College Course Clusters
The College is launching a new, innovative curricular initiative. The Course Cluster Initiative is designed to continue the thematic focus and multidisciplinary perspective of the Core Curriculum; to expose students to ideas from the vantage point of different disciplines across the humanities, social, physical, and biological sciences; to stimulate and cultivate the student’s intellectual curiosity and sense of academic adventure; to help students structure their electives without imposing programmatic strictures and limiting the freedom of intellectual exploration.
Course Clusters consist of three or more courses on a common topic or issue that are offered over a span of two to three years. Course Clusters can be made up of existing courses or encourage the creation of new courses. Courses within a cluster can have different formats. They can be smaller seminars or larger lecture courses. The only pre-requisite is that they have no pre-requisites and are not designed primarily for minors/majors (even though they can count towards major requirements).
Course Cluster: Climate Change, Culture, and Society
The planetary scale of anthropogenic climate change challenges us to reassess many central questions in the humanities and social sciences from justice and power to truth and art. This new course cluster encourages students to explore the problem of climate change from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Classes in History, Political Science, Classics, English, Philosophy, and other disciplines from the Social Sciences and the Humanities complement courses in the Physical and Biological Sciences. In addition to learning about the science of climate change in the latter the former will ask a host of questions: What were the historical roots of fossil fuel use? What can the human past teach us about our ability to cope with climate change? How will we ensure justice and human rights in the face of a threat that affects poor people and future generations disproportionately? In what ways might literature and art help understand and communicate climate change, and shape our sense of agency and hope in facing an uncertain future?
GEOS 23900: Environmental Chemistry, David Archer
The focus of this course is the fundamental science underlying issues of local and regional scale pollution. In particular, the lifetimes of important pollutants in the air, water, and soils are examined by considering the roles played by photochemistry, surface chemistry, biological processes, and dispersal into the surrounding environment. Specific topics include urban air quality, water quality, long-lived organic toxins, heavy metals, and indoor air pollution. Control measures are also considered.
PHSC 13400: Global Warming, David Archer and Douglas MacAyeal*
This course presents the science behind the forecast of global warming to enable the student to evaluate the likelihood and potential severity of anthropogenic climate change in the coming centuries. It includes an overview of the physics of the greenhouse effect, including comparisons with Venus and Mars; an overview of the carbon cycle in its role as a global thermostat; predictions and reliability of climate model forecasts of the greenhouse world.
GEOS 23205: Introductory Glaciology, Douglas MacAyeal
The fundamentals of glacier and ice-sheet dynamics and phenomenology will be covered in this introductory course (snow and sea ice will be excluded from this course, however may be taken up in the future). Emphasis will be placed on developing the foundation of continuum mechanics and viscous fluid flow as a means of developing the basic equations of glacier deformation, ice-sheet and -shelf flow, basal processes, glacier hydrology, and unstable modes of flow. This course is intended for advanced undergraduate students in physics, math, geophysical sciences, and related fields as well as graduate students considering research in glaciology and climate dynamics.
HIST 17504: Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization III: The Environment, Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
This course will chart the development of modern science and technology with special reference to the environment and energy. Major themes include empire and environmental change, romanticism and conservation, science in the industrial revolution, energy in science and industry, the debates about the limits to growth, the rise of ecology, the Cold War development of climate science, and the emergence of modern environmentalism. We end with the science of the Anthropocene.
GEOS 23400: Global Warming for Science Majors, David Archer and Douglas MacAyeal*
This course presents the science behind the forecast of global warming to enable the student to evaluate the likelihood and potential severity of anthropogenic climate change in the coming centuries. It includes an overview of the physics of the greenhouse effect, including comparisons with Venus and Mars; an overview of the carbon cycle in its role as a global thermostat; predictions and reliability of climate model forecasts of the greenhouse world. Lectures are shared with PHSC 13400, but students enrolled in GEOS 23400 are required to write an individual research term paper and do some elementary climate modeling exercises in Python (no previous coding experience required).
