Learning communities set to expand


By Sara Weber

In the upcoming fall semester, students can expect to see an increase in learning communities on campus. Specifically designed to include sophomores and upperclassmen in the camaraderie of learning communities, these additions will be more based on majors and various schools on campus.

One of the co-directors of the learning community program, Pam Foti, said she expects the expansion to incorporate more students and encourage students to look to their classmates for help.

“What we would like to do is to expand the learning communities beyond what they are now, to include college based learning communities,” Foti said. “We’d like to have some opportunities for the colleges so that there are major based learning communities . . . We’re trying to really get people connected with their area of study [and] get people to connect in a couple of classes.”

Including residence halls like Aspen Crossing, Northern Arizona University (NAU) already has multiple learning communities for first-year freshman living on campus.

Barbara Tomlinson, liaison for the College of Health and Human Services learning community, advocates the program offers various resources to those involved.

“I have been the faculty liaison for the CHHS learning community for the past three years,” Tomlinson said. “It is a wonderful opportunity to work with the learning community mentors and learn both secondhand and firsthand the positive impact the community has on freshmen students. The learning community helps connect freshmen students with other students, with faculty and staff, with resources and with learning opportunities.”

Though there has been recent discussions of an increase in residence halls and campus growth, Foti said the Learning Community Program is more focused on creating chances for students to work together rather than merely living together.

“The new ones that we’re talking about really don’t have anything to do with residence halls,” Foti said. “They’re more focused on students who might be in a particular college and moving into a major program and would like to be in a learning community as a major. We will continue with residential learning communities [later].”

These learning communities will be available to a broader spectrum of students and are predicted to include more majors. Students interested may contact Sue Belatti, the assistant director of Learning Communities, at (928) 523-7614 or community@nau.edu.


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