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Latin American Phoenix Scholars

The Latin American Phoenix Scholars program brings together top students studying across Latin America. This opportunity gives students an early taste of an exceptional college experience in a cohort-based model.

Selected students are invited to participate in a remotely taught online Summer Session course free of charge and engage in cohort-specific programming. The program is comprised of 2 parts:

  1)  Phoenix Week, a one-week series of workshops and activities; and
  2)  3-week academic course remotely taught online. 

For Summer 2021, Phoenix Week will be conducted online and is designed to introduce students to UChicago, prepare them for college-level work, provide insight to the highly selective admissions process, and allow for students in the program to get to know each other prior to the start of class. During Phoenix Week, students should expect to be engaged in work or online activities 2-4 hours per day.

Following Phoenix Week, students will spend 3 weeks immersed in an online academic, credit-bearing course. These courses typically require 5-6 hours of work daily, comprised of engagement with faculty, teaching assistants, or peers, and also including time spent on homework, problem sets, papers, or other independent work. Students will be graded for their work and receive a grade for the course.

The academic course selected for Summer 2021 year is “What Should Democracy Mean Today?” Latin American Phoenix Scholars will take this course with selected UWC Global Academy students. A course description along with additional details follow at the bottom of this page.

Additional programming hosted by this scholarship program, including admissions-based workshops, is required of all selected students.

Application Requirements

Applications will be accepted online beginning in December, and the deadline is March 1, 2021. Students who attend high school in Latin America, who are at least 14 years old, and who are currently in their junior year of high school are invited to apply. 

Applicants must complete the Summer Session Application, and all the related requirements which can be reviewed in the How To Apply section. Students who wish to apply for this program should select it as their first-choice program.

Application materials include:

  • Online application
  • Transcript (official or unofficial)
  • Writing sample
  • At least one teacher recommendation
  • At least one parent confirmation email received
  • Counselor nomination

Applicants to this program do not need to complete the rest of the Scholarship Application or provide financial documentation for their application, unless they wish to be considered for other Summer Session course offerings.

Applicants will be asked to respond to the following essay questions in the application:

     -    Why did you choose the particular program/courses for which you have applied? How are they related to your current interests and future plans? Please be as specific as possible, and make sure your response covers each of the courses you elected. (Limit: 500 words)
     -    Chicago is a city of diversity and each one of our 77 neighborhoods has its own unique culture. Tell us what your culture means to you. How will this program impact your life and your community? (Limit: 500 words)
     -    There are more than 4,500 colleges and universities across the United States. Why would you like to spend your summer with the University of Chicago? What about our academic community excites you the most? (Limit: 250 words)

In addition to the Summer Session application, applicants should seek a nomination from their current high school counselor at their school as part of the application process. The Nomination Form should be completed by the counselor. Any questions should be directed to Alejandra Campos at

The deadline to apply is March 1, 2021. Rolling admissions is not offered for this program. There is no application fee to apply. 

Tuition & Fees

All course costs and related fees for the Latin American Scholars are covered for all selected students. Students will need to have access to wifi and provide their own device or technology to take the course for Summer 2021.

Course Dates

JUNE 14 – JULY 9, 2021
Phoenix Week: June 14 - June 18 (Required of all participants)
Class starts: June 21
Class concludes: July 8
Closing session: July 9

Course Details

What Should Democracy Mean Today? 
Daily Course Expectations:

  • Monday – Friday, 6 hours of daily work
  • Mix of synchronous and asynchronous work (see definitions here)

Course Code:  PLSC 10500 96   
Instructor: Taimur Reza

Course Description: Discussions related to the issue of the crises of democracy are seemingly undergoing an overhaul. Familiar themes of democratic crises—e.g., erosion of democratic institutions; decline in popular support for democracy; religious extremism—are gradually making way for a new set of anxieties. This course is designed to explore two broad themes of this kind.

Providing first an overview of democracy by way of reflecting on four major democratic models, the course will proceed to take up our first theme, comprising three separate trends: the rise of right-wing populism; the emergence of social media; and the spawning of conspiracism. Disparate as they are in considerable ways, these trends share a crucial trait—their success is invariably undergirded by a robust popular support, mimicking what in democratic discussion we call “participation”. Paradoxically, scholars of diverse orientation have cautioned us against the pernicious effects they have on democracy. Our second theme concerns the problem of globalization and global warming, raising especially the question whether democracy in its conventional sense—tethered to the notion of sovereign nation-states—is any longer viable in the face of an impending climate apocalypse? Scholars like David Held are calling instead for “cosmopolitan democracy,” while Latour implores us to go beyond democracy's anthropocentric biases.

By way of reflecting on these emerging threats to democracy, we will try to explore—through a number of collective and fun exercises—the critical question of what should democracy look like in our present time?