GEOS 24705: Energy: Science, Technology, and Human Usage, Elisabeth Moyer
This course covers the technologies by which humans appropriate energy for industrial and societal use, from steam turbines to internal combustion engines to photovoltaics. We also discuss the physics and economics of the resulting human energy system: fuel sources and relationship to energy flows in the Earth system; and modeling and simulation of energy production and use. Our goal is to provide a technical foundation for students interested in careers in the energy industry or in energy policy. Field trips required to major energy converters (e.g., coal-fired and nuclear power plants, oil refinery, biogas digester) and users (e.g., steel, fertilizer production).
*Students may opt to use PHSC 13400 or GEOS 23400 toward the Cluster, but not both.
Course Cluster: History of the Law
The development of law and legal systems is one of the defining hallmarks of societies from antiquity to the present. Abundant written evidence survives from the societies of the ancient Mediterranean, the Near East, South Asia, and East Asia. This cluster of courses will include deep dives into individual legal systems known from ancient societies in Greece, Rome, Babylonia, Assyria, Israel, Egypt, China, and India, as well as comparative investigations informed by historical and anthropological literatures.
NEHC 20019: Mesopotamian Law, Martha Roth
Ancient Mesopotamia -- the home of the Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians who wrote in cuneiform script on durable clay tablets -- was the locus of many of history’s “firsts.” No development, however, may be as important as the formations of legal systems and legal principles revealed in contracts, trial records, and law collections (“codes”), among which “The Laws of Hammurabi” (r. 1792-1750 BC) stands as most important for understanding subsequent legal practice and thought of Mesopotamia’s cultural heirs in the Middle East and Europe until today. This course will explore the rich source materials of the Laws and relevant judicial and administration documents (all in English translations) to investigate topics of legal, social, and economic practice including family formation and dissolution, crime and punishment (sympathetic or talionic “eye for an eye,” pecuniary, corporal), and procedure (contracts, trials, ordeals). [NEHC 30019, LLSO 20019]
CLCV 25808: Roman Law, Clifford Ando
The course will treat several problems arising in the historical development of Roman law: the history of procedure; the rise and accommodation of multiple sources of law, including the emperor; the dispersal of the Roman community from the environs of Rome to the wider Mediterranean world; and developments in the law of persons. We will discuss problems like the relationship between religion and law from the archaic city to the Christian empire, and between the law of Rome and the legal systems of its subject communities. [CLAS 35808]
Course Cluster: Economic History, from Sumer to the Global World
The Course Cluster "Economic History: from Sumer to the Global World" will propose every year up to three classes in economic history. We wish to cover a broad time span and a wide range of cultures. The classes will put a special emphasis on the methodology of economic history. The students will thus also be able to acquire a deep knowledge of the questions that are currently debated in this field.
CLCV 20517: The First Great Transformation: The Economies of the Ancient World, Alain Bresson
This class examines the determinants of economic growth in the ancient world. It covers various cultural areas (especially Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome and China) from ca. 3000 BCE to c. 500 CE. By contrast with the modern world, ancient cultures have long been supposed to be doomed to stagnation and routine. The goal of this class is to revisit the old paradigm with a fresh methodology, which combines a rigorous economic approach and a special attention to specific cultural achievements. We will assess the factors that indeed weighed against positive growth, but we will also discover that far from being immobile the cultures of the ancient world constantly invented new forms of social and economic organization. This was indeed a world where periods of positive growth were followed by periods of brutal decline. But if envisaged on the longue durée, this was a period of decisive achievements, which provided the basis for the future accomplishments of the Early Modern and Modern world.
HIST 29668: Economic Growth in Theory and Practice, Fredrik Albritton Jonsson
The idea of economic growth is one of the foundational concepts of modern politics and society. This course will examine the intellectual roots of growth theory from early modern alchemy to Silicon Valley, with a special emphasis on the material and social context of economic thought.
Course Cluster: Inequality
The problem of inequality has been an abiding concern in the social sciences and humanities. In recent years it has attracted heightened attention and inspired scholarly innovation, fostering real ferment among those seeking to understand the mainsprings of the modern world. To understand such an abiding aspect of social and cultural organization requires a broad set of analytical resources and intellectual perspectives. Drawing on a range of methodologies, students will trace and examine the sources and challenges of inequality and mobility in many of its dimensions, selecting from courses in Economics, History, Political Science, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Public Policy, and other disciplines across the divisions. The broad, considered lens offered by this approach will allow students in the cluster to understand more fully the dynamics and consequences of inequality in modern culture and society and its roots in persistent patters of distribution of wealth, income, education, and social and other kinds of capital.
