UIC Liberal Arts and Sciences Learning Clusters--Get Into the Program!

As a beginning freshman in the UIC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences this coming fall, you have the opportunity to participate in an exciting new program designed to make your first year of college as rewarding and enjoyable as possible.

What are Freshman Learning Clusters?

A Freshman Learning Cluster is a core of three courses centered on a theme that meet freshman and General Education requirements. In a cluster, you will be in a group of no more than 25 students enrolled in the same core courses taught by professors and instructors who will work closely with you. You will meet with an undergraduate mentor and with an academic adviser. If you sign up for a cluster, you will also have time to take additional courses in order to fulfill your full-load requirement and stay on track for graduation.

The Cluster Academic Core: Each core consists of the following required courses which will focus on a theme of your choice.

Fall Semester
  • Freshman Seminar: Introduction to University Study (LAS 100)
  • English Composition I (English 160)*
  • A course meeting a general education requirement or prerequisite

Spring Semester

  • English Composition II (English 161)
  • oA course meeting a general education requirement or prerequisite

* Freshmen who participate in the Learning Clusters must test into English 160.

How does the program benefit me?

Participating in a small community of students provides a unique opportunity to experience individual attention in the midst of a large university. By joining the program, you will:

  • Enroll in the same set of three classes as a group of no more than 25 students
  • Meet other freshmen and make new friends
  • Study with top professors interested in your success
  • Form and join in study groups
  • Attend events on campus and in Chicago with other freshmen

L A S   F A L L   S E M E S T E R   L E A R N I N G   C L U S T E R S

Cluster #1 Exploring Religious Thought and Life
What is the significance of religion in our lives? This cluster features courses by a professor who studies the intersections of philosophy, literature and religion, and by a writer who specializes in Buddhist and Christian thought. Students will come to understand more deeply the perspectives of Catholicism and other religions on current life issues.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Liberal Arts and Religious Beliefs
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
CST 120 - Catholic Thought - An Introduction

Cluster #2 Criminals, Criminal Justice, and Their Representation in Literature and Film
(Cluster #2 is closed)

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Crime, the Criminal, and Cultural Production
ENGL 160 - English Composiiton I
CRJ 101 - Introduction to the Criminal Justice System

Cluster #3 Race and Gender in the Mass Media and the American Political System
This cluster will study race and gender issues in our political system. Political Science 101 addresses the political issues, political parties, branches of government, and electoral processes leading to the formation of government, including the role of gender/racial issues in the american political system. In LAS 100, students consider/analyze how women and minorities have been represented in the media. ENGL 160 focuses on improving students' writing ability, and will consider how academic writing relates to identity, race, gender, and social class.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Race and Gender in the Mass Media
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
POLS 101- Introduction to American Politics

Cluster #4 From Odysseus to James Bond: Classical and Modern Heroes
Where does the modern movie hero come from? In this cluster, we will compare the heroes and heroines in classical literature to their counterparts in contemporary cinema. We will examine the roles heroes play in Western culture, how our need for heroes and heroines has evolved, and how cinema has modified the contribution made by myth and fantasy to our current views of heroism.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Constructing Heroism in Film
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
CL 102 - Introduction to Classical Literature

Cluster #5 Magic Realism in Latin American Film and Literature
In this cluster, we will study Latin some examples of American literature and film which use fantasy and 'magic' to critique Latin American politics, such as Like Water for Chocolate and One Hundred Years of Solitude, and other novels from writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Isabel Allende. All readings will be in English. SPAN 190 meets the Cultural Diversity Requirement.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Introduction to Magic Realism
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
SPAN 190 Latin American Literature in Translation (Course meets the Cultural Diversity Requirement)

Cluster #6 Is It Real or Imagined? Perception and Reality Across the Disciplines
Recent movies such as Vanilla Sky, The Others, Eyes Wide Shut and The Truman Show leave us asking whether our experiences are real, a feeling compounded for many by the media and the increasing role of technology in our lives. In this cluster, students will consider these questions from the perspective of a neuroscientist and from that of two professors in the humanities.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Accessing the Science in Neuroscience: A Primer for Undergraduates
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
ER 100 - Perception and Romanticism

Cluster #7 Who Are You? Race, Ethnicity, and Your Culture
his cluster focuses on questions of ethnic identity with special emphasis on African-American identity and on cultural and ethnic identities of past peoples. Students will take the introductory course in African American Studies, a required course in English Composition that will focus on writing skills and questions of ethnicity, and an archaeology course that concentrates on the many ways that people use artifacts (material objects) to express themselves as members of social groups and individuals. Course AAST 100 meets the Cultural Diversity Requirement.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: The World of Archeology
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
AAST 100 - Intro to African American Studies (Course meets the Cultural Diversity Requirement)

Cluster #8 The Human Side of Chemistry (I)
Cluster #8 is closed)

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Life and Times of Important Chemists
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
CHEM 101 - Preparatory Chemistry

Cluster #9 The Human Side of Chemistry (II)
Do you know who Alice Hamilton was? This learning cluster will enroll students in a section of general chemistry and will also explore the pioneering work of Alice Hamilton in toxicology and chemistry. Students will also learn about Hamilton's role in Chicago history and the history of environmental chemistry.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: A Chicago Chemist and Her Life
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
CHEM 112 - General Chemistry

Cluster #10 Gangs, the Media, and the Method of Social Science
This cluster compares how research looks at gangs versus how they are portrayed by the media. It will examine the use of social science and critical methods to get past the stereotypes promoted about gangs.

LAS 100 - Freshman Seminar: Gangs and Social Science
ENGL 160 - English Composition I
CRJ 102 - Foundations of Criminal Justice: Gangs and the Media


For information on Learning Clusters, please contact Jeff Gore.

back to College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

UIC Home Page