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UIC’s Centers for Cultural Understanding and Social Change (CCUSC, or the Centers) invite you to connect. Born from student and community activism, the Centers serve as spaces of learning, engagement, and advocacy for the entire university. Through their efforts, the Centers promote the well-being of students who are members of marginalized groups, amplify their sense of belonging, and contribute to the intellectual and cultural life of the campus in a variety of ways.

The CCUSCs offer several opportunities for students enrolled in UIC’s First-Year Seminars to engage. Here are a few:

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Spaces of Belonging Heading link

Recognizing that new students need less formal and more intimate ways of connecting with their peers and learning about UIC, the Centers have created community spaces where students can cultivate a sense of belonging and begin to find a place to call home:

Campus Advocacy Network (CAN)

Program flyer describing dates and time of event

September Storytelling Events
September 9th, 16th & 23rd @ 3pm

CCUSC Virtual Meet & Greet

Woman in yellow dress with a laptop meeting with people online

Welcome students to campus, talk about how centers approach issues around structural inequalities, identities and social justice.

CCUSC Virtual Open Houses

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Every semester; find out about the work that we do, meet others who are involved with the Center, and learn about how students can connect with us.

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Spaces To Gather, Study, Learn, Rest Heading link

The Centers provide physical places for programs, meetings, events, and for students to study, gather, eat their lunches, or peruse books and resources; student organizations can also reserve space for their events or meetings. You can visit in two ways:

In-Person Visits

students from the african american cultural center gathering at a table and talking

Include visits to the Centers’ physical space as a part of your coursework. Some of the Centers have programming space where you can hold a class. Contact individual Centers ahead of time to schedule group or class visits, or to inquire about meeting in a Center space. Because many classes may be making such requests in a given semester, you may also want to consider inviting someone from a Cultural Center to talk to your class.

Website Visits

monitor showcasing the latino cultural centers webpage

For the Fall 2020 semester and for as long as the Centers are operating remotely, consider including visits to the Center websites as part of your coursework.

  • Women's Leadership and Resource Center

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Attend Our Public Programs Heading link

Left Photo: Gathering of students and community members at a Disability Cultural Center Open House. Top Middle: Students attedning a program at the African American Cultural Center event. Bottom Middle: Students attending event hosted by the Asian American cultural center, Right photo: Students at the Arab American Cultural Center open house

The Centers offer a variety of programs – film series, conversation series, lectures, workshops, etc. – that are informed by academic scholarship as well as by current political and cultural concerns. Students are encouraged to think about how the Centers’ programs address issues that are not necessarily explored in their chosen areas of study in order to deepen their engagement in the respective communities’ collective life and support the various struggles for liberation. Whether or not students are undecided about their majors, the Centers’ programs can spark curiosity about disciplines and courses that they may wish to explore during their time at UIC.

All of our programs are free, open to the entire UIC community, and committed to accessibility (many events have live captioning, and we welcome other requests).  For the Fall 2020 semester, our programs will be virtual.

While each Center’s programs focus on issues and topics that connect to the communities and identities they represent, we are deeply committed to intersectional approaches, and our programming often overlaps. For example, UIC’s African American Cultural Center offers programs that focus on all aspects of Black life. However, the Gender & Sexuality Center may also offer programs that focus on transgender people of color, while the Women’s Leadership & Resource Center might create programs focused on Black women, and the Latino Cultural Center has offered programs on how environmental and climate injustices affect people of color. For this reason, it is a good idea to encourage students to learn about and attend events at more than one Center.

  • Check the Centers’ websites or sign up for our email listservs to keep track of everything the Centers are doing for the semester. You can also assign your students to follow the Centers on social media and encourage them to build a relationship with Centers of their choice.
  • Consider requiring students to attend Center programs that align with the focus of a particular class, for credit or extra credit.
  • With enough notice and planning, the Centers can work with you to bring a guest speaker to your class.
  • You (and your department) can also cosponsor a public program.
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Join our Tours, Dialogues, and Conversation Series Heading link

Left photo: Author of a book leads a dialogue hosted by the WLRC. Top Middle: Planting of the tree of remembrance. Student addresses the crowd. Bottom Middle: Dessert Discussions Series held at the GSC. Right Photo: Facilitator at the LCC leads a dialogue while a group of students looks and listens.


Whether students are new to college or to this university, the Centers provide important learning opportunities for engaging issues of cultural difference, inequality, identity, and social justice from the perspectives of marginalized groups. Dialogue and conversations give students a ready entry point to consider the importance of histories, politics, cultural identities, and social experiences in shaping their own identities and those of their colleagues at UIC.

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Explore Opportunities for Academic, Leadership and Career Development Heading link

Top Left: Students posing for the camera at the annual bowl-a-thon event. Bottom Left: Students looking through the LCC's archives. Middle: CCUSC staff members at the involvement fair. Right: Student worker at AARCC in front of a camera at AARCC's Open house.

Some first-year students have already decided what they want to study, and of course some are still exploring. For each situation, introducing students to the Cultural Centers will help them understand the many ways that their academic, cultural, and social interests intersect with the work we do, and give them spaces to explore those interests.

Consider inviting Center staff to your course to talk about how they became involved with the Centers, why getting involved with the Centers will enhance the students’ academic experience at UIC, and the ways students can get involved. Here are some of our initiatives:

CCUSC Heritage Garden Internship Program

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Participate in Advocacy Heading link

Left: Students and community marching during the Youth Climate Strike. Middle: Speaker at ArabAMCC's Yemeni Lives at the Intersection of War and Discrimination event. Top Right: Folks gathering after the signing of the RISE bill. Bottom Right: The first time the LGBTQ  flag was displayed and flown on UIC's campus.

The Centers are important sites of advocacy and institutional change at the university.  The CCUSCs provide incoming students with direct support, connecting them with resources or helping them think through situations they are experiencing; they host and support meetings with student and community groups who are planning educational events and collective action; and they provide ways to get involved and learn about social justice activism at UIC and beyond.

If you have questions, or are interested in working with any of the Cultural Centers beyond the first-year seminar, feel free to contact us to discuss possibilities:

Natalie Bennett, WLRC/CAN Director,;

Cynthia Blair, AACC Director,;

Rosa Cabrera, LCC Director,;

Margaret Fink, DCC Director,;

Mark Martell, AARCC Director,;

Mark Martell, GSC Interim-Director,;

Zeina Zaatari, ArabAmCC Director,;

Charu Thakral, Interim Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Engagement,;