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Monday, May 16, 2022


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New living-learning communities to be offered next year

Now in its seventh cohort of students, Richmond’s living-learning communities are growing in scope and number. The Office of Living-Learning and Roadmap Programs will offer ten Sophomore Scholars in Residence and two upperclassmen communities during the 2015-2016 academic year, almost all of which link the curricular and the co-curricular through concentration on social justice.

Andy Gurka, director of the Office of Living-Learning and Roadmap Programs, explained the merits and opportunities of these atypical courses. SSIRs and living-learning communities give way to “deep learning,” grounded in “significant faculty-peer interactions,” Gurka said. 

Gurka said the basic goals of the programs were “to deeply engage with a topic, to engage with faculty in meaningful and intentional ways and to develop a peer group of shared academic experience.” Sustained contact with professors and peers both in the classroom and on co-curricular trips allows students to develop relationships with lasting impacts.

Many of the new SSIRs focus on social justice. Melissa Ooten will lead “Disaster, Memory and Popular Culture" in American Studies, which will focus on the social justice implications of indelible events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina. 

Laura Browder and Patricia Herrara will lead “Documenting a Changing Neighborhood: A Richmond Community Project,” which is also in American Studies. Students will document oral histories and culminate their work to create an original documentary drama focused on their studies on Church Hill, a neighborhood in Richmond.

“Life on the Frontera” will examine social justice and human rights on the U.S.-Mexico border, under the management of Ted Peebles, director of the Spanish Intensive Language Program in the Latin American and Iberian Studies department. 

“Salsa Meets Jazz” with Mike Davison and Myra Daleng will examine the Afro-Cuban salsa tradition and the origins of jazz, as well as the social implications of the tradition. 

Lidia Radi will lead “Travel for Discovery,” a Modern Literatures and Cultures community, which will study the place of traveling and journeys that lead to self-discovery in Western literature and film.

Gurka highlighted a new type of program designed for upperclassmen who may want to both study abroad and enjoy apartment life during their senior year. This community, “Local to Global,” or L2G, will consist of one residential semester at Richmond, one semester abroad at any partner institution and a third, non-residential capstone semester in which the student may choose to live in an on-campus apartment. The program will debut with a focus on water and energy development. Students will conduct independent research while studying abroad and communicate with their peers and professors via blogging. Their research will include the social justice element of water and energy.

Gurka also discussed social justice in regards to the upperclassmen program “Q-Community,” which focuses specifically on the queer community. Students will travel to conferences and hear from AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power and right to marriage equality groups, Gurka said. They will also have the opportunity to help organize and run the annual “Q-summit,” an annual conference for queer youth held at Richmond.

Applications for L2G, Q-Community and the SSIRs are due Feb. 1, 2015 at 11:59 p.m.

Contact copy assistant Evan McKay at

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