Engage Chicago’s six components combine classroom learning and real-world experience, connecting you with the theories you need to understand social issues and the tools you need to address them.
A Strong Academic Foundation.
The eight-week class is at the core of the program. Through the lens of Chicago, you explore theories of social change and a range of urban issues, like housing and immigration. The class is taught by Liz McCabe, a faculty member from Chicago Field Studies at Northwestern. She is often joined by high-profile guests like NPR reporter Natalie Moore, U.S. Congressman Jesús “Chuy” García, and bestselling author Alex Kotlowitz.
From the Classroom to the Community.
Academic concepts are brought to life by real-world application, which is why the program offers students myriad opportunities to engage with new people, places, and issues across the city. A lecture about Chicago politics might be followed by a visit to the Mayor’s Office. A class on education might be paired with a trip to the Chicago Public Schools headquarters. Field experiences bring you out of the classroom and into the community, connecting the dots between theory and practice.
Work Experience That Matters.
We partner with over 100 nonprofit organizations, government institutions, and social enterprises to place you in a part-time internship related to your interests. As you contribute to their efforts, you learn valuable skills and develop a professional network that will serve you for years to come. You also gain insight into the ways individuals and institutions address complex challenges.
Explore a Professional Path.
The general curriculum focuses on Chicago history and social change, but each week also offers a variety of Spotlight Sessions – special events and small seminars focused on contemporary social topics and areas of career exploration across the city. Featured sessions, each led by an accomplished practitioner in the field, will include concentration topics like Health & Medicine, Law & Advocacy, Community Organizing, and Urban Planning, among others. Session formats will vary, including site visits, lectures, and panel discussions. Students can choose weekly sessions that relate to a shared theme, or sample a variety of topics throughout the summer.
Health & Medicine
Law & Advocacy
Bringing it All Together.
Engage Chicago exposes you to new and often conflicting ideas, perspectives, and questions. Through written reflection, interactive activities, and facilitated discussion, you learn to participate in critical conversations related to politics and social change while developing and strengthening your own beliefs. Periodic small-group discussions give you a chance to process these experiences alongside a group of thoughtful peers.
A Place to Call Home.
Engage Chicago participants come from every corner of the world, but for eight weeks they live together in the heart of downtown Chicago. Students get to know one another through planned events such as bonfires and bowling; the centralized location also allows for plenty of impromptu excursions to nearby neighborhoods. This unique residential component allows students to learn from one another as they share experiences inside and outside of class.
A Week in the Life
The six components come together to create a robust weekly schedule. Program requirements keep you busy during the weekdays, while residential activities and downtime allow you to explore all that Chicago has to offer on nights and weekends.