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RLC Classes

Nine CyPhi residents are crowded around a table in Market Square, eating lunch and still buzzing about the discussion in their Nature & Imagination class that morning. Who would have guessed (imagined?!) that twenty eight students would have twenty eight different visions of paradise and the quest for paradise in nature? The debate, enthusiastically moderated by their instructor Sherry Booth, raged for nearly the entire class. And with class over, the students continue to wrestle with the thorny but intellectually exciting issues that arose.

What’s going on here? It’s simple, really: all twenty eight students in Nature & Imagination live together on the same floor in the CyPhi Residential Learning Community (RLC). Because everyone knows each other, they enjoy rolling up their sleeves and really digging into the topics they’re studying. As Ryan Smart ’14 says, “The community we’re building as a floor just furthers the sense of community in the classroom. Whether academically or socially, our floor is constantly growing closer and understanding more deeply.”

Students at Santa Clara have been taking classes with others in their RLC for over a decade. But recently some RLCs have begun to link courses to individual floors in the building, which students say enhances the whole RLC-ness of these classes. They make for “more in-depth discussions,“ says Rachel Flanagan ’14, “and allow students to relate to one another academically on a more personal level.“ Adds Dominique Troy ’14,“I can literally knock on anyone’s door and have a conversation about the latest writing assignment.”

It’s not just the students who enjoy these floor-linked classes. “I've discovered,”says Dr. Booth from the Department of English, “that the floor-linked classes are significantly different because of the high level of engagement - engagement of students with the course readings, in discussions, with each other, and with the professor.” But it’s about the fun, too, notes John Farnsworth, an instructor in environmental writing and literature who teaches two different floor-linked classes in CyPhi. “Two weeks ago we all walked back to the residence hall together after class. We were still discussing the day’s topic when the elevator arrived. No one wanted to stop, so the entire class tried to jam in together. Everyone was laughing so hard we couldn’t continue our conversation!” And at the end of the quarter Farnsworths Environmental Studies class is going out for dinner and a play, which has everyone really excited. “It’s going to be a marvelous evening!”

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