October 10, 2008

College website highlights Chicago studies

The Chicago Studies program, a new interdisciplinary program for College students, has launched a related website featuring city resource guides, campus and citywide event information, Chicago factoids, and a blog called “The Blog that Works,” which explores topics from Chicago vegetarian dining to Hyde Park chess leagues.

Launched last spring, the program is meant to encourage the academic study of Chicago in a way akin to study-abroad programs’ focus on host cities, said John Boyer, dean of the College.

“We live in a great city, and there are very few of them in the world,” Boyer said. “It’s a shame to live in a great city for four years and to be oblivious to it all.”

The program encourages students to submit essays, memoirs, articles, or news pieces about Chicago, potentially for display on the website, according to Boyer. He also anticipates using the website,, to publicize events sponsored by local organizations such as the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

“We wanted the website to [contain] information about the city—not something you could find on Metromix, but something you’d find between the purely recreational and the academic,” said Michael Jones, associate dean of the College.

“We are unapologetically experimenting here in order to figure out what will be attractive, useful, interesting,” he said.

“We’re probably going to encourage more courses [on Chicago] because there seems to be a student demand,” Boyer said. “If you have to choose a topic for your B.A. project anyway, why not choose Chicago?”

Additionally, the program will publish an annual collection of B.A. theses written about Chicago, with the first issue due to appear this November.

Boyer said that he hopes to use the program and the website to create more local internship opportunities for students. “We have good summer internships, but the alumni have to volunteer and arrange them,” he said. “We want to raise awareness among alumni. Linking students and alumni together can only have all sorts of positive influences.”