Sustainable Living and Learning: A Learning Community for First-Year Students

Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Date Posted: Jan. 23, 2018
Submitted by: HWS Office of
Sustainability Topics: Curriculum, Campus Engagement
Content Type: Academic Programs
Program Type: Specialization/Concentration/Emphasis


First-year students have the opportunity to participate in a special, two-semester long Learning Community that will investigate the intersection of sustainability and consumption with a particular emphasis on the relationship between local actions and global effects. There are no prerequisites for enrollment, nor is it necessary to have a history of work in sustainability initiatives. Instead, we’re looking for students who have a curiosity about the world around them, who want to learn more about the environment, and who enjoy classroom experiences that are active and varied.

The Sustainable Living and Learning Seminar bridges the academic world and residential world, as nearly all students are taught in a hybrid classroom within the residence hall, known as a Residential Learning Lab. These labs are classrooms during the academic day, located right on your residence hall floor, and then a social/study space in the evening. They come equipped with standard smart classroom technology and have flexible seating arrangements to maximize use of the room. In addition, to being taught on your floor, faculty members work closely with residential education staff to create co-curricular programs that align with what you’re learning in class and help students connect to their faculty member and each other in more intentional ways.

As members of the Sustainable Living Learning Community, students will: -Live together in the same, co-ed residence hall -Learn together in the fall semester as a member of one of four sections of Consuming the World (each section will include 14 students and each will be taught by a member of the faculty) -Take a linked class with the Learning Community in the spring semester -Develop strong relationships with fellow students and faculty, two of whom will have an office in the residence hall -Participate in a wide range of classroom experiences right in the residence hall, which includes three seminar rooms and a specially designed kitchen -Participate in field trips to learn more about Geneva and the Finger Lakes -Attend special lectures delivered by global leaders in the sustainability field -Take part in a weekly exploration lab to include hands-on tutorials, some happening at Fribolin Farm, a 35-acres farm owned by the Colleges just a mile from campus -Be mentored by four Eco-Reps, upper class students who have expertise in sustainability and who will serve as teaching assistants for Consuming the World

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