Aerial wideshot overlooking Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood with Nichols Tower standing tall above the scene.

credit: Tom Harris Photography

Degree Classes

Classes and workshops at SAIC at Homan Square deliver core education in the visual arts, introduce contemporary artists, and help students build their technical skills in design and technology.

Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 Courses

Ecology of Contested Spaces
Charles Corwin
Tuesdays, 9 a.m.–12 p.m.

In a moment of mass migration to cities, a global pandemic, social unrest and upheaval, and political turmoil worldwide, the acceleration of climate change attributed to human activity will only make living conditions worse for most of earth’s inhabitants. The dominant capitalist and neoliberal ideologies of the moment seem to offer some solutions but at the expense of too many.

Such turmoil is a call for fundamental shifts in how we think about and exist in this radically different landscape. From compost politics to considering the mushroom, we will traverse through various contested spaces with these alternative frameworks to explore what it means to be human and what it means to include the non-human.

The course is structured around class dialogues, critical readings, and community-based projects. The purpose of this class is to explore these new challenging modes of being, among other species and things, in a rapidly changing world. We will learn about existing political and economic structures, forms of governance, and dominant ideologies, as well as responses from individuals, groups, and critters throughout the world.

SAIC Design @ Homan Square
AIADO 4101-001 (2094)
Wednesdays 9 a.m.–4 p.m.
Eric Hotchkiss

SAIC Design @ Homan Square combines professional practice design experience with community activism. Operating out of SAIC’s facility in the Nichols Tower at Homan Square, the course engages students in a focused dialogue on social project implementation in Chicago and provides the tools and frameworks to realize those projects. Functioning as a pro bono “design consultancy” where the residents, small businesses, and community groups of North Lawndale act as “clients,” each job is treated as a discrete project involving research, knowledge-sharing, and design action. The projects will cover a two-semester cycle with each semester being offered as an independent class. 

Community Practice and Helping Relationships
Thursdays, 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
Leah Ra’Chel Gipson, Pascale Ife Williams

This interdisciplinary course critically examines and activates the spaces in and between social practice and research justice, arts and cultural curation, and community care. Through introduction to an ecological approach, learners will engage various creative healing praxes (reflection + action) to deepen self-reflexivity while working alongside community: social practice artists, organizers, and wellness practitioners. Off-campus experiential research and collaborative community practice, predominantly in Chicago’s North Lawndale neighborhood, are key aspects of this course. 

Environmental Justice
Thursdays, 9 a.m.–12 p.m.
Social Science Liberal Arts
Charles Corwin

In this course, students will engage with theoretical and historical perspectives of environmental inequalities on a global and regional scale. The course examines community responses and policy solutions to environmental problems, particularly at the intersection of environmental quality and public health and race, gender, and class inequities. We also discuss environmentalism amid colonial and capitalist power structures. Lawndale and Little Village, two Chicago communities with rich histories of environmental activism, serve as local case studies. The readings for this course include works from Rachel Stein, who writes on environmental activism and gender; Anna Tsing, an anthropologist concerned with human/nature interactions at the edges of global capitalism; Robert Brulle, a scholar/activist writing on current environmental movements; Kyle Whyte, who writes from an indigenous perspective on the relationships of indigenous peoples and climate activism. We will also review policy papers from the National Resource Defense Council and other advocacy groups.