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Program Design

Developing Leadership

For a Time of Transition

ICA-USA 2013 Service-Learning Opportunities

For eight weeks this summer (June 16 - Aug 8) the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA) is offering the Sustainable Community Development Intensive (SCDI). ICA is known globally for its participatory methods for community and organizational development over the past 50 years. 


Students are immersed in creating a learning community where instructors and students alike are engaged in research and learning. Their time revolves a 1:1:3 ratio of one hour of academic work and one hour of sustainable community development methods training for every three hours of community action. The academic work focuses on the intersection between social and environmental justice with training in methods and skills that can be used for engaging all types of community members.  Students are placed in Chicago non-profit grassroots organizations related to their interests. The leaders of these organizations are a part of the accelerate77 program, which is engaged in accelerating sustainable communities in each of Chicago’s 77 communities.

The academic portion of both programs is based on the Oikos Scholars Curriculum of Oklahoma City University: Creating a Just and Equitable Society; Shaping Green, Sustainable Communities; and, Building the Foundations for Peace. While the academic portion of both programs is based on the Oikos Scholars Curriculum, the eight-week program affords an opportunity for more in-depth work on all three modules.

Action-reflection pedagogy integrates the academic curriculum with participants’ community action experience. Community action assignments will offer an opportunity for practical engagement in one of ICA-USA’s leading edge programs: Accelerate 77. Accelerate 77 is a three-year program designed to strengthen the role and positive impact of local action in each of Chicago’s 77 community areas.


These programs will be most beneficial to third-year or beyond students - or students who have demonstrated a degree of maturity and personal discipline. Participants will gain the most from the program if they are prepared to be challenged and have a degree of comfort with ambiguity, diversity and social critique. When possible, we recommend that institutions select a diverse group of students to participate (race/ethnicity, gender, class, etc.).


SCDI is flexibly designed to meet internship, externship, professional practice experience requirements, or credit hours.  The eight-week program is from 9:00-5:00 daily for a total of 320 hours. ICA staff are willing to dialogue with the student and university regarding requirements needed but currently the program is offered as a stand alone training.


The eight week training is $2,000. ICA encourages students to look for scholarship opportunities at their university Civic Engagement Center and will help students seek out other opportunities as needed. 


ICA GreenRise is located in Uptown at 4750 North Sheridan Road, three blocks from the el train and on the Sheridan busline. Lodging at the ICA’s GreenRise building is available beginning July 1st. 


To apply please fill out this form or contact Seva Gandhi at


 Registration for this course ends May 15th

Contextual Academic Curriculum

The academic modules are highly participatory and utilize a multi-media approach. Outside resource people provide additional perspectives and experiences that inform the texts and resource materials. The three academic modules are offered on Monday and Friday of each week. The three academic modules of the contextual curriculum for the eight week program are outlined below.


Methods and Skills Training

Three methodological strands connect students to the community action component:  intellectual methods (conceptual/cognitive), social methods (social analysis, participative planning and organizing social transformation), and reflective practices (journaling, meditation). 


Community Action

Action-reflection pedagogy integrates the academic curriculum with participants’ community action experience.  Community
action assignments offer an opportunity for practical engagement in one of the local program areas of the ICA involvement with other neighborhood-based local action agencies.  Students engage in various activities, such as doing asset mapping of the community or organization they are engaged in, doing community surveys, designing and leading community events, doing asset mapping, participating in community and organizational programs, and evaluating community processes.



The ICA-USA couldn't make the Service Learning program happen without it's generous donors! Consider donating today!

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