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Site Visit Presents a Sampler of Classes and Activities on the Chicago Program

Published: April 7, 2015

Five faculty and staff will get a sampling of a week's worth of classes and activities during a whirlwind, three-day visit to the ACM Chicago Program: Arts, Entrepreneurship, & Urban Studies on April 8-10.

The faculty site visit, sponsored by the ACM, is designed to introduce the program's academic components, collaborative and interdisciplinary approach, and experiential learning pedagogy to the visitors as they go with the students on field trips, join discussions in the seminars and Core Course, and engage in workshops related to the students' internships and independent study projects (ISPs).

Chicago Program students at EleVarte

Chicago Program students recently helped spruce up the art room at EleVarte Community Studio as a service project. Read about it on the Chicago Program blog. Photo by Hadee Ahmadi.

"We've set up the site visit to really show the program to our visitors as much as possible, rather than to just tell them about it," said Program Director Robyne Hart. "They will get to take part in activities for each of the program's academic components, engage in discussions with the students and program faculty, and see examples of how we use the city and its resources as primary materials for learning."

The site visit participants include:

  • Carissa Schoffner, Lecturer in Business & Management, Knox College;
  • Julie Rothbardt, Assistant Professor of Political Economy & Commerce, Monmouth College;
  • Bruce King, Assistant to the President for Institutional Diversity, St. Olaf College;
  • Kent McWilliams, Professor of Music - Piano, St. Olaf College; and
  • Meghan Burke, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Illinois Wesleyan University.

Based on their interests, the visitors will take part in field trips by the three seminar classes, which focus on the Chicago Program's thematic areas.

  • The Arts & the Creative Process seminar, led by Adjunct Faculty member Susannah Papish, will visit the Chicago Cultural Center to see the Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist exhibit, as the students explore the role of jazz in Chicago and how it connects to other forms of art in the city.
  • Robyne Hart and her students in the Entrepreneurship & Innovation seminar will visit staff at the headquarters of Groupon to discuss the firm’s business model, successes, and challenges, particularly its strategy to address coupon fatigue and the evolving competitive marketplace.
  • Faculty member Dorothy Burge's seminar on Human Rights & Social Justice will meet with Kathleen Bankhead, Office of the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office at the South Side Community Prosecution Center to learn about the various ways restorative justice practices are being used effectively in the school system as an alternative to traditional forms of discipline.

To see the program's Core Course in action, the group will go with the students to the city's Southwest Side for a bus tour of the Little Village neighborhood, led by Kim Wasserman from the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO).

The tour will examine the organization’s work in building a sustainable community — socially, economically, and environmentally — and addressing challenges such as pollution from local industries, remediating contaminated sites and transforming them for new uses, and advocating for open space and parks in the neighborhood. In 2013, Wasserman received the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America.

Chicago Program students in Little Village

Chicago Program students last fall during the Little Village neighborhood tour led by Kim Wasserman (left) from LVEJO.

The program's two other academic components, an independent study project (ISP) and an internship with a business, arts group, or government office, or non-profit organization in the city, round out the curriculum. During the faculty site visit, the students will participate in workshops related to those activities.

"At the internship workshop, we'll have a panel of Chicago Program alumni who will talk about how their internship on the program helped shape their career goals, informed decisions they've made, and influenced their career path," said Internship Coordinator Victoria Beagle.

"I'll ask the alumni to share stories about the skill sets they began to develop during their internships on the program and how they've used those skills through the course of their careers," she said. "The alumni also give some career 'survival tips' and advice on networking, and then we open it up for questions from the students."

"The students each semester really enjoy this session with the alumni," Beagle added, "because they can see how the internship experience can pay off in a lot of ways over time."

Mary Scott-Boria and Jason Pallas, Adjunct Faculty members who mentor the students in their independent projects, will lead an ISP workshop focused on interviewing, which is one of the ways students conduct research for their topics. The workshop will feature a guest speaker from the oral history project StoryCorps.

Other activities during the site visit include having lunch with the Chicago Program faculty to learn more about the program and attending a performance and discussion of August Wilson's Two Trains Running at the Goodman Theatre, one of the works in the playwright's ten-play cycle exploring the experience of African Americans during the 20th century. A recent Chicago Program activity for all the students and faculty was seeing Two Trains Running and following it up with discussion and a tour of the Bronzeville neighborhood to draw comparisons with experiences related by characters in the play.

"I hope the faculty and staff who visit will leave with an understanding of how the program's parts fit together and build on each other," Hart said, "and that they'll have a strong sense of how to advise students who would be a good match with the Chicago Program."

The ACM Faculty Site Visits Program sponsors trips to consortial off-campus program sites in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. Each site visit is designed to give faculty firsthand knowledge of the location, local staff and experts, and curricular and co-curricular offerings of the program, to encourage faculty engagement with the program, and to expand the professional networks of faculty.


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