May 2013 Archives

On Thursday, May 2, Matthew Skoller was a guest lecturer in Intensive Study of a Culture: Chicago Blues, an anthropology course taught by Professor Michael Dietler in which students examine Chicago blues as a distinct musical genre and cultural phenomenon. Skoller is the second of three local musicians who will give guest lectures as part of a Course Connection through the Chicago Studies Program of the University Community Service Center (UCSC).

Watch the video here.

For more information about this Course Connection, visit the links below:
"Living (and Hearing) History: Chicago Blues Musicians Share Music and Perspectives with UChicago Students" by Jake Smith
• "Chicago Blues" Course Connection Photos

By: Christopher Hansen, Communications Intern for Chicago Studies

On Tuesday, May 14, the Chicago Studies Program of the University Community Service Center (UCSC) and the Neighborhood Schools Program (NSP) co-sponsored the spring quarter's second Faculty Fireside Chat featuring Marisa de la Torre. De La Torre, Director for Internal Research Capacity at the University of Chicago Consortium of Chicago School Research, met with students to discuss the effects of school closings on displaced students based on her research studying past school closings in the city of Chicago.

If you were unable to attend the Faculty Fireside Chat or are interested in learning more about the issue, the Chicago Studies Program recommends reading the reports below:

When Schools Close: Effects on Displaced Students in Chicago Public Schools

Authors: Marisa de la Torre and Julia Gwynne
Published: October 2009

Final Report: CPS School Closings
Author: Commission on School Utilization
Published: March 6, 2013

By: Jane Bartman, Third-Year Student and Civic Journalist for Chicago Studies

From Thursday, April 25, through Saturday, April 27, the University of Chicago hosted a conference entitled "Chicago and the Built Environment," an initiative of the Urban Network of the University of Chicago. This three-day conference explored the spatial history of Chicago.

Tim Samuelson, cultural historian of the city of Chicago, delivered the conference's keynote address. In his speech, Samuelson led the audience on a journey through the city's history, as reflected by changes in architectural styles and the city's built environment. Samuelson started off by asking "What was the magic that made Chicago famous?" His talk identified key themes that have shaped much of Chicago's unique culture: the "three In-s" of ingenuity, innovation, and insecurity. Samuelson said that the city's ability to "apply unusual solutions to any given problem" comes in large part from a desire to prove itself equal to older, more-established cities. He credited this drive for making Chicago great: "it's a good incentive that keeps Chicago trying things... as long as it doesn't lose its insecurity, it will always be on its toes."

Friday's events included a series of panels and a Resource Fair. The panels discussed topics such as "Infrastructure" and "Past and Future" and featured a wide range of panelists including University of Chicago faculty as well as community leaders, historians, and architects.

On Saturday, panelists led a tour of Chicago's built environment. The tour stopped at five sites of particular significance in the city's history: the Union Stockyards, the Illinois and Michigan Canal, the Monument to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the City Farm, and the Haymarket Riot Memorial.

For more information about the conference, check out the links below:
"Chicago and the Built Environment" Conference
• The University of Chicago's Urban Network

By: Sarah Miller, Second-Year Student and Civic Journalist for Chicago Studies

On Monday, April 22, the Chicago Studies Program of the University Community Service Center (UCSC) hosted the spring quarter's first Faculty Fireside Chat featuring Harold Pollack, Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and the University of Chicago Crime Lab Co-Director.

Pollack's Fireside Chat, entitled "Reducing Gun Violence: What Works and What's Promising?" showcased the Crime Lab's 2009 study that examined strategies to improve social-cognitive skills in teenage boys in seven Chicago public schools. According to Pollack, the study was premised on the understanding that improving social-cognitive skills among young people could help to reduce youth gun violence.

In his discussion, Pollack explained that multiple issues contribute to the problem of youth gun violence, such as poverty, racism, inequality - the "failure of every social policy."

After extensive research of police records in Chicago, Pollack concluded that the majority of homicides caused by gunshots were perpetrated by young, impulsive men during altercations. He also found that most homicides were "gang-related" in that gangs illegally sell firearms to people.

During his talk, Pollack compared crime rates in the United States to those of 11 Western countries. While the United States has crime rates that are comparable or lower than other countries, Pollack showed that its homicide rate is strikingly high compared to that of its industrialized peers.

"There are way fewer dead bodies in those countries, but they have every other social problem we have," Pollack said.

Although Chicago is often hailed as the "murder capital" of the country, Pollack said that gun violence is on decline, pointing out that homicide levels in Chicago were half of what they were 20 years ago.

For more information about Pollack's Faculty Fireside Chat, the 2009 Crime Lab study, or the Chicago Studies Program, check out the links below:

Harold Pollack's Faculty Page
Chicago Studies Program
UChicago Crime Lab
This American Life Feature on Harper High School, mentioned in the Faculty Fireside Chat