College considers residential changes
By Sarah Koulogeorge
Published on Thursday, February 7, 2013
The College’s residential education office is exploring new ways to promote diversity and community learning on campus through integrated learning environments, which would incorporate academic experiences into other facets of students’ lives.
Over the past year, residential education has examined ways to increase the number of integrated learning communities on campus.
“Integrative learning is the ability to understand and connect meaning between all the experiences at college,” residential education director Michael Wooten said. “Learning isn’t only a part of the classroom, but rather a part of the whole college experience.”
The Dartmouth Plan prevents sophomores and juniors from experiencing the same continuity in a community that they experience during their freshman year. The residential education office must improve this continuity while encouraging interdisciplinary learning within residential environments, Wooten said.
In 1996, the residential education office created the East Wheelock residential cluster to provide students with the opportunity to integrate learning and social experiences. East Wheelock achieves this goal through a wide range of programming, including visiting scholars, performing artists and faculty members.
Feyaad Allie ’16, who lives in the cluster, said there are several benefits to living there, including free tickets to sold-out Hopkins Center events and opportunities to meet high-profile figures, including Madeleine Kunin, the first female governor of Vermont.
“I love living in East Wheelock, particularly because the community is very tight knit in my opinion,” Allie said. “Also, we get a great deal of opportunities ranging from tickets to see Hop shows to dinners with special guests. I would not want to live anywhere else.”
The residential education office is considering other types of communities that would include both the living and learning components of East Wheelock. Community development is still in its early stages and the new types of communities being considered have not yet been finalized.
The office has examined residential life models at other institutions, including the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland, which both have options for learning-centered residential communities, Wooten said.
“Although we don’t want to replicate what they are doing, we are looking at different ideas for our campus.” Wooten said.
He said affinity housing is another residential model that the office of residential education may expand, which would allow for greater contact between students and professors in residential settings.
Digital humanities professor Mary Flanagan said that learning cannot be fully achieved unless it is integrated in students’ everyday lives.
“I think one of the reasons students come to Dartmouth is that they expect to engage in intellectual conversations,” Flanagan said. “One of the ways we make sure we don’t lose that is to think about integrated learning.”
Alex Crain ’15, who lived in the McLaughlin residential cluster last year, said an integrative community would benefit unaffiliated upperclassman, who do not necessarily have a niche on campus.
“I think there’s a big difference for freshman housing, because freshmen live in the same dorm for the whole year,” he said. “This emphasis on community does not exist so much in upperclassman housing.”
Lily Michelson ’15, however, said that participating in extracurricular academic activities can serve to combine learning with other aspects of student life. Michelson participated in the Great Issues Scholars program at the Dickey Center for International Understanding last year.
“My housing experience has been pretty traditional,” she said. “If I wanted to find more academically oriented activities, I would.”
Amy Chang ’16 also said she likes the distinction between her learning and living environments.
“There is a lot of community where I live,” she said. “I like the fact that it’s separated from school, a place where you can wind down.”