This past semester, the First-Year Learning Communities students rode buses to Washington, D.C., as part of the integration of their academic and residential lives. The learning communities, which are semester-long programs, were established as a “method of facilitating integrative learning and connecting the curricular and co-curricular lives of students, says Assistant Dean David Mapstone ’93, the coordinator of the HWS Learning Community initiative.
The trip was an example and application of what the communities try to foster. It was “a way to get the students together with faculty in a robust environment that would allow students to learn from experts practicing in their fields, says Mapstone. The “Bird Obsessions: Beauty of the Beast Learning Community visited the National Zoo and met with ornithologists, engaging in learning experiences with outside experts. The “Tales of the Village Idiot: Russian and American Folklore Learning Community toured the International Spy Museum and attended a Russian folk music concert. On Friday, students explored the nation’s capital by themselves and reconvened at the Kennedy Center for a performance by the National Symphony Orchestra.
The purpose of the trip was “to bridge the curriculum and the co-curriculum, says Mapstone, “to flesh out the educational experience and to help students realize that “learning occurs in a variety of classrooms and is a lifelong experience.
Students in the Learning Communities have the same First-Year Seminar and are enrolled in a linked course, to emphasize the interconnection between courses. Students are also housed together, often with an upper-class student-teaching colleague living on the same floor. One of the main goals of the program is “to help students connect — to the institution and to each other, to develop an academically based peer support network.