chicago has long been an epicenter for struggles and achievements in the area of civil rights, broadly defined as guarantees of equality protection under the law regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, national origin, age, and physical and mental ability. Almost sixty years ago, Chicago took center stage in the so-called Long Civil Rights Movement when Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. joined local activists in the Chicago Freedom Movement to fight housing discrimination and slum conditions, followed by Fred Hampton and the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party organizing block by block for progressive change in low-income neighborhoods. Today, Chicago—its people, its history, and its culture—are on the front lines of newly energized struggles for civil rights across an array of social justice concerns. Young people all over the region—including Columbia College Chicago students—are playing a role in these struggles, highlighted by movements, organizations, and activities such as Black Lives Matter, M4BL, Trans Lives Matter, me too, United We Dream, just to name a few. We will explore a variety of contemporary civil rights issues and engage with the people and institutions that have made our city an international focus for social change. We will use journalism, communication, and basic social science techniques to document, communicate, and share with each other the past and current state of civil rights in Chicago.
Section 02: Wild in Chicago
Taught by: Robin Whatley (Science and Mathematics)
Thursdays 12:30-3:20 pm, 608, #207
How do we notice and consider animals in the city? Where do they live and how do they exist and interact in urban environments? Pigeons, rats, dogs, cats.... and flying squirrels, river otters, little brown bats, peregrine falcons, snowy owls, spiny softshell turtles, leopard frogs, blue spotted salamanders, American eels, goldfish, armed snaggletooth snail, deertoe mussels, dark fishing spiders, monarch butterflies, rusty patched bumblebees...are just a small sampling of the non-human animals navigating life in Chicago environments. The parks, neighborhoods, air, soil, rivers, lake, and even skyscrapers, bridges, train tracks, and sidewalk cracks are homes to the city’s animals. We’ll explore animal habitats on walking tours and site visits, investigating how development and planning decisions, or lack of any consideration, has impacted the lives and well-being of diverse animal and plant communities over time. Students will create a field guide documenting how, when, and where to find wildlife, reflecting on the meaning, importance, and place of nature and animals in the city and our own urban lives.
Section 03: Against Fake News
Taught by: Jaafar Aksikas (Humanities, History and Social Sciences)
Mondays 12:30-3:20 pm, 600, #101
Fake news and ideological media are not new phenomena. What is new is rather the unprecedented intensification of the volume and pace with which fake news and misinformation are produced, distributed, and consumed at the current stage of late capitalism. The course brings an approach that is historical, analytical and critical all at once, to examine the contemporary media landscape in all its complexities and contradictions. Furthermore, it aims to provide you with a 'critical public sphere' where you can begin to discuss the role and impact of fake news, false information and ideological media industries, both historically and at present. You will also be encouraged to develop critical tactics and strategies to navigate the challenges presented by novel forms of misinformation, as facilitated by emerging technologies, while also realizing how these very technologies can, in turn, be used to create a more just and more democratic society. While the course takes a global approach to these issues, it will also engage several local Chicago-based case studies and news stories.
Section 04: Access, Civic Life & City Design
Taught by: Marcella David (Business and Entrepreneurship)
Tuesdays, Thursdays 10:30-11:50 am, 618, #207
"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.
Section 05: Let’s Play!
Taught by: Katie Paciga (Humanities, History and Social Sciences)
Mondays 9:00-11:50 am, 1104, #813
Section 06: Let’s Play
Taught by: Marni Nissen Olmstead (Humanities, History and Social Sciences)
Mondays 9:00-11:50 am, 618, #207
Approximately twenty percent of the more than 2.5 million people living in the city of Chicago are children under 18 and five percent of those are under the age of 5 (US Census Bureau, 2022). The many parks, museums, schools, beachfronts, forest preserves, libraries, and privately owned industries across each of the neighborhoods that comprise Chicago offer youth myriad opportunities to play, create, interact, and learn within and across their communities. Students will explore the play and creative spaces that have existed historically and that exist presently across the various neighborhoods, questioning the ways diverse, equitable, and inclusive opportunities for engagement in learning, through play and creative activity, have been available to young people living in and visiting The Windy City.
Section 07: City of the Big Solvers
Taught by: Sharon Bloyd-Peshkin (Communication)
Mondays 12:30-3:20 pm, 618, #207
In this course, you will learn about Chicago through the lens of the people, organizations and initiatives making positive changes for the city’s inhabitants, human and non-human. You’ll meet change-makers addressing everything from water pollution to homelessness to environmental racism. You’ll explore how they are responding to these problems, where they’ve been effective, and what they still struggle to achieve. And you’ll gather insights that can apply to other problems – in Chicago and beyond. This course will help you see Chicago through the eyes of those who envision the best for our city, and provide you with ways you can contribute to the greater good of the city that you–and the college–call home.