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Spring 2024 Welcome

Greetings Center Community,

Welcome to the spring semester! Over the last two weeks, we welcomed new students, new instructors, and new staff to Chicago and Philadelphia and signified a decision for our students that promises growth, challenge, and transformation.

Students in Chicago attend a production of Jackie Taylor's The Other Cinderella at The Black Ensemble Theater.

Our educational approach challenges traditional paradigms by emphasizing active engagement with society and urban environments. Through our First Voice Pedagogy, we extend learning beyond the classroom, valuing community leaders as vital sources of knowledge. This approach encourages you to apply classroom learning to real-world situations, fostering a connection between liberal arts education and practical, societal issues.

Students in Philadelphia at the iconic Love sculpture.

Place has always been a core element of powerful learning and is vital to different experiential education. From new sights, smells, or sounds; place adds context to foreign yet familiar surroundings; place sparks curiosity and wonder; place crystalizes learning in new ways.

As you immerse yourself in the diverse neighborhoods of our cities, you'll gain firsthand experience with community leaders and hear narratives often omitted from mainstream discussions. This exposure to different perspectives is crucial in developing a deeper understanding of diversity, equity, and the complexities of urban life.

Our program is not just about academic learning; it's an invitation to explore and engage with the city in meaningful ways. We encourage you to actively participate in this journey, to be curious, and to embrace the challenges that come with new experiences. Remember, being challenged is inevitable, but defeat is optional. Our team is here to support you every step of the way.

During your time with us, consider the impact you wish to make and the experiences you want to gain. Reflect on the essential role of place in learning and how it shapes our understanding of ourselves and our communities. Engage with the city, observe its dynamics, and grapple with the question “who does the city serve?” These reflections will enrich your learning experience and contribute to your personal and professional growth.

As we progress through this semester, let us all strive to be active participants in our community and embrace the opportunities for learning and growth that your experience here offers. I am excited to reconvene at the semester's end to celebrate and reflect on our collective experiences and the numerous ways in which you have grown and impacted our community.

Thank you for being a part of this journey. Together, we will explore, learn, and make a lasting difference in our cities and beyond.


Tyler L. Hough, MS (he/him)

Executive Director

The Chicago Center for Urban Life and Culture

The Philadelphia Center

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