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Learning communities add new options for fall 2006
Learning communities add new options for fall 2006February 09, 2006Syracuse University’s Office of Learning Communities is adding five new options starting with the Fall 2006 semester: Air Force ROTC; HSHP Health & Wellness; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, & Allies (LGBTA); Outdoor Pursuits; and Writing Community/Composing Culture.
Currently, SU offers 35 different learning communities focused on student interests in lifestyle, culture, academics and civics. They have become an important component on a campus comprising 12 schools and colleges enrolling more than 11,400 full-time undergraduates.
While SU’s breadth offers a wealth of opportunities, it can be a daunting task for freshmen to successfully acclimate. Learning communities provide students with a framework for developing close relationships and a sense of belonging that builds a solid foundation during those first critical semesters on campus.
“Learning communities break down the invisible boundaries that get set up between students from different backgrounds, between the various scholarly disciplines, between student life and classroom learning, and between the campus and the surrounding community of Syracuse and beyond,” says Sandra Hurd, associate provost for Academic Affairs.
Hurd notes that SU’s learning communities also permeate another boundary?they bring together faculty and staff from Academic Affairs and Students Affairs, forming strong relationships based on the common goal of creating the best possible learning environment for students. In fact, the leadership of the Office of Learning Communities is a prime example: Hurd and Terra Peckskamp, associate director for Student Affairs’ Office of Residence Life, co-direct the learning communities.
Students in all learning communities share common academic experiences and out-of-class activities linked to their specific community. Residential learning community members have the added component of living together in a residence hall.
Michael Carriere, a member of the Creativity, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) Learning Community, appreciates being able to able to work with a variety of students. “This community doesn’t have a majority of people from any one major. We are from VPA, ECS, IST, Newhouse and Architecture. We are not from any one area, coming from Syracuse, Rhode Island, Texas, Korea and Hong Kong,” Carriere says. “This community is the essence of celebrating diversity, not only from our origins, but also from the wide range of ideas, goals and dreams that we express every day.”
Eric Alderman, Whitman Professor of Entrepreneurial Practice and director of the CIE Learning Community, appreciates CIE from a different perspective.
“Of my many rewarding experiences with the CIE, I value most seeing the students grow together as a group, sharing expanded self-realization and broadened horizons for the future,” he says.
There are also learning communities created specifically to bring together students enrolled in the same major. Anne Kearney, faculty advisor and coordinator for the new HSHP Health and Wellness Learning Community, says, “One of the goals for Health and Wellness is to give a sense of cohesiveness and build a sense of community for students enrolling in this new major.”
In addition to coordinating the learning community team, consisting of a resident advisor, resident hall director and other faculty from linked courses, Kearney will be teaching one of the courses linked to the learning community: Personal and Social Health: Living It (HTW 121).