Bridging the Divide: A Public Service Leadership Program


The election of 2016 exposed deep fault lines in our country. Now more than ever, communities nationwide have become islands of red and blue, with little dialogue or interaction between them. Bridging the Divide, a new program at the IOP in partnership with Eureka College, is an attempt to address this growing chasm and promote a deeper understanding of and between urban and rural communities.

Over the Winter and Spring Quarter, first and second year students from the University of Chicago and Eureka College will spend time in each community, exploring local concerns and political attitudes. We hope to promote honest, open dialogue. Learn more about the inaugural Bridging the Divide student cohort here.

Ten students from each school have been selected to participate. Participants will meet three times; once in Chicago, Eureka and, finally, in Springfield. The focus will be on three challenges facing both urban and rural communities, albeit in different ways—the need for good jobs; access to education needed to succeed; and the drug crisis. We’ll meet with government officials, practitioners and local residents in an effort to understand the impact of these issues and search for common solutions. We also will observe focus groups in each community to get a richer sense of voter attitudes and the cultural divide.

Students interested in this program should be ready to engage in dialogue and be open to challenging their own perspectives.

Timeline & Requirements

Interested students must meet the following requirements:

  • Must be an enrolled 1st or 2nd year undergraduate student
  • Must have an interest and willingness to engage in dialogue with individuals from diverse political, racial, and economic backgrounds
  • Availability for all program dates in 2018:
    • January 12-13 (Chicago, IL)
    • February 23-24 (Eureka, IL)
    • April 6-7 (Springfield, IL)


Please contact Crystal Coats, Director of Civic Engagement, at, if you have any questions.