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Immersion

UChicago's gothic rooftops against a backdrop of the Chicago skyline

Summer Immersion Programs for High School Students

Immerse yourself in one of your passions and take advantage of the rich educational resources offered by the University and the city of Chicago through our summer Immersion programs for high school students. In these undergraduate-level courses, you will get personalized attention from faculty, researchers, and other professionals who will lead you through labs, workshop discussions, field observations, research projects, and other hands-on activities.

“The biggest advantage of this program is its caliber in teaching. The depth and style of teaching was perfect, keeping a perfect balance of serious work and an exciting atmosphere. Despite having to read tons and writing an essay, I was still eager to jump out of bed and dash into class.” Lawrence X., Western Academy of Beijing, Beijing, China

Whether you’re looking for creative writing workshops, preview courses in STEM fields, or to explore theories of ethics, philosophy, and free expression, the University of Chicago’s summer Immersion courses offer you the opportunity to explore a topic of interest in-depth. 

Eligibility: Current high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors, who are at least 14 years old.

  Session I Session II
Course Dates June 22 - July 09 July 14 - July 30
Move-in June 20 July 12
Move-out July 10 July 31

To search for courses based on your grade level and academic interest, check out the course finder.

Courses in Program

América and Its People, A Survey

From Native songs to the beats of dub and mambo, from poems by Emily Dickinson to the films of Spike Lee, this course offers an introduction to the varied cultures that inhabit the American continent and the social, political, and historical currents that have shaped them. It is not structured regionally or chronologically, but through topics such as storytelling, rhythm, magic, and eating, using diverse approaches drawn from anthropology, history, and the study of art and literature.

Session(s)

Session II

Biology and Its Modern Applications (Session 1)

This course aims at developing the basic concepts that form the crux of life from both structural and functional perspectives. It will cover cellular functioning and organization and the transformation of energy. In addition, concepts of evolution and natural selection will be investigated. The course also introduces the student to the continuity of life from genetic and molecular perspectives. The course will extrapolate to demonstrate how cells communicate through cell signaling and how defects in such communication often lead to diseases.

Session(s)

Session I

Biology and Its Modern Applications (Session 2)

This course aims at developing the basic concepts that form the crux of life from both structural and functional perspectives. It will cover cellular functioning and organization and the transformation of energy. In addition, concepts of evolution and natural selection will be investigated. The course also introduces the student to the continuity of life from genetic and molecular perspectives. The course will extrapolate to demonstrate how cells communicate through cell signaling and how defects in such communication often lead to diseases.

Session(s)

Session II

Biotechnology for the 21st Century (Session 1)

This course is designed to provide a stimulating introduction to the world of biotechnology. Starting with an overview of the basic concepts of molecular biology and genetics that serve as a foundation for biotechnology, the course will segue into the various applied fields of biotechnology. Lectures and some of the corresponding hands on experiments will include microbial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, cloning, bioremediation, medical biotechnology, DNA fingerprinting and forensics.

Session(s)

Session I

Biotechnology for the 21st Century (Session 2)

This course is designed to provide a stimulating introduction to the world of biotechnology. Starting with an overview of the basic concepts of molecular biology and genetics that serve as a foundation for biotechnology, the course will segue into the various applied fields of biotechnology. Lectures and some of the corresponding hands on experiments will include microbial biotechnology, agricultural biotechnology, biofuels, cloning, bioremediation, medical biotechnology, DNA fingerprinting and forensics.

Session(s)

Session II

Collegiate Writing: Awakening into Consciousness (Session 1)

How might we, as individuals and societies, sometimes remain unaware or ignorant? How can our lives – psychological, social, political, and spiritual – be reshaped by awakening from this lack of awareness? What does it mean to achieve true consciousness? This intensive course in analytical writing at the collegiate level will offer a chance to think through these questions and to craft rhetorically effective essays that explore the enduring struggle to understand what it means for us to awaken into consciousness.

