North Park University - Chicago North Park University - Chicago
North Parker Magazine Winter 2018

Chicago Is Our Classroom

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Students In New Catalyst 606__ Program Gain In-Depth Learning In Chicago

Wednesdays at North Park often mean fewer students on campus. That’s because North Park’s new Catalyst 606__ program takes students beyond North Park and across the city, from seeing brain dissections at Northwestern Memorial Hospital to retracing the steps of a 19th century union laborer along the streets of Chicago’s historic Pullman neighborhood.

For students in Catalyst 606__, Chicago is their classroom, says Provost Michael Emerson, who spearheaded this unique Chicago-based learning for North Parkers.

“Catalyst offers tangible opportunities to see firsthand the diverse fabric of the city through its residents, walking tours, museums, performances, and local dining,” says the program’s director, Richard Kohng.

Catalyst 606__ is North Park’s innovative, Chicago-based curriculum that redesigns the University’s weekly schedule to encourage students to learn outside the classroom—and in the city—at least two Wednesdays per semester. During Catalyst courses, students explore the city during staff- and faculty-guided group excursions. Catalyst courses are all credit-bearing core classes.

The program places students in cohorts according to academic interest. In addition to classwork, the cohorts are dispatched to various community-based companies and organizations, where students do real-world work while gaining valuable career experience. North Park’s Chicago setting (the 606 is a nod to the first three digits of all Chicago ZIP codes) provides a rich variety of work sites, from nonprofit foundations to Fortune 500 companies.

The Catalyst Hub is the command center for the entire Catalyst initiative, including Catalyst courses, the Catalyst Semester, and Catalyst on Campus.

Ideally, by graduation, students will have gained not only hands-on experience in their chosen field, but also real-life connections and a broad network of contacts in their industry.

Learn more about Catalyst 606__ at

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