Through interdisciplinary study and experiential learning, the Urban Studies program fosters understanding of the causes and consequences of the urban condition, the origins and implications of urban issues, and the presence and influence of the city in the world. The program offers courses that:
- introduce cities and urban life;
- present approaches to and methods of urban studies;
- emphasize interdisciplinarity;
- address key issues of urban experience; and
- examine the relationship between the Christian faith and contemporary urban challenges.
Wheaton in Chicago, a semester-long, residential, experiential program, available to all Wheaton College students, is required of all Urban Studies majors and minors. During the Wheaton in Chicago program, students complete internships, gaining practical work experience with organizations in Chicago, and enroll in courses earning major and Christ at the Core credit. The Wheaton in Chicago program also emphasizes leadership, mentoring, and vocational discernment.
The program provides a foundation for graduate study in social science and professional fields while preparing students for possible employment in fields such as advocacy, community and economic development, cultural affairs, ministry, public health, research, social enterprise, social work, and policy, planning and design, among others.
The Urban Studies major and minor, as well as Wheaton in Chicago, are programs of the Wheaton College Center for Urban Engagement (CUE). CUE exists to promote just, sustainable, and flourishing urban communities through the academic study of cities and transformational experiences of urban life.
Director and Chair, Associate Professor Christa Tooley
Associate Professor Gregory Lee
Associate Lecturer Sean Young
Visiting Assistant Lecturer Lily Quiroa-Crowell
Urban Studies Courses
URBN 114. Social Life of Cities. (4 Credits)
This course introduces students to the study of cities and their associated social phenomena, while crafting a biblically informed perspective upon various urban issues. Students engage a broad range of research upon cities in a variety of domestic and international contexts through class readings, lectures and multimedia presentations. Key concepts which have been used to characterize the distinctiveness of urban life are introduced and discussed, with attention to the comparative experiences of contemporary cities.
Tags: GP, SI
URBN 233. Chicago. (4 Credits)
This course explores the social dynamics of Chicago, a city defined by its "elegant façade and deeply shadowed backstage," to quote one scholar. Students will learn about Chicago's history, as well as several contemporary issues and controversies, by focusing on economic history, race, race relations, ethnicity, and immigration, and environmental justice.
Tags: DUS, SI
URBN 296. Urban Studies Practicum. (2 or 4 Credits)
Supervised field placements and mentorship in urban contexts. Students must have sophomore standing to be eligible. Provides opportunities for vocational discernment and requires students to think through the ways in which their field experience will inform the coursework they will complete as juniors and seniors.
URBN 321. Urban Issues and Active Faith. (2 Credits)
An interdisciplinary course designed to help students integrate their internship, classroom, and daily life experiences while living in the city under the Wheaton in Chicago program. Course is offered occasionally.
URBN 352. Topics in Urban Studies. (2 Credits)
Selected topics, designed to give added breadth and depth to the understanding of cities and Urban Studies. May include such subjects as "The Chicago School" of Urban Studies, Urban Planning & Contemporary Environments, and The City in Film. Occasional.
URBN 354. Topics in Urban Studies. (4 Credits)
Selected topics, designed to give added breadth and depth to the understanding of cities and Urban Studies. May includes such subjects as "The Chicago School" of Urban Studies, Urban Planning & Sustainable Environments, and The City in Film. Occasional.
URBN 362. Global Cities: Cities and the World. (4 Credits)
This course examines the effects of globalization on major urban centers in the world system, comparing and contrasting cities in North American, Europe, Africa, and Asia. Students will study the economic, political, and social impact, as well as responses of government and civil society. Course is offered occasionally.
URBN 371. Race, Class, and Justice. (4 Credits)
A study of racial injustice in the United States, focusing on the urban context. This course draws from history, sociology, theology, and other disciplines to analyze the concept of race and to develop a Christian vision for racial justice and reconciliation. This course is designed for Wheaton in Chicago.
URBN 373. The City in Popular Culture. (2 Credits)
Explores common representations of the city as they emerge within the media of popular culture. These characterizations of the city are critically considered within frameworks of anthropological analysis and therefore highlight issues of meaning, practice, history and human agency. Course is offered occasionally.
URBN 381. Community Economic Development & Enterprise. (4 Credits)
This experiential course teaches concepts and frameworks of community economic development with special focus on the role of private enterprise and its relationship to other key actors, such as non-profit institutions and government agencies. Students will study ways in which community development practices, entrepreneurship, and business,development can be leveraged to promote economic opportunity in urban neighborhoods. The course includes case studies, fields, and guest lectures, and students will also take advantage of proximity to various institutions of community economic development and enterprise, including the University of Chicago's Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation.
URBN 383. Cities in the Global South. (2 Credits)
Cities in the global south today face a variety of challenges, requiring careful negotiation through policy and everyday practice. This course introduces students to the particular issues which colonial histories and peripheral participation in global markets have produced in some key cities of the global south. Strategies and innovations for future development are presented as possibilities for local agency and transformation. Course is offered occasionally.
URBN 385. Urban Politics. (2 Credits)
See PSCI 385.
URBN 391. Community-Based Research in Urban Public Health. (4 Credits)
Theory and practice of public health program planning and evaluation in partnership with community public health organizations in urban Chicago. Students will integrate principles of community building and organizing to address community-identified health issues in the context of social change. Emphasis will be placed upon the development of faith-based cultural humility for the recognition and empowerment of existing healthy community assets for the improvement of urban health and quality of life. Quantitative and qualitative research methods will be utilized and integrated throughout all phases of health planning and program evaluation. $50 course fee. Prerequisite: AHS 381. Course is offered occasionally.
URBN 393. Placemaking in Urban Contexts. (2 Credits)
Explores the processes by which particular configurations of history, identity and landscape are transformed into identifiable and meaningful places in the construction and development of cities. Case studies will be drawn from multiple cities around the world, including Scotland, China, and Africa and will examine the use of local and global narratives, images, and logics, highlighting the socially contested and constructed nature of this process. Course is offered occasionally.
URBN 399. Pre-field Preparation. (0 Credits)
Prepares students for undertaking a field experience in Chicago with the Wheaton In Chicago program. Through correspondence with a faculty member in Urban Studies, students are introduced to relevant practical issues and challenges, particularly related to cross-cultural competencies, as well as many resources which will be available to them through the duration of their experiential education program. This course equips students to maximize the impact of their urban field experience, develop practical intercultural skills, and positively and holistically contribute to life in a community.
URBN 494. Advanced Urban Studies Seminar. (2 Credits)
This capstone course requires integrative, interdisciplinary reflection upon emerging urban forms, urban field experiences, and vocation. Undergraduate students must have completed and urban field experience (e.g., Wheaton in Chicago) or internship prior to enrolling in the course, unless they secure the consent of the Urban Studies Program Director.
General Education: SHAR
URBN 495. Independent Study. (2 to 4 Credits)
Directed reading and research during the student's urban field experience.
URBN 496. Internship. (2 to 8 Credits)
Supervised field experience in an urban setting, usually Chicago. The internship is designed to meet the particular interests of the student, as well as the needs of the host organization and neighborhood. Graded pass/fail.