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Updated January 8, 2013

The mission of Living Learning Communities at Miami University is to create and extend student learning opportunities outside of the classroom that heighten student intellectual and personal growth. Living Learning Communities are purposeful attempts to integrate curricular and co-curricular experiences that complement and extend classroom learning. These communities foster faculty and resident interaction that enhances both intellectual and personal growth of the residents. Each community (with the exception of Student Created Programming) is built around a specific field of study or area of interest and is structured so students have a high degree of involvement in its formation.

Overview of Living Learning Communities

At Miami University, we have put a lot of thought and resources into the development of our Living Learning Communities. We have researched many different types of communities and realize the benefit of offering a variety of choices for students as they enter the University and continue their residential experience at Miami.

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In a letter to former Miami President, James Garland, regarding his living learning community, Adam B. Vary (Miami class of 2001) stated, “the value of that experience is immeasurable to me….” Thousands of current students and alumni who have experienced the lasting impact of living environments that focus on learning in and outside of the classroom share this sentiment. Indeed, living learning communities are ideal contexts for reaching deeper levels of learning and modeling the Miami Plan principles of “critical thinking, understanding contexts, engaging with other learners, and reflecting and acting.”

Currently, Miami offers 35 theme-based living learning communities, which center on interests such as the arts, leadership, technology, and cultural perspectives, to name a few. In 2004-2005, 63% of first-year students are in a theme LLC ; 75% of first-year students selected a theme LLC as first choice. There are a total of 43 sections of 11 theme-related courses (781 seats), most of which are discussion-based (enrollment capped at 23 students or less) and held in the residence hall. There are 32 English Composition sections offered in living learning communities, benefiting a total of approximately 700 students. Students and faculty find that courses taught in the residence halls offer something that traditional classes in academic buildings can’t—cohorts of students who debate and discuss content in their own “home” (over meals and late at night in the corridors and common areas), sometimes leading to informal mentoring and tutoring.

Over 70 faculty, staff, and graduate students from a variety of disciplines and divisions coordinate and teach these classes, sometimes in addition to their usual job responsibilities. Over 100 faculty, staff, graduate students, and undergraduate students serve on Living Learning Community Advisory Councils to orchestrate and implement curricular and co-curricular efforts. The reason so many faculty, staff, and students participate in these programs is that the outcomes are so real and powerful for all involved—for students (aiding in the transition to college, introducing them to faculty and peer support), for faculty (providing a professional development opportunity, helping them understand current student issues), and for the institution (promoting success with students’ transition and retention, providing a forum for intellectual exchange between students and faculty). Indeed, this program’s success lies in the collaboration between Academic and Student Affairs. U.S. News & World Report, in the 2005 edition of “ America’s Best Colleges” remarked that our Living Learning Community model is a “stellar” academic example.

 

History of Living Learning Communities
at Miami University

1929 — Live-in faculty begin to conduct academic advising in the residence halls
1974 — The Western College Program was established
1983 — The beginning of Focused Learning Communities (FLC), precursor to Theme Learning Communities, in conjunction with the Honors Department
1983 — The Honors Program was established (a precursor to the Honors and Scholars Program)
1983-1992 — International Living Learning Center and Health Enhancement & Lifestyle Management Programs were established
1993 — German Language Floor, Residential Service Learning, Academic Excellence Floor (precursor to the Scholastic Enhancement Program), Fine Arts Interest Floor (precursor to the Celebrate the Arts Program), Cooperative Living/Learning Center (no longer in existence), and the Business Floor (no longer in existence), were all established
1995 — Women in Math, Science, & Engineering was established
1996 — Scholar Leader Program and Leadership, Excellence, & Community were established
1996 — Scholastic Enhancement Program was established in conjunction with the Office of Learning Assistance (now the Learning Center), and began using a live-in staff coordinator
1997 — Addition of a Coordinator of Theme Learning Communities
1997 — Mosaic: Individuality and Diversity was established in conjunction with the College of Arts and Science
1997 — Started to see a shift within the Office of Residence Life & New Student Programs to Theme Learning Communities, with the involvement of the TLC Task Force, consisting of Dr. Richard Nault, Dean of Students; Dr. Todd Holcomb, Director of Residence Life and New Student Programs; and Dr. Myrtis Powell, Vice President for Student Affairs
1998 — Celebrate the Arts was established in conjunction with the School of Fine Arts
1998 — Official name changed from Focused Learning Communities to Theme Learning Communities
1999 — Courses in Common was established (first known as Federated Learning Community)
2000 — Decision made to continue to increase the number of communities and to implement communities campus-wide, by considering all halls Living Learning Communities
2000 — Students use web to register for TLC Courses
2000 — A second task force made up of faculty and staff from academic and student affairs determined that all Living Learning Communities would be quality driven rather than quantity driven
2001 — Record 53% of first-year students and 12% of upperclass students chose to participate in Theme Learning Communities
2001 — Addition of one Theme Learning Community Program Coordinator
2001 — Addition of the French Language Floor
s
2003 Addition of the Environmental Awareness Program and the Technology and Society Program
2005
Addition of the Chinese Language Floor

2006 - Creation of designated staff position to focus on LLC development and support

2009 - 2nd Year live on requirement implemented and initiated the requirement that ALL students will live in an LLC. Addition of 10 new communities.

2012 - 2 new communities initiated bringing the total LLC number to 31