The First-Year Seminar Learning Communities traveled to D.C. last weekend. For the fifth year in a row, more than 140 students and seven faculty members made the trip to the nation’s capital as part of the Learning Community experience.
After getting settled in on Friday evening, students had their first taste of Washington culture at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, where they heard a tribute to jazz great Benny Goodman. On Saturday morning, the first years were given a hands-on experience with politics when they met NBC journalist Luke Russert, son of the late American journalist Tim Russert, to discuss the midterm election results.
“Bird Obsessions: Beauty of Beasts,” Associate Professor of Biology Mark Deutschlander’s first-year seminar, spent the rest of the day at the National Zoo, where they met with ornithologists and explored the zoo’s exotic birds. Meanwhile, Professor of Chemistry Walter Bowyer’s class “New Chemistry Meets Old Art,” visited a number of art museums in the city to meet with curators to discuss the chemistry involved in preserving art.
Before boarding the bus on Friday, Courtney Cytryn ’14, who is enrolled in the “Happiness” seminar taught by Jeff VanLone, director of the Center for Counseling and Student Wellness, looked forward to her class’ Saturday excursion. “We’re visiting the World War II Memorial,” explains Cytryn. “We’ll engage with any veterans we see visiting the memorial and hopefully have an opportunity to show our gratitude.”
Though the locations visited by each seminar differed, they were connected by a shared goal. “First and foremost, a good education is all about making theory and education come to life,” said David Mapstone ’93, Assistant Dean of Hobart College. “With this trip, our professors can use D.C. for context to make their classes come alive.”
The trip was also an important aspect of social growth for first years on campus. “This allows students to reach out and connect with new people,” remarked Mapstone. “They can expand their support network of friends and get to know different groups of students.”
For some students, the trip didn’t only expand their network of friends, but also their world view. “This is my first time going to Washington, D.C.,” said Jeptha Sullivan ’14, who traveled with Professor of History Susanne McNally’s “You Are Where You Eat,” seminar. “I’m really excited to see and experience the capital!”
In their first semester on campus, students in a Learning Community take several classes with their fellow seminar members, as well as live in the same residence hall. These living and learning environments focus on shared, active learning, linking academic and out-of-class experiences and developing strong bonds with faculty and fellow students.
In the photo above, first-year students gathered in Medbery Parking lot on Friday afternoon before leaving for D.C.