When Dani Bembry (COL ’15) returns to her dorm in Kennedy Hall, sometimes class is just getting started. Bembry is one of 11 students in “College, Culture and Conflict,” a new seminar that houses students together in the Hill River City Living and Learning Community.
“It seemed like a different and quirky new idea to have a living and learning component to the class. I just thought off the bat it seemed really interesting,” Bembry said.
LLC resident Neve Schadler (COL ’15) said that living with her classmates enhances her academic experience.
“It’s about the education experience — not just the academic life but the residential life of living with other people and growing with them,” Schadler said. “There’s a level of trust and familiarity that makes the academic experience so incredible.”
Taught by College Associate Dean Tad Howard, a faculty-in-residence for Kennedy Hall, the seminar looks at the history of conflict and possible solutions for college education in America.
The LLC was dubbed Hill River City after Fr. Tim Healy, S.J.,’s seminal talk, “The Hill, The River, The City: Meditations on a Bicentennial,” which addressed Georgetown’s identity as a D.C. institution as well as a university.
“It’s a beautiful reflection on where Georgetown had come from, what had changed, what had remained constant and what lies ahead,” Howard said.
As a faculty-in-residence for Kennedy Hall for the past seven years, Howard has enjoyed the unique connection that he has with the university and the students.
Howard, who has taught the class for the past four years, saw a living learning community as the perfect opportunity to bridge the lessons and history of the University with academic life in an organic way.
Cross-listed with American Studies and Humanities and Writing II, the course has drawn a diverse cross-section of students, including several first-year and transfer students.
“There are a lot of transfers in the class and they’re able to talk about their college experience before Georgetown and compare it to now. I think that adds a really unique dimension to the class,” Bembry said.
To keep the class lively, Howard holds the seminar in a variety of settings based on lecture content. For a recent lecture on the history of the sciences at Georgetown, students went to class at the Heyden Observatory.
“We went up there and we had been talking about the relationship between science and education. We were able to see Georgetown’s history with that,” Schadler said.
Students also meet weekly for breakfast in Howard’s living room where they discuss topics unrelated to class.
“Our hour-long breakfast allows us to explore campus and do unconventional things,” Bembry said. “We did an activity where we talked about ‘What’s music?’ and just engaged in a debate about relativity in the curriculum.”
Although the four-credit class will last only one semester, there is a single credit course in the spring for students to compare what they learned in “College, Culture and Conflict” with one of their spring courses.
“I want them to talk interdisciplinarily and make it painfully smashed together,” Howard said.