Organizing, Power, and Hope

Social Concerns Seminar
CSC 33965
THEO 33965

This seminar explores the field of community organizing in action on the streets of Chicago.

What is a community organizer?  According to veteran organizer Edward T. Chambers, “Organizers are agitators, catalysts, and public-life coaches.  They stand for the whole. They make things happen. They are rooted in the holy books, democracy’s founding documents, and the lives of public heroines and heroes…They are public people who seek collective power to act for justice…Organizing means an endless search for talent, passion, vision and the ability to relate to other people.” Roots for Radicals, 2006.

Throughout four classroom sessions and a six-day immersion trip in January, participants will learn more about community organizing and building power through:

  • Meeting with organizers and learning from local church, school, not-for-profit leaders, foundations, and labor groups about community organizing initiatives to improve life in Chicago neighborhoods.
  • Experiencing the hope, the disappointments, and the moments of grace in community organizing and social change work.
  • Challenging perceptions of power and powerlessness, service and action.
  • Capturing the Spirit found in building diverse relationships.

Participants are invited to experience this faith-based program, and to be open to developing new perspectives on the role of neighborhood organizations and churches responding to social needs. This seminar is intended for students with previous urban experience eager to sharpen their social analysis, and to learn new forms of ministry for adults committed to social justice.  

The six days will include conversations and social action with diverse leaders throughout Chicago's organizing community, working through local organizations devoted to overcome situations of injustice and poverty afflicting members of their constituencies.  Each day there will be an opportunity to explore hope in Chicago neighborhoods that are often considered to be hopeless.

Recommended additional spending money: $75


  • Students must provide their own transportation to and from the location, but not while on the immersion.
  • ​If needing to travel by air, air travel must be confirmed with the seminar director by the end of November.
  • Please contact Greg White, Seminars Lead Coordinator, at if travel expense is a burden.

Things to Note:

  • Class meetings during Fall, 2017 are to be determined. January 2018, immersion dates are also to be determined, however in recent years the immersion  has taken place immediately before dorms open for spring semester so that students can travel directly to campus.
  • As part of participation in a seminar, we seek to live intentionally and simply during the immersion, please be flexible. We ask that you take the opportunity to invest fully and embrace the change of pace and amenities.
  • You will receive more specific details about your experience during preparation classes
  • Most meals will be prepared by your team or in conjunction with your hosts.
  • Student leaders and your seminar director will be your liaison with community partner contacts.
  • Lodging is provided – you will be responsible for your own bedding
  • You must participate in all class sessions and entire immersion in order to complete requirements for the course. If you miss any class for any reason you will be responsible for making the class up. 
Application Process: 
  • You cannot register for the seminar until you receive registration information from Seminars staff.
  • The application deadline is midnight on October 31.
  • Please note that the credits earned in the class will be applied to your spring semester.
  • By submitting the application, you confirm you are in good academic standing.
  • With questions about your application, email

The CSC Seminars winter application will be available in mid-August, 2017.


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