Local Politics & Environmental Sustainability


$595; $100 deposit due at time of registration


June 21-24 (Tuesday - Friday), 10am - 4:30 pm CST

Program Registration


Registration is open until filled. Register now to secure a spot! Final payments are due by Friday, June 3. Please view our policies and resources page, including our COVID-19 vaccine policy, before registration. 


Mies Campus

Program Description

"Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."

Report of the World Commission on Environment and Development: Our Common Future (1987)

Since this most-famous definition of sustainability was introduced in 1987, humanity has learned a great deal about the challenges we face. We have also learned a great deal about possible solutions. But have we learned how to turn those solutions from ideas into realities? As international organizations and national governments try and sometimes fail, hope for future generations depends more and more on what cities, towns, villages, and neighborhoods can do.

This program focuses on local responses to the global problems that we will need to solve if sustainable development is to become a reality. Each day, students will explore a different issue of global importance as it impacts their city, neighborhood, town, or village. Students will do independent or small-group research on the issue of the day and report their findings in live, online sessions that connect them with the other students in the program—here in Chicago and wherever our participating students reside.


Expert presentations:

Each day starts with students viewing a presentation by an expert on the issue of the day. These experts may be university professors; local government officials; leaders of community groups and non-governmental organizations; or recent university graduates beginning careers in the field.

Each presentation will conclude with an assignment for that day’s research.

Daily research projects:

There will be two types of options for daily research projects. Students will choose the one most appropriate for their situation, or combine the two if they wish.

  • Fieldwork—Such as interviews, surveys, in-person observations, or participation in events
  • “Desktop” research—Such as reading policy documents, case studies, news stories, and working with datasets

Next-day research reports:

During the first hour of the Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Friday sessions, students or a group of students will present their research findings from the previous day’s assignment. These will be short talks (approximately 10 minutes) followed by group discussion.

Schedule (subject to change based on availability of presenters):

Day 1: Globalization and Sustainability: Big Concepts, Big Challenges, Real Lives

Research question: Has globalization made your neighborhood more or less sustainable?

Day 2: Innovations for Sustainability

Research question: How do new technologies or new ways of doing things affect the environment in your area?

Day 3: Local Government and Environmental Problems

Research question: What programs or policies has your local government implemented to address an environmental problem affecting your community? Have you seen any results?

Day 4: Youth, Activism, and Sustainability

Research question: Are there activities or organizations for young people to address environmental problems in your community? If not, why? If yes, what do they do and how effective are they?

Day 5: “Think Globally; Act Locally”—Lessons Learned About What Works and How to Do Better

A roundtable discussion for all participants

Eligibility and Program Requirements

9th–12th grade (ages 14-17)

Upon registration, students must submit the following in order to confirm enrollment in the program:

  • Program fee
  • Parental consent form, which will be sent by email via DocuSign


This course will be taught by Dr. Jonathan Rosenberg. Jonathan Rosenberg served as chair of the Department of Social Sciences in Lewis College of Science and Letters from 2014 to 2020. Prior to joining the faculty at Illinois Tech, Professor Rosenberg taught briefly at the University of California, Los Angeles; UC Santa Barbara; and Whittier College. From 1993 through 2014 he was a member of the political science faculty of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks. His research interests span a wide range of topics related to political development in Latin America and the Caribbean, including the affects of development aid on stakeholder participation in environmentally sustainable development; Cuban political economy; Mexican parties and interest groups; and accountability in global environmental governance. He has also published on the political economy of oil in Alaska. His fieldwork has taken him to Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, Barbados, Argentina and Washington D.C. He is author and co-author of several papers, book chapters and books on economic and political development and participatory practices in environmental management.