GNSE 11006: Problems in the Study of Gender and Sexuality: Inequality, Fochona Majumdar
This course analyzes inequality and the overt and covert violence that results from it. The inequalities under consideration are often grounded in gender and sex but also, and more importantly, ones that result from a complex intersection of gender, sex, and other identities. Inequality is what produces the experience of differential citizenship, a topic that exercises scholars the world over. In particular, those interested in issues of feminism, community, and ethnicity have studied why women (and then some women more than others) or particular social groups such as gay or trans groups, experience disenfranchisement more than their counterparts. This is so even when, officially, many cultures/ nation states grant their members/citizens formal equality before the law. While many of the specific examples around which this course is framed emerge out of South Asia, our analyses will be structured through an engagement with critical theoretical texts that address issues of gendered oppression and discrimination in other parts of the world. Readings will include historical, anthropological, literary texts. Key themes of the course include: debates on parite in France and differential citizenship for religious minorities in India; caste based violence in India studied comparatively with debates on violence against aboriginal in Australia and Canada; rape and human rights; the politics of homosexuality.
HIST 28802: US Labor History, Amy Stanley
This course will explore the history of labor and laboring people in the United States. The significance of work will be considered from the vantage points of political economy, culture, and law. Key topics will include working-class life, industrialization and corporate capitalism, slavery and emancipation, the role of the state and trade unions, and race and sex difference in the workplace.
PLSC 21802: Global Justice and the Politics of Empire, Adom Getachew and James Wilson
Over the last four decades, political theorists and philosophers have transcended the nation-state form and taken their concerns about redistribution, democracy, and rights global. Though often not explicitly acknowledged, this global turn emerged just at the tail end of decolonization when political and economic crises from large-scale famines to authoritarianism and ethnic violence rocked the newly emerging post-colonial world. This course will examine how contemporary debates around global justice broadly construed interact and intersect with the legacies of imperialism and decolonization. In exploring questions of redistributive justice, global democracy, human rights, and humanitarian intervention, we will consider the following questions: (1) in what ways are debates about global justice responding to the legacies of imperial rule, (2) how are the historical and contemporary manifestations of international hierarchy challenged and retrenched, and (3) is contemporary cosmopolitanism an alibi for new forms of imperialism?
ECON 24720: Inequality: Origins, Dimensions, and Policy, Allen Sanderson
For the last three decades, incomes in the United States and across the globe have grown more unequal. That fact has attracted worldwide attention from scholars, governments, religious figures, and public intellectuals. In this interdisciplinary course, participating faculty members drawn from across the University and invited guest speakers will trace and examine the sources and challenges of inequality and mobility in many of its dimensions, from economic, political, legal, biological, philosophical, public policy, and other perspectives.
ENGL 26250: Richer and Poorer: Income Inequality, Elaine Hadley
Current political and recent academic debate has centered on income or wealth inequality. Data suggests a rapidly growing divergence between those earners at the bottom and those at the top. This course seeks to place that current concern in conversation with a range of moments in nineteenth and twentieth century history when literature and economics converged on questions of economic inequality. In keeping with recent political economic scholarship by Thomas Piketty, we will be adopting a long historic view and a somewhat wide geographic scale as we explore how economic inequality is represented, measured, assessed and addressed. Throughout, we will ask: what might the Humanities bring to this debate? Readings will include some of the following literature, Hard Times, The Jungle, The Time Machine, Native Son, Landscape for a Good Woman, White Tiger, and some of the following economic and political texts Principles of Political Economy, The Acquisitive Society, The Theory of the Leisure Class, Capital (Marx and Piketty), The Price of Inequality and Inequality Re-examined.
PLSC 23313: Democracy and Equality, James Wilson
Democracy has often been celebrated (and often criticized) for expressing some kind of equality among citizens. This course will investigate a series of questions prompted by this supposed relationship between democracy and equality. Is democracy an important part of a just society? What institutions and practices does democracy require? Is equality a meaningful or important political ideal? If so, what kind of equality? Does democracy require some kind of equality, or vice-versa? The course will begin by studying classical arguments for democracy by Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Stuart Mill, and then focus on contemporary approaches to these questions. The course will conclude with some treatment of current democratic controversies, potentially including issues of race and representation; the fair design of elections; the role of wealth in political processes; and the role of judicial review. The course aims to deepen participants' understanding of these and related issues, and to develop our abilities to engage in argument about moral and political life.
