Around Chicago in 80 days

The Study Chicago Quarter makes inroads on creating more accessible study abroad options by allowing students to learn locally.

By Maroon Editorial Board

On Wednesday, UChicago Study Abroad announced a new program that focuses on the city of Chicago: the Study Chicago Quarter (SCQ). The SCQ launches in a pilot version this Spring. This study abroad-style program is open by application to 20 undergraduates who will take three classes focusing on different aspects of the city of Chicago: its history, representation in art and literature, and politics. The classes will be supplemented by weekly excursions to locations throughout Chicago. The Maroon Editorial Board commends UChicago Study Abroad and the Chicago Studies department for introducing a program that is more accessible than other study abroad options and that will encourage students to engage more directly with the city in which they live.

The SCQ is an opportunity for students to learn about one of the world’s great cities. Admissions consistently highlights the academic, social, and professional opportunities that the city of Chicago provides to students. However, due to the demands of class work and extracurricular activities, many students spend four years at UChicago rarely leaving Hyde Park. The SCQ is a chance for interested students to immerse themselves in the city without forcing them to limit their involvement in other areas of campus life.

Chicago may not seem as exciting a location as Paris or Rome, but it is still rich in culture and history, a fact the SCQ does well to remind us of. While the Chicago Studies department currently offers a wide array of courses (e.g. “Race in Contemporary American Society”, “Law and Urban Problems”), the majority of them focus on broad issues like race and politics and are only tangentially related to the city of Chicago itself. Furthermore, the SCQ offers a much more immersive approach than other Chicago Studies classes and will allow students to experience the city more thoroughly. It is tempting to smirk at the idea the SCQ being marketed as another study abroad program, but it is worth noting how little many students actually know about this city.

Finally, the new program is a more practical way for students to “study abroad.” The SCQ comes without the added travel and living costs of traditional study abroad programs and is a less disruptive way for students to break out of the monotonous rhythm of a standard UChicago quarter. On top of this, students can still take one class in addition to the program, providing flexibility to students with more restrictive major requirements. Ultimately, the SCQ is an opportunity for students to stop pretending to their friends and family back home that they know Chicago, and actually get to know it for real.

–The Maroon Editorial Board