Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization

Division of Social Sciences, The University of Chicago

Calumet Quarter 2024: The Power of Place

Through a concatenation of cultural practices, social relations and economic processes—all within the indomitable crucible of nature—people don’t just create places, they produce vastly different sorts of places: urban and rural, towns, cities, neighborhoods and villages and their myriad interconnections. This rich geographical tapestry is reason enough for the juggernaut of global tourism.

At the University of Chicago, we study places because of their intrinsic interest but perhaps more importantly, we study places to learn what it means to be human. During Spring 2024, students can embark on this intellectual journey in an immersive learning experience called the “Calumet Quarter.”  Through three linked courses, students will take a deep dive into the very specific historical geography of the Calumet region south and east of Chicago and, along the way, gain insights and analytical skills relevant to understanding other places:  we develop an approach to place and learn its power.  The Calumet Quarter is a collaboration between Chicago Studies and the Committee on Environment, Geography and Urbanization.


Planning for Land and Life in the Calumet

CEGU 26366, ENST 26366, CHST 26366, PBPL 26366

The course considers the global phenomenon of so-called cultural and historical “heritage sites” and explores the processes and rationales through which vastly different sorts of places earn that designation. Within that context, students will analyze the sustained effort to create a “Calumet National Heritage Area” in the southern reaches of Chicago and adjacent northwestern Indiana comprised of diverse landscapes, people and their often contentious histories.

Objects, Place and Power

Taught by Jessica Landau | CEGU 26367, ENST 26367, CHST 26367

Objects are not only formed and interpreted through ideas of place and power, but also shape place and identity. This course looks at how material culture has, in part, formed understandings of the Calumet. Through methods drawn from art history and museum studies, we will look closely at objects, collections, and institutions in the region to analyze the power and politics of representation in placemaking.

Environmental Transitions and Unnatural Histories

Taught by Mary Beth Pudup | CEGU 26368, ENST 26368, CHST 26368

The course considers changes wrought in the natural landscape of the greater Calumet region beginning with indigenous Potawatomi and their forced removal.  Students will examine how the Calumet’s natural environment became collateral damage of the industrial capitalism that transformed the region into an economic powerhouse and explore efforts to rehabilitate the Calumet’s rich biodiversity, identifying the challenges and achievements of this most recent environmental transition.

To learn more about the Calumet Quarter 2024, please join us Friday, January 12 at noon for an information session.↗