The Community Service Studies (CSS) Minor is a multidisciplinary program that provides a framework for understanding and engaging in critical social issues at the level of community. While the notion of community is increasingly complex, the program explores the nuances of community as defined through the lens of groups with common affiliation, identity, or grievance that may be geographically or nongeographically-based. The curriculum relies heavily on community-based service learning courses and is designed to provide students with a foundation of analytical, reflective, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Through supporting university partnerships with Chicago-area community-based organizations, students gain a local perspective on social justice issues, including those built on race, class, and gender inequalities and other forms of social, economic and political exclusion.
The practice of service is often shaped by particular economic and cultural circumstances related to power, privilege, and identity. A central component of CSS is the importance of viewing communities through an asset lens and thus working to support existing community strengths rather than responding to needs. Students minoring in CSS therefore develop strong critical self-reflection skills that guide them as future leaders in making ethical and socially responsible decisions.