- Last Updated on Wednesday January 23, 2013
Overheard -- In the Cambridge Community Quad:
“Good morning Dr. Crocker.”
“Hi Chris. How’d that calculus exam go?”
In the Cumberland Hall, First-Floor Hallway:
“Becky, do you have a minute to look over my résumé?”
“Sure do. I’d love to hear more about your internship opportunity.”
The above exchanges appear fairly normal, exchanges one might expect at a small liberal arts college. For close to two decades, these and countless other similar exchanges have been overheard between senior faculty, advisors and first-year students at a large, research-intensive, public university – the University of Maryland. Community is at the heart of living-learning programs, and is the foundation of College Park Scholars.
History -- The roots of living-learning programs (LLPs) can be found in the “social clubs” of Oxford and Cambridge, replicated in early America at institutions of higher learning such as Harvard, Princeton and Yale. Over time, various other colleges and universities have adapted the LLP model. But the explosion of LLPs, particularly at large, research-intensive universities, was driven by the analysis of Ernest Boyer and his associates, in their petition for higher education reform, during the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
Maryland’s Response -- Maryland was quick to respond. While serving as Dean for Undergraduate Studies, Distinguished History Professor Ira Berlin was committed to ensure that students, from the first day they set their feet on campus, would take advantage of all the resources available to them -- in his words, “making the big store small.” Not surprisingly, under Berlin’s tenure as Dean, College Park Scholars was born.
One of the characteristics of successful LLPs is a vital student affairs and academic affairs partnership. At Maryland, this partnership is taken seriously. As Resident Life staff foster their community living principles: Be safe; Be civil Be cooperative; and Be involved, these principles are reinforced in the classroom, field experiences and team efforts of College Park Scholars. That which is debated in the classroom, resonates in follow-up discussions in the residence and dining halls. Similarly, experiences on the playing field or on the residence hall floor can provide insightful context to issues being discussed in the classroom.
Research on LLPs has identified a broad array of purposes. Some serve as honors programs; others reinforce disciplines of study. Still others focus on recreation, civic or leadership initiatives. Rather than expand or replicate Maryland’s existing Honors program, in launching College Park Scholars Dean Berlin – together with a handful of the college deans – committed to creating a number of interdisciplinary communities. This was driven by their understanding that the complexity of the challenges facing society today, requires solutions informed by multiple perspectives and expertise. Providing those future experts an opportunity, early on, to understand how those with expertise in other disciplines think and approach problems, and experience in working with them on teams,
Finally, as Charles Schroeder observed in 1994, “learning is not a spectator sport.” Educators can be highly prescriptive and student affairs administrators can highly design their residential environments. For a living-learning program to be successful, it requires students to be involved and invested. College Park Scholars relies on its students to strategically build their community through peer initiatives, such as mentoring, tutoring, and an advisory board. Over time, these initiatives have evolved and changed along with students’ needs and interests.
So, should you attend an admissions information session at the University of Maryland, you might just overhear the following:
“College Park Scholars is a living-learning program that provides all the benefits of a residential college with all the advantages of a research-intensive university – located a Metro ride away from the Nation’s Capital.”
For information on all living-learning opportunities at the University of Maryland, visit: http://resnet.umd.edu/llp/.