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

2023-24 Learning Communities

At the Movies

Academic Advisor: Dr. Katherine Weese, Department of English
This living and learning community will focus on how cinema can enrich our lives, both as an object of study and as entertainment. Students will be enrolled together in English 257: Fiction Into Film, an EL-On course that satisfies both a Compass requirement in the Humanities and the College's core requirement in literature. We'll explore how stories are told differently when they move from the printed page to the silver screen, and student will make their own short film as part of the course's experiential component. Outside of class, students will have the opportunity to become involved in the H-SC Film and Television Club, in which they'll help plan club activities and meet upperclassmen interested in film. The group will also participate in other extra-curricular film activities such as on-campus screenings and lectures/discussions and take some field trips off campus to see new releases in the theater or to attend film events in the surrounding area.

Games: Modeling the Universe

Academic Advisor: Dr. James Frusetta-Ulfhrafn, Department 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 off-campus. If you like playing games - and especially if you like spading out how games work - this Community is for you.

Hunting & Fishing in Virginia

Advisor: Dr. Matthew 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.

Medicine: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Advisors: Dr. Sarah Hardy, Department English and Assistant Dean & Dr. Michael Wolyniak, Department of Biology
What does it mean to practice medicine? There is much more to the study and practice of medicine than basic science, and this Community invites students of all interests to consider medicine from a variety of different perspectives. Students will enroll in two linked classes: the first course, “Bioethics” with Dr. Michael Wolyniak, considers the many difficult choices that need to be made by doctors every day and takes a historical perspective to see how society has dealt with such diverse issues as eugenics, genetic engineering, and equitable treatment of patients. The second course, “Literature and Medicine” with Dr. Sarah Hardy, examines medicine from a Humanities perspective and reveals how we can learn about the ways in which medicine was perceived in different cultures and societies over time through contemporary writing. The two classes will be organized such that class discussions and assignments will overlap each other, and students will satisfy both the Literature requirement and a science requirement towards graduation.

Revolution! Ideas, Movements, and Leaders

Advisor: Dr. Andre Pagliarini, Department of History
“Revolutions are the only political events which confront us directly and inevitably with the problem of beginning,” Hannah Arendt wrote. If you are excited by politics, history, and debate over new beginnings, heed the call and join this group! We will consider revolutions across time and space, asking what makes something or someone revolutionary, how revolutions succeed or fail, and what role individual leaders play in revolutions. We will watch movies, share meals, and engage in occasional role play as we think about leadership and the ideas that spark deep historical change. Students in this group will enroll in HIST 209, fulfilling a general education requirement in international studies or in social sciences.

Truth and Lies

Advisor: Dr. Miranda Rouse, Director of the Rhetoric Studio
Distinguishing the line between truth and lies is often not as simple as it seems on the surface. When a person is deciding whether they should tell the truth or tell a lie, they usually contemplate how each outcome could affect them. Notably, exploring the intention behind telling a lie will help to determine whether the lie is acceptable or “bad”. Challenging terms, investigating definitions, and considering societal influence can disrupt what we know and understand about deception. This group will explore truth, lies and deception together.

Whitewater Canoeing and Astronomy

Advisors: Dr. Jonathan Keohane, Department of Physics and Astronomy, and 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.

US Military & National Security

This community is exclusively for those in the Wilson Leadership Fellows Program. While you may register for this community, only those who apply and are accepted to the Wilson Leadership Fellows program or who are participating in the Army ROTC or Marine PLC Prorgrams will be eligible for final acceptance.
This Community is for the student who wants to learn more about the US military and its evolution from its founding to its role in today’s national security. Students in this Community will be enrolled together in a seminar, “US Military and American Society: Ideals, Institutions, and Issues.” In class students will analyze the evolution of warfare and the US Military; study the expansion of the tools of national power; and examine the current issues impacting the national security of the United States. Outside of class, students will participate in several exercises and attend events on topics dealing with national security. If you are interested in pursuing possible careers in the national security arena in fields such as diplomacy, intelligence, military, law enforcement, homeland security, or emergency management, this is the community for you.


Advisor: Dr. Janice Seigel, Department of Classics
This living and learning community is for students who marvel at how the Zombie Craze continues to sweep the world like a juggernaut. What accounts for our fascination with these brain-dead, flesh-eating monsters and the worlds they inhabit? Why does the mere mention of the Zombie Apocalypse trigger the emotions it does (and they can be different for each person)? What mythic truths do zombie scenarios explore? And what makes the undead unique even among other monsters? Are they a metaphor for something else, or is sometimes a zombie just a zombie? What do Zombie Virus Outbreak movies teach us about what it means to be human, and how we might need to evolve to face such a new world order? Are peri- and post-Covid zombie apocalypse productions different from those that pre-date Covid? Do they somehow reflect our recent pandemic lockdowns, anxieties, and sense of loss? Students in this community will be enrolled together in a one-credit hour seminar where we will watch a number of zombie-themed films and television shows produced by a variety of cultures and countries, and perhaps also play video games, read fiction and graphic novels, and consider scholars’ opinions on the topic. Extra-curricular events may include hosting a costumed event on campus and participating in a 5K Zombie Run or Zombie Mud Run.

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