Concentrations

Pursue your passion.

The general curriculum focuses on Chicago history and social change, but through the concentration component, students further explore a specific topic or career path that piques their interest. Each concentration is led by a professional in the chosen field and includes a mix of site visits and discussions.

Concentrations are currently offered in Health & Medicine, Law & Advocacy, Community Organizing, and Direct Service. Each section provides students with the knowledge, experience, and understanding that will set them apart.

Applicants select their desired concentration when completing the general program application. Participants are able to pursue an internship that aligns with their concentration topic, although that is not required.

Health & Medicine

Students in Health & Medicine explore the realities of individual healthcare in the context of the US healthcare system. This balance between micro- and macro-level analysis gives students a unique perspective that they can bring to a range of health-related careers, from physician to researcher to policymaker. Students also discuss major issues in US healthcare and articulate potential solutions.

Topics discussed include:

  • Health Insurance
  • Patient Perspectives
  • Reproductive Health
  • Community-Based Healthcare

Previous site visits include:

  • Chicago Department of Public Health
  • Stroger Hospital of Cook County
  • Lawndale Christian Health Center
  • Planned Parenthood of Illinois

Instructor

Kathy Chan

Director of Policy for Cook County Health & Hospitals System

Law & Advocacy

Law & Advocacy provides an overview of the legal system, with a particular focus on criminal justice. Starting with the Chicago Police Department, students travel from one institution to the next to simulate the experience of an individual client moving through the system. They also meet with community organizations and advocates working to address pervasive inequalities.

The concentration touches on a number of other issues as they relate to the law, ranging from immigration to the environment.

Topics discussed include:

  • Chicago Police and the Rights of Individuals in Custody
  • Pro Bono Opportunities at Corporate Law Firms
  • Legal Services for Immigrants and Refugees

Previous site visits include:

  • Court observations at Bond Court and Immigration Court
  • Panel with Corporate Attorneys at Paul Hastings
  • Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center

Instructor

Susan Ritacca

Practicing attorney specializing in criminal defense and tenants’ rights

Community Organizing

Community Organizing students delve into Chicago’s rich history of organizing and explore its current political landscape. ​Paying special attention to the initiatives of young people of color, students in this concentration learn how community organizing is used to achieve social change on issues ranging from gun violence to education to economic justice.

Topics discussed include:

  • Community Organizing History
  • Environmental Justice
  • Youth-led Organizing

Previous site visits include:

  • Kenwood Oakland Community Organization
  • We Charge Genocide
  • Little Village Environmental Justice Organization

Instructor

Benji Hart

Chicago-based writer, educator, and artist

Nonprofit Management

Students in Nonprofit Management engage with several nonprofits and social service agencies as they explore careers in the nonprofit field. A range of organization types (small & grassroots to large & bureaucratic) and approaches (direct service, advocacy, social entrepreneurship) are explored. Topics covered will include funding strategies, board management, strategic planning, volunteer management, and other work involved in careers in the nonprofit field.

Topics discussed include:

  • Non-Profit Careers
  • Power and Privilege
  • Critical Reflection

Previous site visits include:

  • Sarah’s Circle
  • Northwestern Settlement
  • Literature for All of Us

Instructor

Micaela Moran

Nonprofit professional and AmeriCorps alumna

Urban Planning

Through field trips and interactive design activities across the city of Chicago, students in the new Urban Planning concentration will deepen their understanding of the processes involved in managing a complex urban environment, including transportation design, sustainable energy systems, green space management, economic development, and neighborhood gentrification.

Weekly visits with Chicago architects, planners, and policy analysts will give students the opportunity to explore careers and experiment with industry-standard technologies such as Geographic Information Systems (GIS), as well as work together to imagine innovative solutions to pressing urban challenges.

Instructors

Natalia Smirnov

Doctoral student in learning sciences focused on the intersection of education and the built environment

Derek Peebles

Civil engineer and urban planner with expertise in transit, construction & land use