Connecting advising, enhancing learning, engaging with community.

As freshman roommates and hallmates meet the new and challenging environment of college, they develop some of their most lasting friendships. For students participating in Living and Learning Communities - which combine the residential and academic functions central to a student's first year - the roots of these friendships become intellectual as well as social.

Learning Communities, a group of 9-12 freshman who are enrolled together in a class and live together on the same residence hall, are designed to bring together students, academic advisors, faculty, and peer mentors in a shared academic and co-curricular experience. They link the student to an academic advisor, to a course, and to the other students in his residence hall with the goals of creating a holistic learning experience that will improve the quality of classroom time, increase student success rates, and arm freshmen with the personal connections and decision making and self-advocacy skills essential to a successful and fulfilling college experience. From the very beginning, freshmen learn that Hampden-Sydney is a place in which ideas are not simply a part of the classroom, but rather a part of college life.

Application Process

After you have been accepted to Hampden-Sydney College and have submitted your deposit, you will be invited to begin the housing application process. As part of that process, you will have the opportunity to opt into the Living and Learning Communities Program. Communities for 2018-19 will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis starting in April 2018 with a deadline in May.

If you have any other questions, please contact Dr. James Frusetta | 434-223-7206

2018-2019 Learning Communities:


Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Michael Wolyniak, Elliott Associate Professor of Biology

This Living and Learning Community is designed specifically for those students who are interested in science, ethics, medicine, or any combination of the three.  The students in this community will be enrolled together in a Bioethics course that will be taught by Dr. Wolyniak (and fulfills a degree requirement). In class, students will grapple with ethical issues being confronted by doctors and scientists as we move further into the new century-whether stem cell research, human cloning or the value of data obtained at the expense of human life. Outside of class, students in this Community will be given special opportunities to meet with alumni who work in the biomedical fields and to attend colloquia that focus on basic and applied research in these areas. If you are a student interested in engaging some of the biggest questions facing modern society, this Community will be a fun experience for you!

For the Love of the Game

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Mr. Jason Ferguson '96, Director of Admissions

This Living and Learning Community is for baseball players and fans - for those who are coming to HSC to play or just those who enjoy hanging out and watching a game with friends. The Community is coordinated by Mr. Ferguson, who is a former Tiger ballplayer and a long-time youth Coach in the town of Farmville. Students in this Community will have the chance to work with the local youth league, attend local and regional games, and share their love of baseball. Students in this community will also be enrolled together in a section of Introduction to Psychology, which satisfies one of the College's core requirements.

This community is now full, and is closed to additional applicants.

Games: Modeling the Universe

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. James Frusetta, Associate Professor of History

This community is for students who like games - and are curious about how they "work."  Board games, RPGs, FPSs, LARPs, CCGs and strategy games all seek to simplify complex things. How do game designers do this? How do their "rules systems" work? What are they trying to do, and how do their creators try to appeal to us - or to fool us into thinking certain things are "fairer" or "more fun"?  You'll explore these ideas in a one-credit course taught by Dr. James Frusetta  - a faculty member who not only enjoys playing games, but who has published scenarios and even a gaming book. But we'll also connect to gaming opportunities on the campus including game nights, the gaming clubs, tournaments, and the College's annual 24-hour charity gaming marathon. If you like playing games - and especially if you like spading out how games work - this Community is for you.

Going Old School

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Caroline Emmons, Elliott Professor of History     

This Living and Learning community explores the history of Hampden-Sydney. One of the oldest colleges in the nation, it included among its earliest founders some of the most famous Virginians of the era, including James Madison and Patrick Henry - while Thomas Jefferson was among its earliest opponents!  Join Dr. Caroline Emmons of the Department of History as we explore the origins of the College through visits to local museums, historical sites, and battlefields - and consider it in the context of broader American history, enrolling in History 112 (which fulfills a degree requirement). As we consider these sites, we will think about the legacy of the College founders, including their role in helping shape the nation's founding principles, the slave society in which these men participated, and the ways in which their legacies still influence contemporary America. Afterwards, we'll gather for discussion - and maybe a little debate as we learn more about the College's historic origins.

