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University of Chicago's Civic Knowledge program brings together, helps growing South Side arts, social action and environmental scenes

Presented by Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference and its website Join the Conference.

The Civic Knowledge Project
Division of Humanities - University of Chicago

Walker Museum 009, 1115 E. 58th St. Chicago, IL 60637

773 834-3929, Fax 773 702-6305,

Director: Bart Schultz (

Coordinators: Joanie Friedman, Erika Dudley (, Hannah Jacoby, Clare Johnson


Civic Knowledge is the academic outreach and inclusion arm of the University, not just of the Division of Humanities in which it resides. Major outreach sectors include economic and general sustainability of south side communities, help to community organizations and providers of all types on the South Side, inclusion and tracking of children and adults in learning, including towards college, help to small arts and cultural organizations. Bart Schultz adds: "we are much, much more than the Southside Arts and Humanities network, wonderful as that is! We offer an afterschool program, Winning Words, and lots of educational opportunities for disadvantaged adults that are not part of that network. And of course we have a new network, the Partnering for a Sustainable Chicago network, which is offering FREE community workshops on how to save money and go green at the same time. We are working with CPS to help implement the Environmental Action Plan for CPS schools. Please check out the website link below, especially the programs section."

Bart Schultz
Director of the Civic Knowledge Project
Senior Lecturer in the Humanities
and Special Programs Coordinator at the Graham School of General Studies
University of Chicago

Our Programs

WinningWords: Verbal Arts for Democratic Practice- a comprehensive after school program for local middle school students

The Southside Arts and Humanities Network- a support and development network for small local arts organizations

Odyssey Project/Adult Education- free humanities courses for college credit available to low-income adults

Know Your Neighborhood Initiatives- opportunites to learn about the rich cultural heritage of Chicago's south Side through courses, workshops, and our website resources

Sustainability and Local Infrastructures- a series of educational initiatives - from courses to participatory bio blitzes- promoting community collaboration on issues of urban ecology

Our Collaborators

  • The Office of Special Programs- College Prep
  • The Graham School of General Studies
  • The Odyssey Project/Illinois Humanities Council
  • The Center for Urban School Improvement
  • The Sustainability Council at the University of Chicago and Sustain Partners
  • The DuSable Museum of African American History
  • The National Association for Urban Debate Leagues.

Please Join Us!

We welcome your help! Community members, students, and faculty have discovered that CKP offers some of the most positive and fulfilling volunteer opportunities around.

Grounding Ideas

The aim of Civic Knowledge Project (CKP) is to develop and strengthen community connections, helping to overcome the social, economic, and racial divisions among the various knowledge communities on the South Side of Chicago. We believe that the free and reciprocal flow of knowledge is empowering. Working with our many local collaborators, we

  • Provide educational and humanities programming linking the University of Chicago to other knowledge communities surrounding it.
  • Develop institutional policy for the exchange of knowledge among different local knowledge communities.
  • Serve as an educational and organizational resource for our communities.


In addition it has a part in the Darfur conversations, "Humanities in a Time of Hardship."

Although the University of Chicago and its Smart Museum, Court Theater, Renaissance Society, Oriental Institute as well as the enlarged and reinvigorated Hyde Park Art Center, as well as Harper Court Foundation/Arts Council, DuSable Museum, Black Pearl and many others described or linked from our Arts and Cultural Resources page have long had major outreach effort in the schools, parks and community at large, the efforts under Civic Knowledge of the U of C's Humanities Division to bring the many arts organizations together, educate them for success and takeoff, and create a combined force throughout the mid South Side are absolutely unprecedented. It overshadows the hopes some had of the possibilities some saw from Harper Court's sale for arts grants or the Hyde Park Arts Center in its new quarters--indeed, may envelope such realizations. It also meshes with th University's efforts to invigorate, support and "clarify" the arts at the University, including with a proposed new center for Creative an performing Arts and other new facilities (See in Arts and Cultural News and In University and Community, linked at top of page.) Much about Civic Knowledge in its earlier phases is found there. This first article, below, summarizes its growing vigor and directions, including core outreach such as Odyssey classes for low income people. .

Reach Civic Knowledge at
Join the arts programs and opportunites listserve. More on programs by 2007.

From the University of Chicago Chronicle, March 15, 2007. By Josh Schonwald:

Growth in outreach programming leads to gains in leadership for Humanities' Civic Knowledge Project

After three years of continued growth, the University's civic Knowledge Project, which was started to enhance the University's relationship with the surrounding neighborhoods, recently announced two new hires.

Bart Schultz, Senior Lecturer in the Humanities and Special Coordinator for the Graham School of General Studies, has been named Director of the Civic Knowledge Project. Joanie Friedman, formerly of the Redmoon Theater, has joined the project as Program Coordinator to focus specifically on managing its growing Southside Arts and Humanities Network.

