Learning communities come in many different flavors but at their core they are usually curricular structures that connect two or more courses around a common theme to be taken by a cohort of students. Some are purely residential, some are for residential and commuting students, and still others have no residential requirements. A learning community allows for interaction with others who share similar interests, thereby developing a common commitment to each other's personal and academic success.
In addition, ongoing interactions with peers and faculty members assist students in making personal meaning of their academic experiences. A learning community is geared to make a student’s transition from high school to college easier. As students experience new freedoms along with new routines and challenges, a learning community helps them get on the right footing and provides ongoing support to make any necessary adjustments through the first year and be successful as they move towards graduation.
Bellarmine University has six learning communities (brief descriptions below). Five are focused around a curricular theme (Brown Leadership, Eureka, Galileo, Environmental, and Honors) and one (Pioneer Scholars) is extra-curricular in nature and is designed specifically to support first generation students through social networking and peer mentorships.
Brown Leadership Community
The Brown Leadership Community is a two-year program for first and second year students (residential and commuter) that develops and integrates leadership, civic engagement, and critical thinking skills of young men and women by addressing the benefits, responsibilities, and opportunities for leadership and service. Students join the Brown Leadership Community as first year students. The Brown Leadership Community is open to all majors except those majoring in the health sciences, sciences, and mathematics. Social justice is the bedrock upon which the Brown Leadership Community is grounded as exemplified by Bellarmine University’s mission to “develop the intellectual, moral, ethical, and professional competencies for successful living, work, leadership, and service to others.” As community members progress through the classes and co-curricular activities, they develop an understanding of these challenges and opportunities, first at the Bellarmine community level, then within the Louisville community, and into the global community. Residential students in the Brown Learning Community will live together on two floors of Petrik Hall which is designated as the first year learning community residence hall. Brown Leadership Community members cannot belong to any other learning community except the Pioneer Scholars Program (must be a first-generation student – see description below). Learn more on our Brown Learning Community page.
Eureka Learning Community
All first through fourth year Bellarmine students (both residential and commuter) majoring in Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Computer Science and Computer Engineering can join the Eureka Learning Community. All incoming National Science Foundation (NSF)-STEM scholarship recipients are required to participate in the Eureka Learning Community and will reside together in the second floor of Siena Quarto. Throughout their college years, members of the Eureka Learning Community will receive strong academic support and counseling, faculty and peer-tutoring, group study sessions, research opportunities with faculty, and innovative out-of-class activities that has been designed by their respective department. Eureka Learning Community members will be closely mentored and advised by a designated faculty in their respective major to ensure satisfactory performance and successful completion of degree from Bellarmine University. All Eureka members are strongly encouraged to take part in faculty mentored research projects in their respective major, and will have an opportunity to present their research work (talks and posters) at local, state, regional or national scientific conferences or meetings in their respective fields. Eureka Learning Community members cannot belong to any other learning community except the Honors Program and Pioneer Scholars Program (must be a first-generation student – see description below). Learn more on our Eureka Learning Community and the NSF-STEM Scholarship page.
Galileo Learning Community
The Galileo Learning Community is for first year students (both residential and commuter) and focuses on the exploration of the connections between the Mind, Body, and Spirit. Galileo is specifically designed for students majoring in the health sciences (Exercise Science, Pre-Nursing, Respiratory Therapy and Medical Lab Science) and those thinking of a career in the medical sciences (usual majors are Biology and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology). Galileo students take five courses together (three in the fall and two in the spring) as well as engage in an extensive array of co- and extra-curricular activities linked to the Galileo theme. Residential students in the Galileo Learning Community will live together on two floors of Petrik Hall which is designated as the first year learning community residence hall. Galileo Learning Community members cannot belong to any other learning community except the Pioneer Scholars Program (must be a first-generation student – see description below). Learn more on our Galileo Learning Community page.
The Honors Program provides enrichment opportunities for exceptionally talented, creative and academically committed students and seeks to create an intellectual community in and extending beyond the classroom walls. The program connects students with Bellarmine’s best faculty through small classes and participation in out-of-class activities. Students learn in a collaborative environment where their ideas and research are treated with respect. As a community of scholars, students and faculty work enthusiastically to achieve the following objectives:
In addition to developing higher order skills in self-expression, critical thinking, information gathering and problem solving, students will
- understand complex issues from diverse perspectives
- write analytical or scientific papers of substantial length and depth
- participate in learning experiences outside the classroom
- be provided a competitive advantage in pursuing graduate education
Learn more on our Honors Program page.
Pioneer Scholars Program
The Pioneer Scholars Program is a first-year experience program for first-generation college students designed to offer these students greater support and direction regarding the academic, social, emotional, and financial aspects of college success. The program focuses on the intricacies of transitioning from the high school environment to the college atmosphere by introducing students to resources available to enhance and promote overall success as a student and young adult.
Through small groups, the students are introduced to other first-generation college students in their incoming freshman class, assigned an upperclassman first-generation college student mentor, and connected to resources that will help students become engaged and succeed on campus.
Pioneer Scholars can also be members of any of the other learning communities at Bellarmine. Learn more on our Pioneer Scholars page.
Rachel Carson Environmental Learning Community
The Rachel Carson Environmental Learning Community (RCLC) at Bellarmine
University is a program for 20 first-year residents and commuters majoring in
environmental disciplines or demonstrating exceptional interest in sustainability.
These students will support each other in the courses they take together, in
environmentally conscious living, in service projects benefitting the greater
community, and in co-curricular experiences such as hiking and canoeing.
RCLC students will also take care of the Bellarmine fruit and vegetable garden,
and will get a chance to prepare some of the harvest for their own meals.
Learn more on our Rachel Carson Environmental Learning Community page.