Session(s)

Session I

Collegiate Writing: Awakening into Consciousness (Session 2)

How might we, as individuals and societies, sometimes remain unaware or ignorant? How can our lives – psychological, social, political, and spiritual – be reshaped by awakening from this lack of awareness? What does it mean to achieve true consciousness? This intensive course in analytical writing at the collegiate level will offer a chance to think through these questions and to craft rhetorically effective essays that explore the enduring struggle to understand what it means for us to awaken into consciousness.

Session(s)

Session II

Communicating Effectively: Free Expression, Civic Argument, and Public Advocacy

Communication is foundational to the human experience and shapes our lives – personal, professional, and political. Communication skills are also highly correlated with college and professional success: critical thinking, argument, writing, perspective-taking, and research skills are all foundational to a liberal arts education and life beyond college. The objective of this course is to help students develop these essential skills through an introduction to the principles and practices of public discourse: advocacy, argument, and speaking.

Session(s)

Session I

Contagion: Infectious Agents & Diseases (Session 1)

Zika, Ebola, HIV, SARS…in our increasingly globalized and mobile world, infectious diseases can emerge and spread faster than ever before, making epidemics, even pandemics, a real possibility.  That, together with increasing antibiotic resistance, makes understanding where these threats come from and how we can control their spread one of the most urgent issues of our time.  In this three-week course, students will learn about the origin, biology, and evolution of some of the most feared viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Influenza, and lethal bacteria such

Session(s)

Session I

Contagion: Infectious Agents & Diseases (Session 2)

Zika, Ebola, HIV, SARS…in our increasingly globalized and mobile world, infectious diseases can emerge and spread faster than ever before, making epidemics, even pandemics, a real possibility.  That, together with increasing antibiotic resistance, makes understanding where these threats come from and how we can control their spread one of the most urgent issues of our time.  In this three-week course, students will learn about the origin, biology, and evolution of some of the most feared viruses, such as Ebola, HIV, and Influenza, and lethal bacteria such as E.

Session(s)

Session II

Creative Writing

This workshop helps students find their writing voice through a series of creative exercises in fiction, and also in non-fiction and poetry. By the end of the course, each student produces several significant pieces of writing. Daily sessions begin with discussions of reading, followed by afternoon workshops in which students write, revise, and discuss their peers' work.

Session(s)

Session II

Democracy's Discontents

Most would agree that in recent years the very idea of democracy has taken it on the chin, but might we also be learning that democracy has a glass jaw? There have certainly been those over the past two-hundred-plus years who thought so. In this course we will read a number of major thinkers who have called the value and very possibility of democracy into question.

Session(s)

Session II

Developmental Psychology: Theories and Techniques

In just a few short years, infants go from helpless beings who cannot even hold their heads up to walking, talking, thinking people who are able to understand complex games, infer intentions in others, and even engage in reflexive thought (i.e., thinking about thinking). In this class, we will explore this transition by studying major theories of developmental psychology, examining how the mind (and correspondingly, the brain) changes from infancy through adolescence.

Session(s)

Session I

Economics from an Experimental Perspective

A growing field in which the University of Chicago has been a leader, experimental economics uses experimental methods – observing everyday interactions and decisions made by people either in the lab or in the field -- to explore economic questions ranging from how markets and other exchange systems work to what motivates people to make decisions about matters such as conserving environmental resources or donating to charitable causes.

Session(s)

Session II

Explorations in Neuroscience: Neurons, Behavior, and Beyond

How does the brain work, and how do changes in brain structure and function give rise to neurological conditions and deficits? Developing a deeper understanding of the brain has been deemed one of the 21st century’s Grand Challenges, and this course will draw on different research methodologies to begin unraveling one of life’s greatest mysteries.

Session(s)

Session I

Happiness in Western Thought, Art, and Culture

This program will explore “happiness” as a set of ideas, artifacts, and problems in the cultures of Europe and the Americas. We will study works ranging from ancient Greek and Roman philosophy to modern short stories, lyric poems, and films, by authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Epictetus, Seneca, Kant, Mill, Keats, Shelley, and Dickinson.  As we do so, we will examine the different definitions and understandings of happiness put forward by these texts.