SOSC 25003: Immigration, Law, and Society, Angela Garcia
Law is everywhere within the social world. It shapes our everyday lives in countless ways by permitting, prohibiting, protecting, and prosecuting native-born citizens and immigrants alike. This course reviews the major theoretical perspectives and social science research on the relationship between law and society, with an empirical focus on Latin American migration to the United States. We explore the permeation of law in everyday life, legal consciousness, and gap between "law on the books" and "law on the ground," as well as types of immigrants, motivations behind migration, and national, state, and local immigration laws. The social impact of law is examined through the topics of liminal legality; children and families; policing, profiling, and raids; detention and deportation; and the mobilization for immigrants' rights. This course focuses on the social, political, economic, and cultural contexts of law as it relates to immigration issues. It is designed to give students the theoretical and analytical skills to critically examine the relationship between law, society, and immigration.
ECON 24450: Inequality and the Social Safety Net, Manu Deshpande
This course will introduce students to key economic and conceptual issues surrounding inequality and the social safety net. We will study the theoretical underpinnings and empirical analysis of the social safety net, focusing on the effects of social insurance and public assistance programs on individual and societal outcomes. After studying models of the insurance-incentive tradeoff, we will apply these models and econometric strategies to the empirical analysis of social safety net programs. We will study how social safety net programs interact with labor markets, specifically human capital investment and work decisions, and how they affect long-term outcomes such as income, health, well-being, and inequality. Students will learn how to analyze the tradeoffs involved in social safety net programs and will learn the current state of evidence on these programs.
SOSC 25002: Social Welfare Policy and Services, Marci Ybarra
This course introduces students to the issues and problems associated with social welfare interventions at the policy level, including an overview of its history in the US. Students are expected to learn and develop competencies in analyzing the components of current social welfare policies; designing programmatic alternatives; anticipating substantive, operational, and political advantages and disadvantages; and weighing trade-offs of policy choices. Policy domains to be considered include education, health, employment, safety net programs, and housing. While focusing on public policies, the course will include consideration of the impact of policies and programs on individuals and families.
SOSC 25005: Inequality at Work: The Changing Nature of Working Class Jobs and Prospects for Improvement, Susan Lambert
This course will consider sources of inequality in the labor market and in workplaces. Empirical evidence and theory on labor markets and job conditions will be reviewed to provide insights into changing opportunity structures for America's new working class. The goal will be to identify ways to not only ready workers for jobs in today's economy, but to also improve the quality of working class jobs themselves. The assignment for the course requires students to do some field work by observing and/or interviewing workers in an occupation requiring no more than a high school degree.
Course Cluster: The Renaissance
Wars and sieges, epics and sonnets, priests and merchants, scholarship and magic: the Renaissance was an age of accelerating transformation, which saw the rise of vernacular literature, the birth of humanism, the advent of polyphonic music, the arrival of printing, new forms of weaponry and warfare, revolutions in trade and banking, the advent of political science, breathtaking artistic innovations, first applications of the scientific method, Europe's first encounters with the New World, and a classical revival whose artistic and literary legacy transformed antiquity into a language of power recognized around the globe. Renaissance studies consider not only Europe and the Ottoman and Mediterranean worlds, but also the commercial, imperial, and missionary networks whose threads of cultural exchange stretched from Mexico to Japan. Courses in this cluster examine society, art, literature, and the political, economic, and historical experiences of the centuries after the Black Death, through literary lights like Dante and Shakespeare, intellectual innovators like Luther and Descartes, powerful leaders like Lorenzo de Medici and Queen Elizabeth I, and infamous radicals like Machiavelli and Thomas Hobbes.
ENGL 16500: Shakespeare I: Histories and Comedies, Ellen MacKay
This course will explore a selection of seven or eight plays representing Shakespeare’s youthful genres of Comedy and History. We will consider how each play fits, or doesn’t fit, within organizing dichotomies like playhouse versus print, popular versus elite, and early versus late. We will also consider how terms that structure our encounter with Shakespeare both form and deform his work, leaving us to ask, Can we do better?