Heroes and Villains

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Viktoria Basham, Visiting Instructor of Modern Languages

"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain," states Harvey Dent shortly before his transformation into Two Face in the 2008 Batman movie The Dark Knight. Being able to differentiate between 'good' and 'bad' and to tell a 'hero' from a 'villain' has become a challenging and complex task in the world that we live in. This Living and Learning community will trace the development of the terms 'hero' and 'villain' and discuss interesting shifts in society's perceptions of certain literary and film characters over time through texts, films, museum visits, field trips, and interactions with the Hampden-Sydney community. If you would like to improve your critical thinking and analytical skills and to develop a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of the nuanced perception of 'good' and 'bad' while learning about intriguing heroes and villains, this Living and Learning Community is for you! 

The History of German Soccer

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Joseph Rockelmann, Visiting Assistant Professor of Modern Languages

This community will examine the origin and history of German soccer. It will also study the German style of soccer and how the Bundesliga (Federal League) has become one of the strongest and well-known soccer leagues in the world. To better understand soccer and how the Germans play it, we'll watch historic games, films, and attend games at H-SC and DC United - and study teams from the first league together in a one credit seminar. If you play soccer, like soccer or are interested in German culture, then this Community is for you.


Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Col. Rucker Snead, Director of the Wilson Center for Leadership

This Community is ideal for the student who was a leader at his high school and who wishes to continue to develop his leadership skills while at College. Students in this Community will be enrolled together in a seminar exploring leadership taught by Colonel Snead. In class, students will read case studies and biographies of successful leaders and will learn how to identify the qualities and practices of these individuals. Outside of class, students in this Community will become involved in campus organizations, will have opportunities to meet with campus and community leaders, and will have special opportunities to be involved with events hosted by the Wilson Center. If you see yourself as a future HSC leader-perhaps a student body president or Student Court Chair or ROTC Battalion Commander-then this Community is for you.

This program is now closed, except for those now accepted to the Wilson Leadership Fellows Program.

Pets, Predators, and Prey

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Daniella Widdows, Director of Global Education and Study Abroad

This Living and Learning Community explores various symbolic and physical ways animals are integral to human culture, using ancient Greece and Rome as a starting point.  Animals surround us daily; they feed us, clothe us, help us at work and play, terrify and comfort us, amuse and challenge us.  We define ourselves through our relationships with them and discover the world through them. Join Dr. Widdows, Director of Global Education and Study Abroad, for this one credit course that will cover such topics as animal sacrifice, hunting, games, pets, and magical rites. 

Self and Society

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Gardner Harris, Assistant Professor of Religion

This community considers what it means to be human. The quest for understanding the nature of the self and the relationship an individual has to society and the wider universe has long preoccupied philosophers, artists, writers, poets, musicians, theologians, and scientists, to name a few. Students in this community will enroll in a one-credit seminar that will discussing "big ideas," music, film, technology, and current events. We will also visit museums, engage the local community, and, of course, eat together. Join this community if you are interested in further reflecting on who you are in relation to the social and natural worlds.  


Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Kristin Fischer, Assistant Professor of Biology  

Calling all mystery lovers - this living and learning community is for you! Students in this community will participate in a murder mystery dinner in the library. Each of us will playact a specific role as we try to figure who committed the crime. We'll also enjoy mystery movie nights and other events like dinners and tailgates.  All students will be enrolled in a four credit principles of biology course with laboratory (BIOL 110/151) that fulfills your core requirements for your degree. If figuring out whodunit excites you, come join this mystery solving community.

Words and the World

Coordinator and Academic Advisor: Dr. Robert Irons '00, Assistant Professor of Classics

This Living and Learning Community explores the relationship between a thing in the world and the word we use to describe it. How does the language we use influence how we think? How might our understanding of common life experiences be informed by the way we talk about them? In this Community - and the one-credit seminar students will enroll in - we will investigate these questions through the sustained reflection of words central to the individual interests of each student, to the College community as a whole, and to the greater world around us. And as we consider words, we'll explore the world around us - through hikes, campus tours, trips to town, and shared meals. If you're interested in language, writing or how we define the world around us, this is a community for you.