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Areas of Focus

The ACM Chicago Program has three primary areas of focus: arts, entrepreneurship, and social justice. You can choose to explore one of these topics in-depth, or participate in classwork and projects across these disciplines.


There’s just something inspiring about Chicago.

It’s the home of world-renowned arts organizations like the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Steppenwolf Theatre, the Art Institute of Chicago, and it’s the birthplace of gospel music, improv acting, and slam poetry. It may just be the best urban environment in America for young artists to discover themselves, their careers, and their artistic voices.

Whatever your interests in a broad range of the arts—music, theater, dance, film, fine arts, and creative writing—the Chicago Program will show you how creativity can be expressed within a major urban area. You'll attend arts-related events, interact and develop contacts with a wide variety of Chicago-based artists, and learn to recognize and express creativity in everyday life.

“The Chicago Program gave me the opportunity to truly explore artistry through the Chicago lenses without restriction. I got the opportunity to write a novel, a goal I had been hoping to achieve for a long time, and to make it part of my coursework. I'm glad that the program gave us freedom to deeply explore.”

Michael Bonner, Colorado College, creative writing major


Building a successful business from the ground up epitomizes Chicago.

This is the place to experience entrepreneurship and innovation in action. Chicago is home to historic figures like Montgomery Ward, who built the first catalog business. It’s also home to internet-based companies like Groupon and Sittercity, both of which started small and grew to be the largest websites of their kind in the world. With everything from Fortune 500 companies to a burgeoning tech center, Chicago offers students a valuable opportunity to see how companies can grow and compete in the global marketplace.

The Chicago Program shows you how the central themes of entrepreneurship—creativity, innovation, and problem solving—are the fundamental tools of successful businesses and organizations of all types. You will interact with a wide variety of businesses and organizations, develop contacts with Chicago-based business leaders and entrepreneurs, and learn to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities in everyday life.

Social Justice

The people of Chicago have always been actively engaged in the important social issues of the day. 

It’s also a city of tremendous diversity, with cultures and ethnicities from around the globe, and neighborhoods that have evolved their own distinct personalities, viewpoints, and values.

This makes Chicago the perfect laboratory for creative social change—through participation in public discourse, active involvement in civic issues, engagement with current social justice priorities, and by working shoulder-to-shoulder with those who make a difference in the lives of everyday people.

On the Chicago Program, you will actively engage in the life of a distinctive neighborhood in the city. You’ll live as a citizen, meeting with local residents and organizations to learn how their efforts impact the local and larger communities in which they live. Develop your skills in the language and actions of social change, and see how communities and groups shape public policy and negotiate for power and resources.