ENGL 16560: Shakespeare and the Ancient Classical World, David Bevington
This course will look closely at the plays written by Shakespeare on the ancient classical world: Titus Andronicus, Julius Caesar, Troilus and Cressida, Antony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens, and Coriolanus, with an emphasis on the second, third, and fourth titles in this list. Why did Shakespeare turn to the ancient classical world for dramatic material, and what did he find there that was not available to him in the Christian world he knew at first hand? What philosophical ideas, experiments in forms of governance, and understanding of the human condition did he discover? In what ways is Shakespeare a different writer and dramatist as a result of his imaginative journey to the world of ancient Greece and Rome?
HIST 25421: Censorship from the Inquisition to the Present, Ada Palmer and Stuart McManus
Collaborative research seminar on the history of censorship and information control, with a focus on the history of books and information technologies. The class will meet in Special Collections, and students will work with the professor to prepare an exhibit, The History of Censorship, to be held in the Special Collections exhibit space in the spring. Students will work with rare books and archival materials, design exhibit cases, write exhibit labels, and contribute to the exhibit catalog. Half the course will focus on censorship in early modern Europe, including the Inquisition, the spread of the printing press, and clandestine literature in the Renaissance and Enlightenment. Special focus on the effects of censorship on classical literature, both newly rediscovered works like Lucretius and lost books of Plato, and authors like Pliny the Elder and Seneca who had been available in the Middle Ages but became newly controversial in the Renaissance. The other half of the course will look at modern and contemporary censorship issues, from wartime censorship, to the censorship of comic books, to digital-rights management, to free speech on our own campus. Students may choose whether to focus their own research and exhibit cases on classical, early modern, modern, or contemporary censorship.
MUSI 27100: Topics in the History of Western Music I, Martha Feldman
Part I of a three-quarter investigation into Western art music, with primary emphasis on the vocal and instrumental repertories of Western Europe and the United States. MUSI 27100 begins with the earliest notated music and considers monophonic liturgical chant and the development of sacred and secular vocal polyphony through the sixteenth century.
ENGL 16600: Shakespeare II: Tragedies and Romances, Ellen MacKay
This course will explore a selection of seven or eight plays representing Shakespeare’s mature genres of Tragedy and Romance (the latter a posthumous designation). Like Shakespeare I, this course will examine Shakespeare’s plays as well as the history and limitations of their conceptualization. We will give special attention to the biographical, formal, theatrical, historical, and cultural implications that ensue from the sequencing of Shakespeare’s corpus, before trying out alternatives to the rise and fall paradigm.
HIST 17400: Science, Culture, and Society in Western Civilization, Adrian Johns
This group of courses consists of two three-quarter sequences: HIST 17300-17400 (or 17403)-17504 (or 17502), and HIST 17300-17402-17503. Taking these courses in sequence is recommended but not required. Each sequence meets the general education requirement in civilization studies. Each three-quarter sequence focuses on the origins and development of science in the West. Our aim is to trace the evolution of the biological, psychological, natural, and mathematical sciences as they emerge from the cultural and social matrix of their periods and, in turn, affect culture and society. The second quarter is concerned with the period of the scientific revolution: the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. The principal subjects are the work of Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo, Vesalius, Harvey, Descartes, and Newton.
HIST 29670: Britain's Age of Revolutions, Adrian Johns
This course looks at British history in the "long seventeenth century," ranging from the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 to the end of the Stuart dynasty in 1714. The period was one of upheaval, extraordinary both in itself and in its lasting consequences. The country saw protracted civil conflict, a king put on trial and executed, and (arguably) two revolutions. Its culture was distinguished by figures such as Shakespeare, Milton, Newton, Locke, and Purcell. And it created the origins of a world empire, as well as pursuing radical developments in economics, politics, and experimental science. We shall explore aspects of this period, using selected primary and secondary sources to introduce the history and historiography of early modern English culture.
