Incoming students in the class of 2022 will have a variety of courses to choose from when they register this summer, including four new Richmond Endeavor courses.

The Richmond Endeavor is part of the Quality Enhancement Plan, which is a component of the accreditation process that the university undergoes every ten years. University community members had the opportunity to submit ideas for the QEP last spring, and of the 49 suggestions, the first-year experience was chosen as the focus.

“We had so many ideas about the first-year experience, and with Endeavor, we’re trying to reign them all in,” Steve Bisese, vice president for student development, said.

The Richmond Endeavor is a class-based living-learning experience for first-year students. Each community will consist of 16 students who take a class together in the fall and complete a collaborative project in the spring. Four Richmond Endeavor communities are planned for next year, and the program will expand over the next six years to become 14 communities.

Students in Endeavor communities will also participate in Roadmap to Success, and the faculty member who teaches their course will serve as their academic adviser beginning in the summer.

“Faculty were already advising first-year students and teaching first-year students and focusing on experiential learning,” Andy Gurka, director of the Living-Learning and Roadmap programs, said. “We’re not trying to recreate the wheel here. What we’re trying to do is integrate all of the good things we’re already doing in one experience.”

The four communities offered next year include two BIO 199 classes, Astrobiology and Genetics in the Environment, and two first-year seminar classes, Civic Journalism and Social Justice and Across the Continents, which is a global literature class.

Gurka said that the first-year living-learning communities in Wood Hall had provided good feedback on how to make the Endeavor program successful.

“We heard from students that if the course didn’t count for something, they would be less likely to take it," Gurka said. "That’s why all of the Endeavor courses count towards something – either a general education requirement or a first year seminar."

Carrie Wu, associate professor of biology, is teaching the biology class on Genetics in the Environment. Although the class is still in the planning stage, the overall theme is biological invasions, which students will study through a variety of approaches including spatial analysis, ecology, physiology and genetics. After learning about species invasion in the fall, students will spend the spring project focusing on fish forensics, which will enable students to explore their own strengths and interests, Wu said.

Wu said she was most excited to be interacting with students early on in Roadmap and then continuing on as their academic adviser.

“A lot of faculty here are here because we want to have connections with students,” she said. “This is a really great opportunity to be able to build that connection early, and that’s one of the things that really appealed to me about [Endeavor].”

In addition to excitement from faculty members who are teaching the courses, Bisese said he had seen excitement from the general campus community.

“Everyone seems to be as excited as they can be about something that isn’t going to affect them,” he said.

The deadline for incoming first-year students to apply is June 1.

Contact writer Claire Mendelson at claire.mendelson@richmond.edu.

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