Session(s)

Session II

Mathematical and Computational Research in Biological Sciences

Using computation to model and study biological systems is one of the leading edges of current scientific research. In this hands-on exploration of the latest techniques, students will learn how macromolecules, such as DNA, RNA, and proteins, perform their functions and how to visualize and quantify their behavior. This course will provide an introduction to the basics of computer coding for biological data analysis, and how to apply cutting-edge high performance computation to biological questions using the super computers at the University of Chicago Research Computing Center (RCC).

Session(s)

Session I

Media and Image

How do images help or hurt us? How one should go about interpreting images? How do particular kinds of visual media (painting, imitative poetry, tragic drama, photography, film, videogames) affect how we interpret what we see – including how we see ourselves? In this course, through readings, screenings, museum visits, and our own creation and manipulation of images, we will consider how philosophers, writers, artists, and filmmakers have attempted to answer these questions, and consider our own responses.

Session(s)

Session I

Portals to the Past: Studying History Through Chicago's Collections

This course offers a rare opportunity to explore Chicago’s world-class museums, libraries, and collections, as we learn to study history through objects. We will consider the history of slavery through silver teapots and mahogany furniture, the history of science through specimen collecting, the challenges of self-representation through oil-on-canvas portraiture and paper silhouettes, the culture of death through gravestones, and the role of space in religious life.

Session(s)

Session I

Power and the Presidency

What are the foundations of presidential power, and how should it be applied? These questions have been topics of debate from the founding of the U.S., and have become of particular interest in recent years. Focusing on issues of governance, institutional design, and power, this course examines the presidency's development from the time of the Founders to the present, its relationships with courts and Congress, presidential influence in domestic and foreign policymaking, and the ways in which presidents are positioned in a system of separated powers.

Session(s)

Session I

Science, Technology, and the Body

How do new frontiers in science, medicine, and technology impact how we understand what bodies are, what they are becoming, and how they relate to each other? How does culture take up these concepts across time and reflect them back? During this three-week course, we will touch on a variety of issues this question raises, ranging from dolls to robots, machine learning to virtual communities, and from pharmaceuticals to family-making.

Session(s)

Session I

The Global Political Economy: Power, Inequality, and Globalization

Between World War II and the election of Donald Trump, the world economy has undergone a number of crucial transformations. This course introduces students to the trends that have produced today’s political economic order and to useful conceptual tools such as "moral hazard," "tragedy of the commons,” “race to the bottom,” and “collective action problem." Its main argument is that problems in economics are inextricably tied up with politics and the distribution of various kinds of power.

Session(s)

Session II

The Good Life

What makes for a good life and how, if at all, can we know that someone's life--whether ours or another's--is or was a good one? Are there standards for determining whether a life is or was good, or is the answer to the question entirely up for grabs? To get at these questions, we'll read selections from three classical philosophers--Plato, Lucretius, and Epictetus--and one late antique/early medieval figure, Augustine of Hippo.

Session(s)

Session I

The Physics of Climate and Weather

Rarely a month goes by without hearing some news about natural disasters around the world. Whether it is a hurricane, flooding, or a catastrophic wildfire, many of these disasters are associated with extreme weather events or climatic conditions. Increasingly, the conversation then turns towards global climate change and its potential effect on natural disasters.

Session(s)

Session I

The Physics of Stars

Understanding how stars work - what makes them shine - is one of the great accomplishments of 20th-century science. The theory of stellar structure allows us to investigate the interiors of stars, even though what we observe is radiation from their outer atmospheres. This theory also helps us determine how old stars are, how they create heavier nuclei from lighter nuclei in their centers, and how they evolve from birth to death, ending as a white dwarf, a neutron star, or a black hole.

Session(s)

Session II

The Psychology of Learning

Humans’ ability to learn from and teach others is a feature that sets our species apart. Students will investigate learning across the lifespan. What hinders learning and what enhances it?  We will learn about engagement, memory, analogical reasoning, executive function, social-emotional components of learning, mindset, “grit”, insight, stereotype threat and more. Students will observe learning in formal (e.g., classrooms) and informal settings (e.g., museums) and then conduct their own study of learning with human subjects.

Session(s)

Session II