Perspectives

Learning Communities in Liberal Arts

Auburn University began offering Learning Communities (LC) about 17 years ago, and the College of Liberal Arts has been an active member from the very beginning. The structure of the LC is intended to help students connect to each other and to the university by creating a group of academic peers with shared experiences across two or more courses in the first semester of college.

What is a learning community?

First of all, it’s important to note that not all institutions offer learning communities. The College of Liberal Arts has been offering these unique academic opportunities for first-year Auburn students since 1999. Liberal Arts Learning Communities bring together students and faculty to explore a thematic course at the beginning of a students’ college experience. Each learning community is comprised of 19 students who are enrolled in a cluster of connected courses in the core curriculum. By participating in a learning community, students are involved in an environment that helps their college transition.

“Learning communities are a great way to highlight the value of a College of Liberal Arts positioned within a large research university like Auburn,” said Charles Israel, associate dean for academic affairs. “While an incoming class of nearly 5,000 students can be overwhelming, the learning community connects a student with 18 other new students through their experiences in two or more common first-year core courses.”

What is the benefit/advantage to joining a learning community?

Students who participate in learning communities are more often engaged and satisfied with their college experience. They're more likely to stay in school because of the support system that comes with being part of a learning community.

“The faculty who volunteer to teach the thematic anchor courses for learning communities are drawn by the opportunity to work with new students, and to help spark their intellectual curiosity in a discipline or subject at the same time the students are making that important transition to college,” Israel said.

Learning communities encourage helpful study habits since the students are taking many of the same courses. Because of the small number of students per learning community, long-lasting connections and friendships are forged with students and faculty.

What are some of the learning communities available through the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University?

Communication and Journalism – This LC focuses on the coursework required to obtain a degree in communication, journalism, media studies, or public relations. It provides opportunities to get involved in the on-campus student media outlets and covers future career paths for each major. It also covers topics to help the adjustment from high school to college by learning about Auburn resources, study skills, and time and money management.

Global Perspectives – This LC is for students who are interested in exploring other cultures, examining global current events, traveling abroad, or pursuing a career that will place them around the world. All Auburn students are encouraged to have a global experience during their time at Auburn, and this learning community can both offer you that experience and prepare you for other opportunities such as study abroad, alternative breaks, and related academic minors.

Hamilton and the Liberal Arts – “Hamilton: An American Musical” has been an explosive cultural phenomenon, capturing attention well beyond the relatively small numbers of people who have actually been able to view the show. This learning community will introduce students to college through the lens of this musical, exploring its connections to writing, performance, culture, and history.

Pleasure, Happiness, and the Good Life – According to popular thought, a good life is a happy life, and a happy life is a life of pleasure. Is this true? Might your life be good yet unhappy? Might it be happy yet unpleasant? In this learning community, we will try to understand what it is to live well, what it is to be happy, and what it is to undergo pleasure, in order to understand whether and how these central dimensions of human experience are interrelated.

The Pre-Law Learning Community – This LC is comprised of first-year students from any college or school on campus who have an interest in the pursuit of a law degree upon graduating from Auburn. Students will learn about the law school application process and career opportunities within the legal profession. Students will also learn about and discuss legal issues related to current events and higher education. Students will learn about academic and personal resources on Auburn’s campus, relevant social issues, and opportunities for involvement on campus and in the local community. 

 

Last Updated: December 06, 2017