The directorship, formerly held by Elizabeth Babcock, has grown into these two collaborative positions. "This is a testament to the growth and popularity of the programs," said David Thompson, Associate Dean of Planning and Programming in the Division of the Humanities. The Civic Knowledge Project also has grown with generous support from the Chicago Community Trust, the Spencer foundation and private donations.

Schultz, a political philosopher and author of the award-winning book, Henry Sidgwick: Eye of the Universe, has taught classes in the College for more than two decades. In addition to his scholarship and teaching, he has been developing service-learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, and designing humanities programs for a general audience.

Since 2002, Schultz has been planning ethics-related programming for a general audience for the Graham School. In 2005, he became the liaison between the Civic Knowledge Project and the Graham School, and developed courses open to both University and community members, a number of which have been held at DuSable Museum of African American History.

"Under Bart Schultz's leadership, I'm confident tha CKP will continue to grow and to redefine and enhance the University's relationship to its South Side community, allowing for the exchange of knowledge--both directions--across university boundaries," said Rebecca Zorach, member of the Civic Knowledge Project Faculty Advisory Committee and Assistant Professor in Art History and the College.

In his new role, he will be chiefly responsible for fulfilling the core mission of the project. "His specific mandate," wrote Danielle Allen, Dean of the Humanities and founder and former Executive Director of the Civic Knowledge Project, "is to continue to develop humanities programs that allow for the exchange of knowledge and enriched intellectual engagement between the University and community and community and University."

Said Schultz of his new role, "I'm delighted. It's a tremendous opportunity to enrich the intellectual connections between the University and the South Side community." Schultz will assume responsibility for several Civic Knowledge initiatives that have grown in popularity in recent years with students and faculty. These projects include the South Side programs of the nationally acclaimed Odyssey Project, one-year course in the humanities for adults living at or near the poverty level, and a project to provide access to the University's Joseph Regenstein Library to South Side public school teachers.

Another popular program, which links College students on the University's Urban Debate Coordinating Committee with high school and middle-school debaters, also has expanded. Under Schultz's guidance, the program, initiated and coordinated by undergraduate Greg Cheyne, has grown into a yearlong afterschool program called "Winning Words: Orate, Debate and Enact/Verbal Arts for Democratic Practice." Now a collaboration of the University's Office of Special Programs, College Prep, the South Shore Urban Debate Project, and Silk Road Theatre Project, the program connects Chicago student to more than 120 young students at 10 South Side schools. It offers opportunities to earn a wide range of performance arts, including debating, public speaking and acting.

Friedman joins the University after four years of directing the Redmoon Theater's Dramagirls, a youth theater and mentorship program located in the Logan Sure-Humboldt Park area. In her new role, Friedman will coordinate the program formerly known as "Enhancing Assets." Renamed the Southside Arts and Humanities Network, the project has grown more ambitious, Friedman said. "Originally, this was a MacArthur funded mapping project, seeking to identify the small and mid-sized arts and humanities organizations on the South Side."

Thanks to financial support from the Chicago Community Trust, it has grown into a resource-sharing and capacity-building network for small-scale arts and humanities institutions on the South Side. Currently, Friedman said, the project has identified more than 200 such organizations. At this time, the Southside Arts and Humanities Network provides support in a variety of ways, including reduced-cost and free, professional development classes through the Graham School, small grant opportunities, a newsletter, an e-mail listserve and networking events. More than 40 organizations attended a networking event in January at the Smart Museum of Art.

"There's a lot of enthusiasm for this type of support," friedman said. In the past, professional development classes have offered valuable nuts-and-bolts training in fund-raising, public relations, and laws. This February, a class taught by the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, the publishers of the Journal of Ordinary Thought, showed organizations how to harness narrative techniques for organizational and communication purposes.

The Civic Knowledge Project also is offering organizations $1,000 grants for performances, benefits or events. "Our goal is simple," Friedman said, "it's to help these organizations grow stronger, gain more visibility and continue to impact the community.

More information about the Civic Knowledge Project is at its Web site at


In its fourth year, 2007, Civic Knowledge received a $1 million endowment to go with its other grants (Chicago Community Trust, Spencer Foundation...). This gift from an anonymous donor comes at a critical time of rapid expansion, allowing CK to focus fundraising on program. One of the first fruits is the South Side Arts and Humanities Network--including full blown calendar and training and the next is Partnering for Sustainable Chicago.

Bart Schultz is now Director.

Joanie Friedman now coordinates the Southside Arts and Humanities Network (has its won website Southside). The network supports and gives advice to organizations--200 strong.

Erika Dudley, expert in community development and adult literacy, coordinates Odyssey Project(a course in arts for those in poverty) and is Parent-Education Coordinator at Donoghue charter school.

Hannah Jacoby coordinates Winning Words: Orate, Debate, and Enact/Verbal Arts for Democratic Practice, a year-long after-school program for high and middle school students.

