By Elizabeth Ucles
What do Living Learning Communities do?
At St. Edward’s, all freshmen are required to be a member of a Living Living Learning Community, so prospective students might want to know a bit about them. As advertised on the Living Learning Communities (LLC) page on the St. Edward’s website, LLCs are “where collaboration and learning extend beyond the classroom.”Each LLC incorporates a classroom curriculum, residence programming, and off-campus programming to give you a well-rounded approach to the communities theme.
Two especially notable LLCs to acknowledge are the Social Justice and Wicked Problems LLCs. Per the Social Justice LLC webpage, the LLC gathers students from different fields who care about the world and have a desire to grow and meet their full potential by taking on social justice issues through reflection and dialogue. You will get a similar experience in the Wicked Problems LLC; this LLC deals with how complex, global problems need to be addressed through local solutions. In both cases, these LLCS foster campus and community engagement and serve to make students socially responsible.
What do you get out of participating in an LLC?
As a student in a LLC, you are required to attend a defined number of co-curricular events to deepen your engagement with other members of your community and to deepen your knowledge of a wide range of subjects. This engagement can be as simple as participating in a community builder at the Escape Room, a Barton Springs Trip or going to museums in Austin. Other co-curriculars are more learning and issue-based. Examples of co-curricular events have included visits from authors–such as Natalie Diaz, a discussion on xenophobia, art gallery shows, and more.
The classroom interaction of LLCs gives you the chance to explore subtopics that interest you within the general LLC subject-area. Wicked Problems LLC professor for linked course “Taming Wicked Problems Through Effective Communication,” Catherine MacDermott attests that the classroom experience has engaged students in productive and respectful conversation. The class teaches students on conflict communication strategies and practices, how to do deliberative dialogue, neutral language, moderating and listening. According to MacDermott, students are learning to about a“Respectful and civically engaged way to handle Wicked Problems.” MacDermott elaborated on the subjects ranging from immigration to health care to alcoholism. Over the course of a semester, MacDermott has noticed significant change in students: “They have become very good at listening, they have become really good at respectful dialogue with each other and not trying to debate,” MacDermott said. “They’ll listen to that person and say ‘I haven’t thought about it this way.’ I’ve noticed civil discourse and neutral language.”
The LLC classroom involves a discussion-heavy environment that involves a collaboration with professor presentation, media and video interaction, group discussion, and presentation. In a Social Justice LLC linked course, “Art and Activism: Reclaiming, Space, Place and Identity” with professor Tammie Rubin, students engaged with a video by artist James Luna “ISHI: The Archive Performance.” After watching the video, the class engaged with each other and Rubin to discuss Native American appropriation and the expectations and popular images of Native American art. Groups then presented their conclusions to the class. These presentations then propelled conversation into the purpose and nuances of the video’s subject matter.
What do LLCs contribute to the St. Edward’s Community?
As an LLC student, you are also offered a variety of faculty liaisons to look to in multiple departments: Campus Ministry, the Health and Counseling Center, Academic Career Exploration, Global Engagement, Campus Recreation and more. According to the Associate Director of Residence Life, Tony Farmer, these connections throughout campus aid to the LLC experience, “It improves the student experience,” Farmer said. “It helps giving students a common experience.” Farmer elaborated that students sharing these faculty connections help them experience together the LLC in multifaceted ways, which is proven to improve experience.
The community aspect of LLCs has proven beneficial in connecting students with one another during their first-year experience. “Students in LLC are going to make friends easier,” Farmer said. “’You’re not just my roommate, you’re also my classmate.’” The community building aspect of LLCs is not just limited to student community, but to connections to faculty. The invaluable connection with professors has aided in creating fruitful and genuine discussion. Farmer used Wicked Problems LLC professor Steve Fletcher as an example, as Fletcher has office hours in the residence hall for Wicked Problems, Teresa Hall.
MacDermott highlighted the post-graduate benefit of LLCs for students. Specifically, in MacDermott’s classroom, MacDermott cites civic discourse are vital for the workforce. “They’re going to be working with Wicked Problems in the work place” MacDermott said. “They need the skillset to be able to do that.”
How can students get involved?
To get more information contact Associate Director, Tony Farmer, at firstname.lastname@example.org.