Connecting advising, enhancing learning, engaging 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.

Freshman should consider joining a Living and Learning Community because it gives them a chance to fully immerse themselves in an interesting topic by living with the very people they go to class with every week. Communities were made under this pretense of learning, but the friendships forged with your community show the real value.

Christopher De Salvo ‘21

2024-25 Learning Communities

The Magic of Movies & Music

Advisor: Dr. Victor Szabo, Department of Fine Arts
Do you find yourself spending your free time seeking out new music, or streaming random movies your friends told you about? Do you call yourself a cinephile and/or an audiophile? Do you love disappearing into your headphones or a big movie screen? If so, you will probably enjoy this living and learning community on the magic of music and film. Students will be enrolled in Music 103: Understanding Music through Film, an EL-ON course that satisfies a Compass requirement in the Humanities as well as the College’s core requirement in Fine Arts. In class, you will investigate how music contributes to the experience of film, study the history of film music, and learn to create your own original film scores. Outside of class, you will have the opportunity to become involved in various H-SC clubs including the Music Production & Performance Club, Tiger Radio, and the Film and Television Club. We will also spend time outside of class together attending film screenings and music concerts both on and off campus.

Hunting & Fishing in Virginia

Advisor: Dr. Matthew Christopher Hulbert, Department of History
Are you a hunter? Are you interested in learning about the sport, discussing the ethics and principles of hunting, or in making friends on campus that share your interest? If you answered “yes” to any of those questions this Living & Learning community is for you. Discussions will revolve around ducks, deer, and everything in between, as well as recent news related to hunting in Virginia and beyond. We’ll also have a catered film night! Students in this community will be enrolled in Dr. Hulbert’s HIST111: America to 1865 (fulfilling a general education requirement), which will involve its own fair share of the outdoors and an on-screen encounter starring Leonardo DiCaprio and one very annoyed grizzly bear.

The Environment and the Great Outdoors

Advisor: Dr. Scott Starr, Department of Biology
Are you interested in environmental issues? Do you enjoy spending time outdoors? Are you interested in completing the environmental studies minor? Do you enjoy exploring the woods, streams, and lakes surrounding campus and throughout Virginia? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then this is the living & learning community for you! Group activities will include hiking, kayaking, environmental movie night, and other activities. You will be enrolled in Dr. Starr’s BIOL 108: Environmental Biology course, which is one of the introductory courses for the environmental studies minor and fulfills a class for the college’s core natural sciences and mathematics requirements.

Snacks Around the World

Advisor: Dr. Tara Stephan, Department of History
Description:  If you’re interested in exploring the world, learning about different cultures, or just like to eat, this Living and Learning Community is for you!  We will use snacks and food as a gateway into a different country each month, considering the tastes and flavors, what people choose to eat for fun, and how the snacks compare to one’s popular today.  The students in this group will also take Global Cultures 103 in the Spring semester with Dr. Stephan, fulfilling a requirement in the Core Curriculum, providing academic study of diverse societies and experiences alongside culinary explorations.  Activities will include trying snacks from snack boxes, watching films related to food and culture, guest appearances from faculty with expertise in different cultures, and other activities throughout the year. Join Dr. Stephan, professor of Middle Eastern history, and try some snacks!

The 2024 Election

Advisor: Richard Burke, Department of Government
Do you love politics? Would you like a space to discuss politics with others? Are you eager to know who is going to win the 2024 presidential election? If so, this Living & Learning community is for you. Together, we will participate in election-related festivities, have a debate-viewing party, and unpack the election’s results and consequences. Students who choose this Living & Learning community will be enrolled in GVFA 101: Introduction to American Government, which will help place the 2024 election in the broader context of American government and how it works. This course can be used to satisfy the College’s Core requirements for Social Sciences or American Studies.  

Whitewater Canoeing and Astronomy

Advisors: Jonathan Keohane, Department of Physics and Astronomy & Scott Schmolesky, Director of High Adventure
Are you interested in exploring lakes and rivers by canoe, and want to learn how to navigate mild rapids? If so, then this learning community is for you! We will paddle nearby waterways while the weather is warm. Meanwhile, you will be enrolled in Introduction to Astronomy with Laboratory, which fulfills the College’s laboratory science core requirement. No prior experiences in astronomy or paddling is required. Students will be enrolled in Freshman Astronomy in the fall semester.

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 will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis early in the spring with a final deadline in May.

If you have any other questions, please contact Dr. Matthew Hulbert. | 434 223-6215

"I am a shy person by nature, and while I was excited to enter college, I was worried about creating an entirely new circle of friends in a strange place where I did not know anyone. The Living and Learning Community that I was part of helped ease that worry for me. I lived in a dorm hallway with all the freshmen who were in the same Living and Learning class as I was, and I quickly built up my own circle of friends. The class was fun, it challenged us to work together as students and as friends, and it gave us a reason to spend time together. The Propaganda Living and Learning Community was a big part of my freshman year, I would recommend it 100 percent to any incoming freshman!"

— Jacob Whitney, ‘21