Clare Johnson coordinates Institutional Policy/Know Your Neighborhood.

On the horizon is a green and green education program among other ways to connect to and serve communities.


From Civic Knowledge Project December 2007: (HPKCC Committee is a partner)

Dear friends of Civic Knowledge Project and our new network, Partnering
for Sustainable Chicago,

As you may know, we are trying to create a formal network that connects
the many interested parties of environmental and social action
initiatives in Chicago. In addition to the listhost, we are currently
working on creating a website that will have an electronic calendar
where we can all post upcoming events, a blog where we can discuss
current issues and initiatives, useful website links and finally a
directory that we can use to learn about each other and the many groups
operating in Chicago.

If you or someone you know would like to have your contact information
in our directory, simply fill out the attached form and email it back to
me or one of my colleagues, Clare Johnson at or
Dave Aftandilian at Or, feel free to give us
a call at 773-834-3929 ex.5 (I must warn you, however, we will be out of
the office until January 7th).

We look forward to learning more about you and working with you to make
a sustainable Chicago!

Nalika Vasudevan
Civic Knowledge Project Intern and Partnering for Sustainable Chicago


Civic Knowledge Project to address sustainability in HP [and South Side]. Experimental Station, DuSable Museum are [initial] venues. (This group has already held its inaugural networking event in Woodlawn with a host of organizations present to hear Edith Makkra (Morton Arboretum), Ken Dunn, Jack Spicer and tour a community garden.)

Hyde Park Herald, January 2, 2008. By Georgia Geis

University of Chicago's Civic Knowledge Project (CKP) has launched a new environmental and social action initiative, Partnering for Sustainable Chicago, with an email mailing list and two winter courses. They are also working on a website that will feature a calendar of all relevant events, links to local organizations' websites and a blog to discuss local environmental issues.

"There is so much people can do in their own backyards -- plant trees or turn vacant lots into play areas," said Bart Schultz, director of CKP. "We want to make the expertise available and affordable.

Schultz said the event that spurred this program was the tremendous response to a September visit by the Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Maathai. Maathai, who spoke to a captivated audience at the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Ave., was born in rural Kenya in 1j940 and went on to become the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in East and Central Africa. She was also the first woman to head an academic department at a university in Kenya, Veterinary Anatomy at University of Nairobi. In 1977, she founded the Green Belt Movement, which aided in the restoration of forests throughout Africa while also paying rural women to plant trees in their villages. [Ed. The movement was also a major spur to both democracy and women's rights and empowerment, all being intimately linked in Wangari's worldview. Her action is now worldwide.]

"We have really been inspired by Maathai and her Green Belt Movement," said Schultz. Individuals and groups filled out surveys at the Maathai event to guide the CKP in establishing the initiative, including the courses offered through the Graham School of General Studies at the U. of C.

One of the two courses, which begins Jan. 12 and runs through Feb. 16. focuses on Maathai's book titled "Wangari Muta Maathai: Her Life and work." The class, taught by Lisa Biggs, will take place from 1:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays at the Dusable Museum of African American History, 740 E. 56th Pl. Biggs, w ho is completing a Ph.D. in performance studies at Northwestern University, wil lead the class to study all facets of Maathai and translate her work into community organizing that can happen on the South Side.

The other course is essentially a series of workshops, "Chicago Dialogues on Urban Ecology and Local Infrastructures: Looking Downstream," led by Martha Boyd, the urban initiative facilitator for the Angelic Organics Learning Center based in Hyde Park. The discussion for this course will focus on water -- both uses and waste. This class will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on thursdays at the Experimental Station, 6100 S. Dorchester [Blackstone] Ave. The course begins Jan. 10 and runs through Feb. 14. Goth classes will feature guest speakers. The cost of a class is $255. Schultz said no one should be discouraged by th cost and that there are subsidies and financial aid available for those who cannot afford the tuition. The classes are meant to be discussion courses, so they will be limited to 20 to 25 people. "We can also accommodate groups, giving a group rate for schools and various clubs," said Schultz.

CKP was first established through the Division of Humanities in July 2003 to each out to the community and to offer programming, social initiatives such as the South Side Arts and Humanities [Network], research projects and community partnerships.

Schultz said that just as they discovered many art organizations when they started the South Side Arts and Humanities project, they have found many individuals and organizations on the South Side doing environmental advocacy. "There are a lot of groups that can benefit by sharing a calendar as well as having joint events. We think this is good use of our resources," said Schultz.

There will be more courses offered in the spring, including a class taught by David Aftandilian of the U. of C. Environmental Studies department about religion and the environment. To find out more, call Schultz at 834-3929 or email

[Ed. New outreach is also being modeled on and collaborated with what is being done at other urban top-rank universities such as Columbia and University of Pennsylvania.] Top