PLSC 20800: Machiavelli: Discourses on Livy and The Prince, Nathan Tarcov
This course is a reading and discussion of The Prince and the Discourses on Livy, supplemented by portions of Livy's History of Rome. Themes include the roles of princes, peoples, and elites; the merits of republics and principalities; the political roles of pagan and Christian religion and morality; war and empire; founding and reform; virtue, corruption, and fortune; the relevance of ancient history to modern experience; reading and writing; and theory and practice.
ENGL 17525: Science and Fiction: From Milton to the Moon Landing, David Simon
When and why do literary writers draw upon the experimental practices and observational habits of the sciences in order to construct their narratives? This course explores a “documentary impulse” in a wide variety of literary and cinematic genres, including the most fantastical. Readings/screenings are likely to include some of the following: Shakespeare, The Winter's Tale; Godwin, The Man in the Moone; Milton, excerpts from Paradise Lost; Fontenelle, Conversations on the Plurality of Worlds; Shelley, Frankenstein; Jules Verne, Journey to the Center of the Earth; Levi, The Periodic Table and “Observed from a Distance”; Le Guin, The Left Hand of Darkness; Ascher, Room 237; Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate.
HIST 22900: Italian Renaissance, Ada Palmer
Florence, Rome, and the Italian city-states in the age of plagues and cathedrals, Dante and Machiavelli, Medici and Borgia (1250–1600), with a focus on literature and primary sources, the recovery of lost texts and technologies of the ancient world, and the role of the church in Renaissance culture and politics. Humanism, patronage, translation, cultural immersion, dynastic and papal politics, corruption, assassination, art, music, magic, censorship, religion, education, science, heresy, and the roots of the Reformation. Assignments include creative writing, reproducing historical artifacts, and a live reenactment of a papal election. First-year students and non-history majors welcome.
College Cluster: Urban Design
Urban design concerns the proactive effort to create human settlements of a particular character and quality. The study of urban design is an opportunity to evaluate the difference between ideal and actuality, gaining an understanding of what urban designers are trying to do and why and evaluating the reasons behind apparent successes and failures. Students will explore the history, theory, and practice of urban design from multiple perspectives, from historical surveys to more contemporary investigations of urban interventions and their effect on social change, in courses offered through Art History, Geographical Studies, History, Anthropology, Sociology, Comparative Human Development, and other disciplines from the Social Sciences and Humanities. Whether urban design is capable of balancing social equity, aesthetic achievement, economic growth, and environmental stewardship is of key interest within the field, practice, and study of urban design. How do we leverage meaningful public engagement in the urban design process? How do we balance individual expression and a sense of the collective? Students will engage with these fundamental problems in diverse contexts across the cluster.
ARTH 24107: Research the Chicago Cityscape, Katherine Taylor
This course has three goals: (1) To support artist Theaster Gates’s renovations of South Side Chicago buildings for civic uses with student research on the architectural and social history of prospective buildings and their environs. The Stony Island Arts Bank and the Arts Incubator at the University are examples of Gates’s work: https://rebuild-foundation.org. (2) To develop research skills, which can be adapted to other built environments. (3) To develop an understanding of Chicago’s built environment and its social history. We meet twice a week, once to discuss common readings and once for a longer session to enable field trips (a tour of Gates’s area; visits to research archives) and collaborative research work among students. Students will work together to produce historical reports. Permission of instructor required. Please send an email explaining your interest in the course and any relevant background experience (e.g., previous course work in architectural or urban history, urban problems, or experience with any aspect of the built environment or Chicago history). Although the course does not require significant background, ideally it will include students with diverse pockets of expertise.
CHDV 20305: Inequality in Urban Spaces, Micere Keels
The problems confronting urban schools are bound to the social, economic, and political conditions of the urban environments in which schools reside. Thus, this course will explore social, economic, and political issues, with an emphasis on issues of race and class as they have affected the distribution of equal educational opportunities in urban schools. We will focus on the ways in which family, school, and neighborhood characteristics intersect to shape the divergent outcomes of low- and middle-income children residing with any given neighborhood. Students will tackle an important issue affecting the residents and schools in one Chicago neighborhood.
