Learning Communities in D.C. – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Learning Communities in D.C.

During the weekend of Nov. 8, eight HWS Learning Communities traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend class experientially.

“It is so important for students to have learning experiences outside of the classroom with their peers and with their faculty members,” says David Mapstone ’93, assistant dean of Hobart College and director of the Learning Communities program. “The faculty have the opportunity to use D.C. as a text to share with students so that they can better understand important aspects of the particular course.”

First-year students enrolled in a Learning Community take one or more courses together. They also live together on the same floor of a co-ed residence hall and attend some of the same lectures and field trips. 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.

On Friday, students and faculty departed the HWS campus and arrived in the capital by 5:30 that evening, in time to attend the National Symphony Orchestra concert at the Kennedy Center.

On Saturday, each Learning Community – “Golf Course Architecture”; “Victorian Fiction and Science”; “Modern isms”; “Madness in Culture and History”; “Art on the Edge”; “Talk and Learn about Climate Change”; “Climate Change: Science and Politics”; and “Genocide in the Modern Age” – took an excursion to galleries and museums, like the Smithsonian, to actively investigate their specific course.

Associate Dean of Hobart College Rocco “Chip” Capraro’s first-year seminar, “Golf Course Architecture,” toured the Congressional Golf Club in Bethesda, Md.

Assistant Professor of English Rob Carson and Assistant Professor of English Kathryn Cowles, who are teaching a Learning Community designed around Shakespeare and creative writing, took their classes on excursions to provoke deeper thinking on each subject.

“Both of our first-year seminars focus on contemporary art and literature, though Kathryn’s is more contemporary while mine is more about high modernism,” Carson says. “We took both classes to the National Gallery on Saturday morning and had the students do a scavenger hunt, tracking down gallery highlights, and then moved to the Hirshhorn Museum after lunch where the students looked at more contemporary art and tackled an assignment that made them think in depth about curation.”

Students had some free time Saturday evening to explore the city on their own before the group returned to campus Sunday afternoon.