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UW-Eau Claire to establish Social Justice Living Learning Community

RELEASED: Dec. 15, 2009

EAU CLAIRE — University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students with an interest in issues relating to diversity and multiculturalism can join a new on-campus living learning community in fall 2010.

The 50 students — 30 women and 20 men — who opt to be part of UW-Eau Claire's first Social Justice Living Learning Community will live on the first floor of Bridgman Hall on upper campus during the 2010-11 academic year.

"This pilot program will build off the two existing living communities we have on campus," said Mary Duckworth, a residence hall director who is helping to develop the new living learning community. "But this will be the first living community on our campus that will directly connect to academics. It's very exciting."

Students in the living learning community will be involved in in-class and out-of-class experiences designed to develop a personal sense of social justice and provide ideas for how they can work for positive social change, Duckworth said. The learning community experiences will include specialized classes, speakers, field trips and service opportunities, she said.

"There will be events and programs held in Bridgman Hall that complement and enhance the curricular classroom components provided for the residents," Duckworth said.

Students who participate in the Social Justice Living Learning Community will enroll in two three-credit courses (one in each semester) that will be taught by UW-Eau Claire faculty, Duckworth said. Organizers hope those semester-long classes can be taught in a classroom in Bridgman Hall, she said.

Students and faculty are playing an active role in developing the Social Justice Living Learning Community, Duckworth said.

"As someone who has a great interest in social justice issues, I want to help create a community that will not only give students a safe space to live and share ideas, but will allow them to learn how to help themselves along with others," said Roxie Schmidt, a psychology major who is helping plan the learning community. "This community will show the fantastic direction this campus is headed in terms of making sure everyone feels confident and welcomed when walking around on campus."

Two living learning communities currently are offered on campus: a Global Living Learning Community and a Leadership Living Learning Community. Both have been popular with students, Duckworth said.

"Both of the existing living communities fill up quickly and the feedback from students has been very positive," Duckworth said. "Students appreciate the specialized programs and the opportunities to connect with other students with interests that are similar to their own."

Students who are in at least their second year at UW-Eau Claire will be eligible to participate in the Social Justice Learning Community, Duckworth said. Students must register for the program by Feb. 12, 2010, using an online application available on the Living Learning Communities Web page.

For more information, contact Mary Duckworth at 715-836-4386 or duckwomr@uwec.edu.

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JB/DW

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