Urban Studies | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

Urban Studies 

Maxwell Street: It's sociology. It's economics. Most important, it's history.

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Excerpts from a forthcoming University of Illinois at Chicago course catalog.

100 Great Cities Theory. Study documents from the UIC Great Cities Program to learn how a university can form "creative partnerships with public and private institutions" and "knowledge links with business, community, government and others to discover new answers to old problems." Analyze recommendations from the Great Cities Advisory Committee for ways the university can "assist in economic development of UIC neighborhoods without displacing current residents."

101 Great Cities Practicum. Help UIC pressure City Council and the Community Development Commission to allow the eviction of Maxwell Street merchants to make room for athletic fields, parking lots, and a campus security station. Learn how to stonewall vendors' organizations and others seeking creative partnerships to retain, clean up, and otherwise improve the world-renowned market. Devise strategies for replacing the estimated $35 million that the market's mostly poor black and Latino participants will lose in business and bargain prices.

200 Urban Entrepreneurial Theory. Join the university's newly formed Office of Entrepreneurial Studies to see how, as one economist puts it, "the Maxwell Street Market serves the inner-city poor as a business incubator and enterprise zone ...as a safety net for poverty alleviation and a platform for business development."

201 Urban Entrepreneurial Practice. Help 850 vendors who will be displaced by the market's closing in writing resumes and filing for unemployment insurance and small-business grants. Intern with colorful raconteur Oscar D'Angelo to help him turn Maxwell Street and surrounding areas into an incubator to develop his and his friends' enterprises. Help developers transform nearby CHA buildings into private housing for graduate students and underpaid opera performers.

300 Urban Crime Prevention Theory. Engage in research "analyzing causes and prevention of crime and anti-social conduct." Read texts depicting how the Maxwell Street Market "serves as a mechanism to keep people out of the net of the criminal justice system."

301 Urban Crime Practice. Help identify and trace the illegal criminal activities of market vendors and their family members--before and after the closing of the market. Work an eight-hour shift in the new UIC Maxwell Street security station trying to keep squatter vendors from hawking their products.

400 Multicultural Communication Theory. Learn how the university's Great Cities program can "enhance understanding and appreciation of diversity and multicultural issues on grass roots and academic levels" and "develop a multi-cultural center that promotes self-expression and facilitates communication and cooperation among groups that compose urban America."

401 Multicultural Communication Practicum. Oversee the historic demise of what texts call "the Ellis Island of the Midwest" and a "town center meeting place for several different ethnic groups unique in Chicago and perhaps in the United States." Help collect oral histories of colorful Maxwell Street characters for a proposed on-campus museum that will show future generations of students and campus visitors how the market "contribute[d] to the positive and distinctive image of Chicago" and "provide[d] a taste of immigrant Chicago unlike any other."

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