Aequitas Fellows Program in Urban Leadership

Wheaton College Students at DuSable Museum of African-American History

Aequitas Fellows Program in Urban Leadership Requirements

The Aequitas Fellows Program in Urban Leadership is a four-year cohort program that forms students to promote just, sustainable, and flourishing urban communities through academic study, immersive and experiential learning, and Christian service. By the end of the program, fellows will be able to apply theological and social reasoning to urban issues such as poverty, food insecurity, race and ethnicity, housing, public health, education, art, environmental sustainability, employment, and economic development, all within the context of Wheaton’s evangelical commitments.

Program Courses and Experiences (20-24 credit hours)

Year One

  • AQTS 111 Introduction to Urban Leadership (Fall, 2 credits)
  • AQTS 112 Aequitas Urban Leadership Summer Experience (Summer, 0 credits)
  • Fellows are encouraged to begin the economics sequence:
    • ECON 211 Principles of Microeconomics (4 credits; SI tag)
    • ECON 212 Principles of Macroeconomics (2 credits)

Year Two

  • Wheaton in Chicago (Fall or Spring)
    • Including URBN 233 Chicago (4 credits; DUS and SI tags)
    • Including AQTS 496 Aequitas Urban Leadership Internship (4, 6, or 8 credits)

Year Three

  • AQTS 375 Christian Ethics and the City (2 credits)
  • Participate in mentoring program for first-year cohort
  • Finish economics sequence, if not yet completed

Year Four

  • AQTS 411 Aequitas Urban Leadership Final Project 1 (Fall, 2 credits)
  • AQTS 412 Aequitas Urban Leadership Final Project 2 (Spring, 0 credits)
  • Present final project at senior symposium (Spring)

Year 1

The Wheaton College experience begins with Passage, an orientation program for incoming students. Aequitas Urban Leadership fellows are encouraged to choose the Woodlawn Track of Passage coordinated by HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development, which will introduce them to the neighborhood where they will be living during Wheaton in Chicago.

During the fall semester, fellows will take AQTS 111 Introduction to Urban Leadership. Taught by the Urban Leadership Theme Coordinator, this course studies key themes in urban leadership and fosters community among the cohort. The first year is also a good time for fellows to begin the economics sequence (ECON 211 Principles of Microeconomics and ECON 212 Principles of Macroeconomics).

Fellows are required to spend one summer participating in an international vocational experience at a place-based organization. This experience promotes fellows’ development as leaders by cultivating global perspective, cultural awareness, and workplace maturity. The experience will typically last eight weeks, and it may involve training and orientation prior to the trip. Fellows will receive support for this requirement.

Students will register for this experience through AQTS 112 Aequitas Urban Leadership Summer Experience. It is recommended that fellows participate in this experience the summer after their first year. It is also recommended that fellows fulfill this requirement through a Student Missionary Partners (SMP) trip with the Ministry and Evangelism Office. Fellows who wish to pursue other options for this requirement remain eligible to receive funding for their summer experience.

Pre-med students are advised to begin their chemistry sequence during their first year to participate in Wheaton in Chicago during their second year.

Year 2

The core requirement of Aequitas Urban Leadership is Wheaton in Chicago, a semester-long, residential experience in the historic South Side neighborhood of Woodlawn. Wheaton in Chicago enables students to study the City of Chicago while they are experiencing it first-hand. It also fosters community engagement, spiritual formation, and leadership development. Fellows will typically participate in Wheaton in Chicago their sophomore year, during either the fall or spring semester.

During Wheaton in Chicago, fellows will complete two required courses:

    • URBN 233 Chicago: This course studies the history and social dynamics of Chicago, including contemporary issues such as economics, race and ethnicity, immigration, and the environment.
    • AQTS 496 Aequitas Urban Leadership Internship: Wheaton in Chicago integrates coursework and vocational learning. The internship deepens fellows’ understanding of the urban context; introduces them to people and strategies addressing social, political, and economic challenges; facilitates fellows’ vocational discernment; and develops their professional network.


In most cases, fellows will also take BITH 376 Theologies of Transformation, which fulfills the general education core requirement in theology. This course surveys the central doctrines of Christian faith with an orientation toward their application in the city.

To take BITH 376, fellows are advised to complete the general education core requirement in either Old Testament (BITH 211 or 221 or ARCH 211) or New Testament (BITH 213 or ARCH 213 or BITH 317) prior to Wheaton in Chicago.

Year 3

Fellows will typically take AQTS 375 Christian Ethics and the City their junior year, following their Wheaton in Chicago experience. AQTS 375 is an advanced ethics course that addresses issues specific to urban contexts. It builds on fellows’ earlier coursework in Biblical and Theological Studies and helps them develop a biblical and theological foundation for their final projects.

Fellows will also be encouraged to participate in a mentoring program for the first-year cohort. This program fosters student leadership, inter-cohort relationships, and student participation in developing the theme.

Year 4

Fellows will produce an independent and innovative project that relates to the urban context and synthesizes their college learning and experiences. They will also present their work at a public event for the college community. The final project is the culminating experience of the Aequitas Urban Leadership theme. Students will register for the project through a two-semester sequence: AQTS 411 Aequitas Urban Leadership Final Project 1 (Fall) and AQTS 412 Aequitas Urban Leadership Final Project 2 (Spring).

Fellows have considerable flexibility in their topic. Past projects have involved an original musical composition and performance, producing a course in public health, designing eco-friendly affordable housing, analyzing the relation between law enforcement and minority communities, and developing a track of Urban Passage.

Fellows who plan to graduate early should communicate as early as possible with the Theme Coordinator about the timeline for their final project.


Urban Leadership Theme Coordinator

Gregory LeeDr. Gregory Lee serves as the Urban Leadership Theme Coordinator for the Aequitas Fellows Program. He is Associate Professor of Theology and Urban Studies at Wheaton College, where he has been on faculty since 2011. He lives with his wife and two children in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. Dr. Lee’s work integrates social analysis with Christian theology and ethics, concentrating on the thought of Augustine. His current book project is titled Christians among the Corrupt: Augustine, Race, and the Challenge of Immoral Communities. Dr. Lee teaches regularly for Wheaton in Chicago, he is Senior Fellow for The Wheaton Center for Early Christian Studies, and he is Theologian in Residence at Lawndale Christian Community Church. He received his A.B. from Princeton University, M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and Ph.D. from Duke University.