BY HOLLY CARDOZA & ERIN CANGIANO
Learning Communities, also known as LCs, will not be going away, but the College is discussing dropping the three-class component as a graduation requirement.
A preliminary proposal to be discussed by the faculty senate next week considers whether LC’s should be an elective, rather than a requirement. The proposal, if enacted, is not expected to affect current students.
Todd Gernes, assistant dean of general education and academic achievement, has been the director of Stonehill’s Cornerstone program since 2008. It was originally founded by then Dean of General Education, Susan Mooney.
Gernes said he is always working to improve the program for students and wants to provide them with more flexibility.
The goal is to increase students’ engagement in their liberal arts education by providing them with more flexibility in the Cornerstone program.
“The question is how do we best use the Learning Communities to support our students? Is it better to have every student take an LC their sophomore year as a requirement no matter what, or is it better to have fewer LCs that we put our energy and creativity into and allow students to choose if that’s a good fit for them,” Gernes said.
The Learning Community program has been a requirement since it started more than 10 years ago.
Gernes said looking at new ways to create even better LCs is important.
“By focusing our resources and creativity on fewer LCs each semester, and by giving students a variety of options to engage in integrative learning, we can sustain the vitality and excitement of LC’s while encouraging students to be agents of their own learning. After all, isn’t that what a liberal arts education is all about?” said Gernes.
This idea of changing the LC requirement is not new. In fact, it is been in question for several years. Gernes said some faculty are concerned the program would die if the LC’s were changed to electives because students would not take them. He said the proposal is designed to make things better, not eliminate the LC program.
“This is a larger process of the ongoing assessment and adjustment of the Cornerstone Program to make it better,” Gernes said.
Gernes said he will be meeting with student leaders on campus and will be conducting focus groups in LC courses to analyze the quality of the courses all to get student feedback.
Junior Katie Fabry said she benefitted from her learning community experience.
“My Integrated Marketing Communications LC was a very intense learning experience. The course combined Public Relations with Marketing, so our assignments varied from rebranding a company and developing our own products, to writing press releases,” she said.
“I can use the LC work in my portfolio to show potential employers in the future, so it was really beneficial in more ways than one.”
Junior Rob Massey said his learning community proved to be a unique learning experience as well.
“After learning so much about Irish history in class, spending a week in Ireland was really rewarding. It was awesome to be able to see everything outside of a textbook and made me even more interested in the subject. Engaging in the Irish culture with my classmates was also a plus,” Massey said.
Gernes said the discussion about LCs will continue and he believes that most people like the Learning Communities. He said now it is a matter of looking at how they work best in the curriculum.