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Urban Cohort Program

America's future walks through the doors of our urban classrooms every day.

The Urban Cohort is:


Exposure to urban perspectives via textbooks and lectures is not effective. Miami’s program emphasizes face-to-face interactions and collaboration with community members. Students don’t just serve the community, they become part of it. 

Supportive of Student Needs

Miami students often come from middle-class backgrounds. They are bright, socially conscious, and eager to make a difference, but many lack experience and confidence. So Miami’s program provides opportunities such as tutoring in urban schools and urban immersions (students spend a weekend in an inner city neighborhood working with community leaders on volunteer projects before they begin student teaching. Once students begin student teaching an interdisciplinary team of community, university, and school-based individuals provides mentoring.


Teaching is a situated practice, and the goal is to produce a new kind of teacher who is both teacher scholar and urban scholar. Students work and live in neighborhoods such as Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine area. They student teach in schools such as Cincinnati’s Rothenberg Elementary or Chicago’s Michele Clark High School. And community members are not just guest speakers, but co-collaborators.

Program Timeline

Year One

  • Weekend Urban Immersion (see details below)
  • Socio-Cultural Studies in Education-U
  • 25 hours of community engagement in community-based agencies
  • Critically reading/participating in “texts”

Year Two

  • Urban Cohort Seminars
  • Assigned public school student mentor
  • Urban field placements

Year Three

  • Urban Cohort Seminars
  • Assigned Community Mentor
  • Cincinnati Summer Immersion (see details below)

Year Four

  • Urban Cohort Seminars
  • Assigned Teacher Mentor
  • Urban Ed Senior Capstone
  • Residential Student Teaching Option (see details below)

Immersion Activities

Weekend Urban Immersion


  • Community Journey
  • Venice on Vine
  • Coalition for the Homeless
  • Reflections



Cincinnati Summer Immersion

  • Three weeks in internship house
  • ½ days in community agencies
  • ½ days in schools interning with community school resource personnel
  • Course on the American city

Residential Student Teaching

  • Live and teach in Over-the-Rhine
  • Service Learning Class

The Urban Cohort is proud to be collaborating with the Center for Community Engagement in Over-the-Rhine as well as the following on-campus organizations: Office of Community Engagement, the Social Action Center, and the Honors and Scholars Advisory Board to further advance this program and provide this opportunity to all Miami University students.

Urban Plunge

During the Urban Plunge students will:

  • Immerse themselves overnight in a vibrant, urban community
  • Discuss and reflect on issues of homelessness, privilege, and oppression
  • Discover Over-the-Rhine's long-standing tradition of artistic expression and architectural beauty
  • Engage with community organizers
  • Volunteer with local non-profit organizations

What an Urban Plunge is Like

The Urban Plunge is a 24-hour experience that allows students to see and serve.  The Over-the-Rhine (a Cincinnati neighborhood) Urban Plunge introduces Miami students to race and class disparity and encourages them to work constructively through these issues by becoming active in their community. Students also gain an appreciation for the vibrant community that exists in Over-the-Rhine, particularly the tradition of architectural beauty and artistic expression. Participating students tour the neighborhood, serve food in a homeless shelter, work on low-income housing rehabilitation and meet with community organizers and residents.

Earlier this semester, 10 students participated in the first Urban Plunge of the year.  After traveling by van to Over the Rhine, we took a walking tour of the neighborhood, learning about OTR’s history.  They then we had dinner with a member of the Speaker’s Bureau of the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless.  He recounted his experience of moving in and out of homelessness and reflected on some of his struggles.   The group then retired for the night, reflecting on our reactions to what we had seen and heard and engaged in an introspective look at what values, norms, and biases we bring with us.

On Saturday morning, after a breakfast of coffee and homemade pastries at Coffee Emporium, we headed over to volunteer with Over the Rhine Community Housing, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing services for low-income residents.  Half of the group worked to flip an apartment by sweeping and mopping the floors while the other worked to clear an abandoned lot overgrown by weeds, bushes, and trees.  We then made our way to a much-deserved lunch at Findlay Market, a thriving, historic farmers market in the heart of Over the Rhine.

After lunch, we traveled to Peaslee Neighborhood Center to bleach all of the tables, chairs, cots, and cribs used in their Child Development Center.  The experience came to a close with the group engaging in some guided reflection regarding the Immersion experience, the Over the Rhine community, and urban issues in general. 

Application Process and Timeline

Students apply to the Urban Cohort spring semester of their freshman year.

  1. Information Session (March, TBA)
  2. Complete an online application (applications due April 5, 2024).
  3. Submit the names of the two people who could serve as references for you (due April 12, 2024). Please send to: with the subject line "Urban Cohort references"
  4. Virtual or in-person interview with a team of faculty, our urban cohort partners, and alumni (April 20, 2024)
  5. Notification of acceptance (April 22, 2024)
  6. Orientation (April 26, 2024, 4-5pm)
  7. Participation in Urban Cohort Spring Retreat (April 27, 2024, 10-2 in Cincinnati, transportation is provided)

Apply to the Urban Cohort



Miami receives highest Presidential Award for Community Service in Early Childhood Education

Miami University was one of only five recipients out of 641 eligible schools in the nation to receive the Presidential Award in the 2012 President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll.

Miami's honor recognizes service programs in the area of early childhood education.

The award is the highest federal recognition a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning, and civic engagement. It is given by the U. S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency.

The Urban Cohort was one of the four major programs that contributed to Miami's national recognition

Other programs named include the Talawanda-Miami Partnership, Butler County Success and Miami Connections.

Honorees were recognized on March 12, 2012 at a special conference of the American Council on Education held in Los Angeles, Calif., for service in the July 2010-June 2011 academic year. Miami estimates 12,920 Miami students performed 387,600 hours of service in many areas in those 12 months.

“Notable programs include the Urban Cohort Program, with field experiences in social service agencies, churches, community-based organizations, and government agencies. “

Reframe Podcast

Urban Cohort Inspires Radical Empathy and Social Change

Exploring the inner workings of the Urban Cohort, an action-oriented program that exposes college students to urban perspectives through high-need schools and community organizations. Here, experiential learning is grounded in community life in very real ways.

Contact Us

Department of Teaching, Curriculum, and Educational Inquiry
401 McGuffey Hall
Oxford, OH 45056