One requirement of the B.A. program in Environmental and Urban Studies is completion of either an internship or a field placement (hereafter “internships”) or Chicago Studies Certificate. This hands-on experience is intended to help students hone their academic focus (B.A. and beyond) as well as increasing their preparation for employment after graduation.

Many types of internships/field placements can satisfy the program’s requirement, for example:

  • Working at an environmental law firm in New Mexico with a focus on indigenous communities…
  • Measuring and addressing lead levels in Englewood (about a mile away from campus)…
  • Working for an advocacy organization on water shortage issues in Mumbai, India…

Students should consult UChicago Handshake for internship opportunities and Chicago Studies for more information about the certificate program. You can also schedule an appointment with Career Advancement to see what internships are available to you, and receive help with your resume and cover letter. Career Advancement's walkin-in hours are Mondays-Fridays from 3-4:45pm, or you can schedule an appointment with Sylvia Atsalis online through UChicago Handshake.

Internship information and program requirements

Environmental and Urban Studies majors who plan to do internships this school year or summer should contact Julie Erdmann to learn more about the internship program requirements and placement process.

Upon completion of their internship, students are required to fill out an evaluation form (including a brief itemization of expenses) and prepare a 500-750 word reflection on their experience. The current deadline for the form and reflection paper is October 5. (Download the evaluation form.) Please send to Julie Erdmann via email (


Environmental and Urban Studies majors are required to complete an internship before graduation. Most often, the internships are undertaken during the summer between third and fourth years, but there are other possibilities, and Chicago-area internships can be done while enrolled in courses.

For any additional questions about internships, please contact Julie Erdmann.

Open Internships

To search and apply for open internships, visit UChicago Handshake.

City of Chicago Office of the Mayor Apply on Handshake
Deadline: October 28, 2018
Chicago, IL
Open to all undergraduates
2019 Jeff Metcalf Academic Year Policy Intern, Sustainability and Resilience

Learn how city policy is formulated and initiatives are implemented while interning with the Mayor’s Policy Team. Interns will work with Mayor’s Office senior staff in analyzing potential city programs and initiatives with a focus on sustainability and resilience, and will support the city’s Sustainability and Resilience Teams in developing near- and long-term plans and policies and implementing related programs. Policy interns will have the opportunity to: research programs and policies and advise as to whether they could benefit Chicago; research best practices in other cities and make recommendations on implementation; assist in developing new city initiatives and generating new ideas; and assist in staffing ongoing and new projects related to mayoral priorities related to sustainability and resilience. Please note that an intern will be fingerprinted after he/she is selected and before he/she starts work.

Apply here

Program on Global Environment, College Research Fellow
Deadline: October 28, 2018
UChicago Campus
Project: Does Main Street Have a Future? Reconsidering Retail in the Era of Chain Stores and E-Commerce
Principal Supervisor: Professor Emily Talen, Division of Social Sciences
Open to all undergraduates, but priority will be given to student majoring in Environmental and Urban Studies or members of the PGE-SARC

Project Description

Neighborhood-based retail used to play an active role in the life of urban neighborhoods. In many cities, a variety of factors, including most recently online shopping, have contributed to the long decline of small, independent retail establishments, rendering, according to some critics, Jane Jacobs’ vision of activated street life via small business ownership a nostalgic illusion. Scholars, however, have long recognized that neighborhood-based services are essential for neighborhood stability. Neighborhoods that have been able to provide local services and facilities – small groceries and other outlets serving daily life needs – have been shown to be more stable, often with a higher sense of community and an ability to promote social networks of interdependence.

What is the perspective of small retailers on these changes? To better understand the perspective of retailers, we are conducting a survey that evaluates the current status and viability of existing retail in Chicago that is small, independent, and neighborhood-based. So far, 35 surveys have been completed.

The goal of the survey is to elucidate the current status and future prospects of what has been known as “main street,” assessing varying approaches that are now being attempted in an effort to sustain neighborhood-serving retail, and gaining a better understanding of how the successes and failures of these varied approaches can be evaluated. Is neighborhood-based retail still viable?

Student Roles and Responsibilities

Students will visit pre-selected stores throughout Chicago to conduct interviews of shop-owners or employees. The interview questionnaire is short and focuses on store owner/employee perspectives on business climate, neighborhood context, and policies that positively or negatively impact their business. Students will be expected to summarize their findings.

Students will need to have an open-ness to approaching small business owners/employees and asking them questions about their business and their neighborhoods. Students will not be asked to enter any business that they are not 100% comfortable with. All business locations are close to CTA train line stops. Students will be given CTA passes for travel.


This project requires students who are energetic, personable, can navigate on the CTA, and are not shy about approaching small business owners or employees. Students should have some familiarity with Chicago. The ideal student for this project is one who is enthusiastic about urbanism and the role of small business in street life and neighborhood quality. No technical skills are required.

Read more and apply here

Program on Global Environment, College Research Fellow
Deadline: October 28, 2018
UChicago Campus
Project: OpenReblock
Principal Investigator/Supervisor: Luis Bettencourt, Pritzker Director, Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation and Professor in Ecology and Evolution
Open to all undergraduates, but priority will be given to student majoring in Environmental and Urban Studies or members of the PGE-SARC

Project Description

At the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation we tackle the big questions of our collective urban futures through research and development of transformative methods and approaches.

OpenReblock ( is a data platform that brings together the best of local people’s knowledge in informal settlements with science and digital technology to create a collaborative environment for residents and their local governments towards designing and planning better and faster sustainable development outcomes.

Student Roles and Responsibilities

We are looking for a student who can help us improve existing python code on the spatial analysis and transformation of these neighborhoods. 


Requirements are python coding, geospatial analysis and mapping.

Learn more

See more on our data tool here.

Learn more about the Mansueto Institute for Urban Innovation here.

Read more and apply here

Opportunities for Graduating Students