Loyola University Chicago

Center for Urban Research and Learning

Opportunities for Freshmen

Engaging in innovative social change research at the Center for Urban Research and Learning

Want to learn more about grassroots activists working to create a more equitable Chicago?  Want to get connected with Chicago communities?  Interested in becoming a team member on a university-community project that has a direct impact on Chicago communities?  Check out the Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL), an innovative, non-traditional research center at Loyola that engages undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, and community partners in social change research projects in many different areas.  Students at CURL have examined the impact of Wal-Mart on Westside Chicago businesses; participated in a three-year evaluation of Chicago’s homelessness prevention efforts; worked on early childhood education policy; assisted in domestic violence prevention; and evaluated youth leadership programs

Few universities have centers like CURL where students can be part of research teams where they learn research skills, become a co-authors of a research reports, work side-by-side with community activists, and get a hands-on understanding of how change really takes place in urban communities.  There are a number of ways in which you can get involved at CURL. 


  •  UNIV 102: As an introduction to community-driven change, CURL is likely to offer a UNIV 102 course in Spring 2014, “Chicago’s Grassroots Engines of Social Change.”   This will be taught by Dr. Phil Nyden, the Director of CURL, and will involve CURL staff and students in giving freshmen an introduction to grassroots activism and change-oriented research.   A number of community activists will also be talking about their work during the semester.


  • CURL Undergraduate Volunteer Opportunities and Paid Fellowships: Undergraduates can get engaged at CURL either through volunteering to be on a research team or applying for a paid fellowship at CURL.  Contact Dr. Nyden or Mr. VanZytveld (contact information below) if you are interested in volunteering.  Competitive fellowships for sophomores, juniors, and seniors provide stipends of $1200 per semester.


  • Urban Studies Minor:  CURL coordinates a six-course interdisciplinary minor that has both a general and sustainability track.   In the capstone Urban Studies Seminar, students meet with political leaders, professional practitioners, and community leaders; they also work on one of CURL’s hands-on research teams.


  • CURL Friday Morning Seminar:  Most every Friday morning during the semester, CURL offers an informal seminar where students and faculty learn more about emerging issues in the city, policy research, new community grassroots initiatives.  These are very informal; undergraduates are strongly encouraged to participate.  It is a great way to meet other CURL students; we always have plenty of bagels and cream cheese to go around.  These are generally held in Cuneo Hall 417 at CURL. 


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Volunteering, taking UNIV 102, or just coming by to our Friday Morning Seminars are great ways of getting introduced to CURL.   If you are interest in talking with CURL staff, feel free to contact either Dr. Nyden (pnyden@luc.edu) or David Van Zytveld (dvanzyt@luc.edu), CURL’s Associate Director.