New Partnership with Second City Works and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to Study How Improvisation Can Promote Better Workplace Dynamics

Career Climbers / 1st February 2017

Second City Works, the business-to-business arm of the iconic comedy theater The Second City, announced an academic partnership with the University of Chicago Booth School of Business to explore how evidence-based insights and practices of improvisation can enhance communication, collaboration and well-being in everyday life. The first step for this partnership joining art and science is the launch of RewireU, an educational program with classes at The Second City beginning Feb. 22. Related content will follow for Chicago Booth executive education programs, starting with Strategic Business Leadership in mid-March.

By way of a pop-up research lab at The Second City, the partnership of these two iconic Chicago institutions will integrate insights from Chicago Booth’s Center for Decision Research (CDR) with Second City Works and The Second City Training Center’s teachings to identify how improvisation can create happier and more productive individuals and organizations in the increasingly collaborative workplace.

“Improvisation is at the heart of everyday social interaction, whether it’s adjusting to new environments, responding to obstacles or pivoting strategy in the workplace,” said Kelly Leonard, newly appointed Executive Director of Insights and Applied Improvisation at The Second City. “Inspired by The Second City’s educational methods, we are partnering with Chicago Booth to take improvisation beyond the traditional performance space and empower individuals to leverage it for professional and social success.”

“When three University of Chicago alumni – Paul Sills, Bernard Sahlins and Howard Alk – founded The Second City in 1959, it would have been inconceivable to think that their work in improvisation would one day play a role in workplace behavior research at their esteemed alma mater,” added Andrew Alexander, CEO and Executive Producer of The Second City.

Chicago Booth’s CDR will be the exclusive research partner informing RewireU and future educational offerings with Second City Works and The Second City Training Center. The partners will collaborate to conduct rigorous and creative behavioral science research, engaging audience members, students and clients that come through The Second City.

“Our commitment to understanding real human behavior makes this partnership a natural and exciting collaboration for the CDR,” said Heather Caruso, executive director of Booth’s CDR. “As any participant in improvisational exercises knows, these practices make it possible for each of us to more clearly recognize some of the most interesting aspects of our everyday human nature—our impulses, hopes, anxieties, habits and our untapped abilities to guide ourselves toward more fulfilling behavior through insight and practice. We look forward to sharing our findings in the classroom and beyond.”

As the first educational offering to emerge from the partnership, RewireU will teach students to better improvise their way through the workplace with attitudes and skills such as being nimble, adaptable and accepting of ideas. Classes are broken into two halves, with the first immersing participants in improvisational exercises and the second applying resultant evidence-based insights to the workplace through reflection, play and discussion.

RewireU will be offered in both intensive two-and-a-half day or immersive five-week courses, beginning in mid-February. For a full RewireU class schedule and more information about the program, visit

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