Students enrolled in a Learning Community take one or more courses together. They also live together on the same floor of a co-ed residence hall and attend some of the same lectures and field trips. These living and learning environments focus on shared, active learning, linking academic and out-of-class experiences and developing strong bonds with faculty and fellow students. Learning Community students tend to achieve higher grade point averages, make friends quickly and transition into college life smoothly.

Please note: Learning Community students live in co-ed housing. That means, they share a room with a same-gender student but the floor they live on is co-ed by room. If you are interested in living in a single-gender residence hall, you cannot be in a Learning Community. Additional information on Living Learning Communities housing is available here.

To show your interest in a Learning Community, you must select one or more First-Year Seminars that are also Learning Communities when completing the Academic Directions task on the Orientation website. You may also indicate your interest in the space that asks for additional information on the Academic Directions task.

There are currently two different kinds of learning communities available at Hobart and William Smith, each allowing students to connect their academic experiences with an additional academic or social experience in order to provide students with a more integrated approach to learning in the first year.

Linked Pods: Your First-Year Seminar is linked to another First-Year Seminar. As a group, the Seminars will enjoy common lectures, field trips, and other special events throughout the academic year.

Linked Course: Your First-Year Seminar is linked to a second academic course taken during the Fall semester. Your professors will work together to link the courses through common readings, themes, and projects. FSEMs with linked courses are listed below:

Fall 2020 Living-Learning Communities

  • FSEM 010 Beyond the Straight and Narrow, Brandon Barile
  • FSEM 011 Britpop, Robert Carson (linked with FSEM 112)
  • FSEM 042 Interrogating Race US & S Afr, James McCorkle
  • FSEM 078 Sustainable Living & Learning, Darrin Magee, Robinson Murphy, Kristen Brubaker
  • FSEM 112 Music and Ethics, Katherine Walker (linked with FSEM 011)

Fall 2020 Learning Communities

  • FSEM 111 Paris, Je T'Aime
    Students enrolled in FSEM 111 will also be enrolled in any FRE language course.
  • FSEM 145 Einstein, Relativity, and Time
    Students enrolled in FSEM 145 will also be enrolled in Calc I or a higher math course.
  • FSEM 180 The Blue Planet
    Students enrolled in FSEM 180 will also be enrolled in GEO 186, Introduction to Hydrogeology.
  • FSEM 078 Sustainable Living and Learning
    Students enrolled in FSEM 078-3 and FSEM 078-1 will also be enrolled in ENV 110, Topics in Environmental Studies.

Four Reasons to Join a Learning Community

  1. A higher first semester GPA
  2. Strong ties with faculty members
  3. Out-of-class activities, including field trips and lectures
  4. A built-in network of friends who share your experiences and help you through the process of transitioning to college life

“The experience of pairing courses has allowed me to be more comfortable in both classes because my classmates are more familiar and I am not afraid of sharing my thoughts and ideas with them. It is also nice to be constantly surrounded by fellow students who can help and encourage me when the work gets tough. Without this situation, I may not have been as focused and comfortable in class and as diligent about doing my homework.”

“We do more than work together. We have fun together and help each other. We accept each other’s strengths and weaknesses and learn from each other.”


“I learned how to think abstractly, how to compare two seemingly different topics and find their connection. I was also much more comfortable in these classes because I was with people I knew. I feel like I learned more from the combined courses because the discussions could bring in information from both courses, making us see connections and think more critically.”

“We have become extremely close very quickly, and we have created a supportive net to fall into. We made it a point to take care of each other, to meet before leaving the dorm, to check in with each other on our first assignment, and to spend time with each other outside of class. This has made my transition to college easier in an immense way.”

“I was able to know my fellow classmates better by having paired courses. Also, it seems to me that I am closer with my two teachers than any other professors on campus.”

“Participating in activities together, living together, and always knowing you have someone to sit with at a meal makes the fast transition of college much easier.”


Preparing Students to Lead Lives of Consequence.