Sophomore Scholars in Residence
Imagine taking a typical public policy class that comparatively examines healthcare systems in the United States and the developing world: you would spend your time reading a number of scholarly texts and articles, writing research papers and having engaging classroom discussions. Now, add-in a community-based learning experience within a healthcare setting or non-profit organization in the city of Richmond so that you can gain a local perspective on the issue.
Then, add two trips together to a rural community in the Appalachian Mountains and the capital of the Dominican Republic to experience first-hand what you have been reading and discussing in the classroom. And all the while you are living in the same hallway with the rest of the students in the class, and you have the experience of a Sophomore Scholars in Residence (SSIR) community at the University of Richmond.
An Integrative Experience
The SSIR program combines a traditional academic course with co-curricular learning activities throughout a student’s entire sophomore year. Each community consists of a one-unit course in the fall semester and a half-unit group project in the spring semester, with various co-curricular experiences that enhance learning. Throughout the year, students are working on both individual and group capstone projects that they present to the University community each spring.
SSIR students live together in co-ed residence halls surrounded by other SSIR communities, creating a unique academic community within the residence halls, so that students have opportunities to interact with students of differing communities, while having a shared experience. This experience supports the University’s larger strategic goals of an integrative and distinctive student experience.
In the 2017–18 academic year, one-fifth of the sophomore class will participate in one of ten SSIR communities available at the University of Richmond. Students who participate in living-learning communities represent a diverse cohort from various backgrounds, cultures and experiences.
The communities are small, with only sixteen students participating per community, allowing for great discussions and strong group-bonding and friendships to be made. Students have to apply to participate in a living-learning community. Students enhance their experience by leaving campus together as a community to participate in community-based learning, as well as traveling locally, regionally, domestically or internationally to experience first-hand and connect the classroom learning. All co-curricular costs associated with the course, including the community travel, are at no additional expense to students beyond tuition, room and board fees.
Every community has strong engagement by a faculty member who teaches the class, travels with them, serves as mentor to their research, and guides the community throughout the year. Students also participate in workshops and have interactions with staff from Career Services, the Speech Center, librarians, and the Bonner Center for Civic Engagement that complement and enhance their experiences. Communities also connect with the strong network of Richmond alumni working in or around the topic of the community.