GEOG 24000: Chicago Neighborhoods, Emily Talen
This course is an applied learning experience in which students explore the many dimensions of Chicago neighborhoods, with a particular focus on the built environment and how it impacts – and is impacted by – the social and economic life of the city. Students will observe, interpret and represent neighborhoods through a series of exercises designed to deepen knowledge about the significance and meaning of neighborhood form. Readings and fieldwork will engage students in neighborhood analysis and observation techniques that explore contemporary issues about public life, diversity, and social equity.
GEOG 24300: Chicago by Design, Emily Talen
This course examines the theory and practice of urban design at the scale of block, street and building — the pedestrian realm. Topics include walkability, the design of streets, architectural style and its effect on pedestrian experience, safety and security in relation to accessibility and social connection, concepts of urban fabric, repair and placemaking, the regulation of urban form, and the social implications of civic spaces. Students will analyze normative principles and the debates that surround them through readings and discussion as well as first hand interaction with the urbanism of Chicago.
GEOG 26100: Roots of the Modern American City, Michael Conzen
This course traces the economic, social, and physical development of the city in North America from pre-European times to the mid-twentieth century. We emphasize evolving regional urban systems, the changing spatial organization of people and land use in urban areas, and the developing distinctiveness of American urban landscapes. All-day Illinois field trip required.
ARTH 18606: Structuring China's Built Environment, Wei-Cheng Lin
This course asks a basic question: Of what does China’s built environment in history consist? Unlike other genres of art in China, a history of China’s built environment still waits to be written, concerning both the physical structure and spatial sensibility shaped by it. To this end, students will be introduced to a variety of materials related to our topic, ranging from urban planning, buildings, tombs, gardens, and furniture. The course aims to explore each of the built environments—its principles, tradition, and history—based on existing examples and textual sources, and to propose ways and concepts in which the materials discussed throughout the quarter can be analyzed and understood as a broader historical narrative of China’s built environment.
ARTH 28606: Early 20th-Century Urban Visions, Katherine Taylor
It is hard to understand contemporary architectural debate about how cities should develop without knowing its origins in the influential city planning proposals developed by architects and planners in pre–World War II Europe and North America. This course studies those foundations, looking at the period when modernist architects and intellectuals proclaimed the obsolescence of the metropolis just as it came to dominate the modern landscape. We will examine a variety of strategies devised to order or replace the metropolis during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, ranging from the City Beautiful movement in Chicago, Camillo Sitte’s influential critique of Vienna’s Ringstrasse, and the English garden city alternative Lewis Mumford championed for the New York region, to Le Corbusier’s Plan Voisin for Paris and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Broadacre City model displayed in New York’s Rockefeller Center. We conclude with urban renewal in New York and Chicago, and Jane Jacobs’s reaction. Course readings are in primary sources. Focusing on particular projects and their promulgation in original texts and illustrations, as well as in exhibitions and film, we will be especially concerned with their polemical purposes and contexts (historical, socio-cultural, professional, biographical) and with the relationship between urbanism and architecture.
GEOG 23500: Urban Geography, Michael Conzen
This course examines the spatial organization and current restructuring of modern cities in light of the economic, social, cultural, and political forces that shape them. It explores the systematic interactions between social process and physical system. We cover basic concepts of urbanism and urbanization, systems of cities urban growth, migration, centralization and decentralization, land-use dynamics, physical geography, urban morphology, and planning. Field trip in Chicago region required.
GEOG 26900: Understanding Community: Civic Engagement and Public Policy, Charles Barlow
Public interest design has gained prominence in policy and planning strategies in recent years. Nevertheless, the rhetoric of inclusion obscures the tensions and competing agendas that complicate urban transformation. This seminar will explore the plural narratives of stakeholders in the civic engagement process by considering the role of the civic-minded researcher and policymaker alongside methodological approaches that recognize and engage with the value of normative ideas embedded within and negotiated by communities. Readings and fieldwork will enrich our understanding of ‘community’ through an exploration of grassroots social movements and activism, co-production and participatory methodologies, and, crucially, the challenges that arise from these orientations.
