Living Learning Commons Hosts Three Residency Courses

November 14, 2017

By Sarah King '18

This academic year, the Living Learning Commons (LLC) is home to three courses giving students the opportunity to create meaningful connections with their fellow students and faculty in a residential setting. Politics Professor Peter Josephson is currently teaching “Liberalism, Pluralism, and the Community,” and fine arts Associate Professor Kimberly Kersey Asbury is teaching “Drawing I” this fall and “Illustration” in the spring.

These courses are all unique, but each lends itself to a dual academic and residential environment, where professors provide extracurricular events for students to put their classroom experiences into practice.

“Drawing I” and “Illustration” include student art exhibitions on campus and community-based art exhibits as co-curricular additions to the courses. The illustration course will run congruent with the release of the book, “Mirror, Mirrored,” a modern illustrated retelling of Brothers Grim stories by local artists. The class will then engage in a book talk, a cross disciplinary panel, and a collage workshop with the book’s illustrator.

Professor Josephson’s course assesses the connection between political theory and practical applications. Josephson implores students to delve deeper into politics, to get beyond the surface conflict. Students are studying the works of modern American political philosophers, John Rawls, Harvard Philosophy Professor Michael Sandel, and University of Illinois at Springfield Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Peter Wenz.

Professor Josephson also integrates additional learning experiences and social activities as part of the curriculum. Students will attend six campus events and enjoy five lunches together in the LLC kitchen. Recently, they were encouraged to attend Carol Hardy-Fanta’s presentation at The New Hampshire Institute of Politics entitled, “Race, Gender, and Political Leadership: The Decision to Run and Patterns of Office-Holding.”

For students, these courses provide an increased level of engagement because the experience does not end at the classroom door. “It brings people together in a way that a traditional academic building-based class does not; the learning in the integrated learning community does not end when class is dismissed, it continues into hallways, into common rooms and sitting areas, and into residence hall life generally," explains Cameron Lapine ’19.

This extended learning is not merely theoretical, but has concrete benefits for the students, says Lapine. “My hallway and floor in the LLC have been the quietest, cleanest, and friendliest hallway and floor I have lived in and on during my time at Saint Anselm College.”

“Living with my fellow classmates in the LLC brings us closer together and teaches us how to live with people of differing opinions,” continues Lapine. He says that this classroom structure highlights the best of our history and brightness of the future: “I think that the integrated learning communities promoted by the current LLC class-living structure is truly the manner of higher education of the future."

Professor Josephson explains that he chose to teach this course because his previous course, “The Question of Liberty,” was his “best [teaching] experience in terms of relationships with the students” he has had at Saint Anselm College. Further, he believes that since courses in the LLC provide guaranteed student housing within the building allowing students to bypass the housing lottery is an added appeal for students who otherwise may not have been immediately interested in the course.

Besides fostering stronger relationships between professors and students, professors Josephson and Kersey-Asbury have also noticed a more profound connection among the students. “There is [simply] a different energy in these types of classes,” Josephson explains.

Professor Asbury believes that this energy comes from the sense of comfort that the environment provides. In her drawing course, she notes that many of her students have not taken art classes since grade school, which can create anxiety. However, she has noticed that, “usually when the course is taught in a residential manner those nerves are eased sooner.”

Asbury has been involved with the installation of art in the LLC since its opening. She designed the building’s art display cases, which currently house the work of Japanese artist En Iwamura, and finds that having the ability to display both student and professional art is helpful. She says that the LLC offers a dynamic way to engage students, even those who are not in her course, but who live in the building; she often welcomes them to sit in on one of her classes and utilize extra materials.

By creating courses that engage students academically and on a personal level with one another, Saint Anselm College is actively pursuing the mission to provide an environment that enhances student success and reflects the values of integrity, respect, responsibility, and Benedictine hospitality.

The goal of the Living Learning Commons is to bring together academic affairs and residence life in a state-of-the-art facility, creating a different kind of residential learning community. It opened in August 2014 and currently houses 150 students, classrooms, conference rooms, study space, and exhibition space featuring six art cases on three floors