Spring 2019 4 Thursdays – 497-407: Chicago 2050: What It’s Like to Live, Work, and Visit Chicago in the Future

Meeting Days/Time
Thursdays from 6:25 to 9:05 pm
Maryam Heidaripour (Undergraduate Education – User-Centered Design) (maryam@id.iit.edu)
Appropriate Majors
All interested students are welcome.

Chicago is at the crossroads: a leader in innovation, finance, technology and culture on the one hand, and plagued by violent crimes, failing schools, income inequality and segregation on the other hand. Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) has recently unveiled ON TO 2050, a comprehensive regional plan toward a preferred future. The question is what does preferable future mean, for whom, and who decides. By preferring particular realities over others, policy makers are mobilizing certain values and ideals, while ignoring other possibilities and voices. Since the stakes are so high and every individual is impacted by the decisions made, there is an opportunity to critically reflect on the visions that are put forward by policy-makers and propose new visions that are more sensitive to the diverse fabric of our society.

In this IPRO project, instead of predicting the future, we aim to practice future-making knowledgeably and with responsibility. We will review the Chicago’s 2050 vision with a critical lens, examining its ideas in the face of uncertain future shifts, and leveraging opportunities for city assets and communities that are overlooked in the current plan.

Our goal is to create more extensive, inclusive, and resilient possibilities for the future that society should aspire toward.

This IPRO project will offer a mix of lectures, team activities, and round table discussions with local stakeholders. Working in teams, each group will focus on one aspect of the city’s vision, including social, economic, and ecological facets. Teams will analyze Chicago’s current plan to uncover the normative underpinnings. For example, what types of lives, social relations, and notions of production are envisioned, and how does the vision relate to equity in relation to different social groups, distant regions, and the nonhuman world. We then reformulate the vision of Chicago 2050 with a new set of goals, strategies and roles. Using a wide variety of media including prints, videos, installations and public performances, teams will create real-life experiences as if the future has arrived, to communicate what it is like to live, work and visit the city in the future. The goal is to enable a deeper engagement in thought and discussion about the possibilities.

Students in this course will:

  • Develop skills for forecasting and social innovation
  • Learn how to apply tools to generate creative scenarios
  • Recognize the power of images of the future and how they influence today’s society
  • Develop a basic understanding of the fundamentals of diversity and inclusion
  • Engage in productive collaboration with teammates from multiple disciplines.
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