HIST 29656: Urban Histories - Experiencing, Using, and Representing the City, Leora Auslander
This course will provide an analysis of the changing forms, meanings, and representations of urban life in Europe from the medieval period to the present. To that end, each session will pair secondary readings with a wide range of primary sources, including maps, municipal and legal records, newspapers, novels, prints, songs, paintings, films, planning treatises, tourist guides, memoirs, architectural drawings, photographs, and advertisements. We will address the histories of building, zoning, transportation, planning, ghettoization, segregation, and gentrification. We will consider cities as destinations for migrants, refugees, pilgrims, and tourists, as well as sites of political, social, and cultural experimentation, unrest, and upheaval. At the end of the term, you will have learned how cities have been shaped by their role as centers of economic, political, and cultural life, as well as how those who inhabit them have sometimes been able to use urban space to their own ends. This will be a small discussion-based course in which each student will write a fifteen-page research paper. Our work with primary sources will provide the tools you need to pursue your research project, while our close readings of both classic and experimental historiography will assure that your final paper contributes to an ongoing scholarly conversation. The material will be drawn from (imperial) Europe, but students interested in urbanism in all parts of the world are very welcome.
ANTH 21336: Political Ecologies of the City: Urban Natures in an Urban Age, V. Nguyen
At the dawn of the “urban millennium”, the unprecedented scale and speed of worldwide urbanization has generated radically new experiences, imaginaries, and relationships to what we call “nature”. From post-industrial landscapes to concrete jungles where niches of beetles, racoons, and hawks thrive, the natural world is being critically remade by contemporary urbanism. In the process, however, new hybrid natures are also shaping humans and their environments in key ways. Radioactivity, P.M. 2.5, and a destabilized climate all put new pressures on urban infrastructures and city residents, presenting new challenges for urban planning and design. Drawing on urban anthropology and political ecology, this course explores how our inherited categories of nature/culture, city/countryside, and urban/ecology are being transformed and redefined in and through the modern city. Engaging a wide range of theoretical texts, ethnographic accounts, and practical case studies, we will examine the role of nature in the production and life of cities; environmental perception and problem definition in urban contexts; as well as how the transformation of nature in urban environments is bound up in broader processes of uneven development.
ANTH 22015: Is Development Sustainable?, Alan Kolata
This course examines alternative concepts and theoretical grounds for notions of sustainable development. We analyze core issues underlying population growth, resource extraction, "sustainable consumption," environmental change, and social transformation through a consideration of economic, political, scientific, and cultural institutions and processes. The course, based on orienting lectures and intensive class discussion of core texts, focuses on the sustainability problems of both highly industrialized countries as well as of developing nations. Previous exposure to environmental or development issues, although useful, is not required.
GEOG 23700: Placing Chicago: Geographical Perspectives on a Global City, Michael Conzen
The course examines the geographical dimensions of Chicago as a global city at several spatial scales, including its international role in the world system of cities, its structure as a metropolitan urban region, as a central city, and as a mosaic of neighborhoods. The course will focus on primary and secondary readings, field trips, class discussion, and a final research project exploring the concept of place in the Chicago context. Weekly topics will include economic organization, city-suburb dynamics, environmental conditions, land use morphology, spatial mobility, social uses of space, and long-term planning and sustainability. The central theme concerns the spatial conditions that drive the formation of place identity and landscape evolution, and how these shape the way Chicagoans adapt to the geographical reality of urban life.
PBPL 28050: Remaking Chicago: The City That Works on Social Change, Chad Broughton
In this sociological and policy-oriented course, students interface with change-agents in Chicago—community residents, religious leaders, and social activists; not-for-profit and governmental actors; and educators and researchers. The course explores how these change-agents advance innovative and also tried-and-true approaches to social problems, especially those of low-income areas characterized by troubled schools and high rates of crime (and with a particular focus on South Side neighborhoods). Students are asked to think critically about how meaningful social change occurs, and why it so often does not. The central components of the course are Chicago-oriented readings, guest speakers and panels, Friday excursions, and independent field research.
Not Offered 2017-2018
ARTH 17310: Between the Agora and the Shopping Mall, Niall Atkinson
ARTH 17708: The Plan: Diagramming Modernity in the Twentieth Century, Amy Thomas
GEOG 22700: Urban Structure and Process, Forrest Stuart
GEOG 24200: Urban Design Studio, Emily Talen
HIST 26511: Cities from Scratch: The History of Urban Latin America, Brodwyn Fischer
SOCI 20120: Urban Policy Analysis, Terry Clark