Chicago Area Studies

Naperville may be connected to Chicago with a tollway and a Metra train, but how else is this fast-growing suburb related to one of the world’s most vibrant cities? How do inner cities and suburbs fit into their larger metropolitan regions?

We offer a unique academic program that combines both urban and suburban issues. Naperville’s ideal setting allows you to explore the culture of both the suburbs and the city. You can also spend a term studying, working and volunteering in Chicago, through the College’s Chicago Term experience.

If you pursue a minor in Chicago Area Studies, you will come to understand issues of transportation, housing, employment, segregation, sprawl and education from an urban and suburban perspective become familiar with the people, places and relationships key to understanding cities and suburbs prepare to live and work in an urban/suburban environment and understand the concept of social justice explore the large-scale changes taking place in metropolitan regions and the affect of change on culture, religion, politics, sports and leisure, social problems and the environment.

Chicago Area Studies Minor

An interdisciplinary study of cities, suburbs, and rural areas as they impact issues of culture, sports, politics, community and inequality in the larger Chicago metropolitan area. Students will undertake a substantive and practical examination of issues related to careers in fields such as urban planning, community services, public policy, environmental management, and museum studies.

For additional information about this program, see Chicago Area Studies.

A minimum 20 credit hours, including:


One of the following:


A minimum 12 credit hours from the following:


NOTE: The courses listed herein have been approved by the faculty as authorized by the Board of Trustees.  Prerequisites (if any) and the General Education Requirement(s) which each course fulfills (if any) are noted following each course description.

Current course offerings are available in Merlin.

CHAS 310 Leadership and Place (4.00)
(Same as: LEAD 310.) Leadership and Place traces the influence of home towns and home places on contemporary and historical leadership paradigms while considering such ethical questions as: What role does place play in forming a responsible and responsive leader? How does one lead responsibly and well far from home? How and where do rural, urban, and suburban ethical standards and value judgments converge and diverge? Where have the leaders of the past come from and where are they likely to be found in the future? Playing close attention to small communities and neighborhoods as key loci in the production of twentieth-century civic leaders and as ethical centers in a Jeffersonian republic, course texts, lectures, and discussions feature real-life case studies designed to engage students in debates weighing ethical and moral positions viewed through the lens of place. Leadership and Place uniquely encourages students in the stud y of personal (inside-out) as well as cultural (outside-in) place-based, ethical perspectives while inviting them to consider the foundational role home communities play in ethical leadership on the local, regional, and national level.
Prerequisite(s): Sophomore standing.
iCon(s): Experiencing Place.

CHAS 390 Special Topics in Chicago Area Studies (4.00)
Emerging issues, specialized topics, experimental offerings find their home in this course. That is, the regular curriculum may benefit from the expertise of a new faculty member, a more in-depth discussion of a particular issue or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum. This course provides the flexibility for these discussions and would include topics such as public housing, immigration, urban innovation, sports and urban life.
Prerequisite(s): SOCI 223, HIST 120 or ARTH 200.

CHAS 397 Internship (0.00-12.00)
Instructor consent required.

CHAS 399 Independent Study (1.00-12.00)
Instructor consent required.

CHAS 400 Chicago Area Studies (4.00)
The capstone brings together interdisciplinary themes in the study of urban, suburban and/or rural places, especially as these relate to the larger, Chicago metropolitan area. Students engage in a thoughtful, real world and practical examination of issues related to these places with particular attention devoted to their impact on life chances, opportunities and social justice.
Cardinal Directions Designation(s): U.S. Power Structure.

Extra-curricular and professional activities that will enrich your Chicago area studies education.

Learn more about suburban and city issues when you

  • Enroll in the Chicago Term, which involves commuting to Chicago via the Metra train for two days a week for two courses, SOCI 332 Chicago Encounters and CHAS 300 Chicago Area Studies. You’ll examine the culture of Chicago’s metropolitan region and research relevant urban topics with faculty guidance. A Chicago-based internship is optional but recommended.
  • Complete other internships and community service projects in either an urban or suburban setting.
  • Pursue international and intercultural experiences through the College’s Study Abroad programs.