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How to advocate and create a living learning communities

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Creating new living learning communities on your campus can be an intimidating task full of red tape and roadblocks in the form of funding, support, and finances. However, when pulled off, a new living learning community on campus has the unique opportunity of being able to access a large number of students, encouraging progress in innovative and entrepreneurial activities, while giving the students the opportunity to learn more deeply in their area of choice increasing GPAs and later success. To create a living learning community means working with residential housing, faculty, advisor boards, financial advisors, and other students. Balancing these demands can be very difficult, so University Innovation Fellow Corey Brugh of Colorado School of Mines answered some questions about his own experience and how to help other fellows pursue similar changes on their campus.


Before there any steps are taken towards creating a new living learning community, there needs to be a purpose or measurable goal in place to steer the progress of the community in the right direction. At Colorado School of Mines there was a growing desire from successful alumni to expand and improve the Entrepreneurial programs on campus. This encouragement started the ball rolling to look into potential solutions and ways to improve. As a traditionally military focused school, there was little need desire or ability for students to start up businesses after college. However, now with increasing civilian numbers, demand is growing. Additional research from faculty showed that a living learning community introducing entrepreneurialism could be a desirable addition to the class offerings. From the expressed interest of graduated alumni, the opinion of current students was identified. Now, a living learning community could be developed to suit their and the university's needs.


The Living Learning Community content represented in this newly minted class needs to reflect the purpose for which it was created. For Colorado School of Mines, this meant modeling the Living Learning Community after the popular business pitch TV show Shark Tank. Students spend the majority of their semester researching a topic and creating a business plan around it. At the end of the living learning community, their final grade is determined by a panel of judges evaluating the progress and quality of their proposed startup.

Student Participation

Student participation is a necessity for any living learning community to survive in a university. Corey acted as a student ambassador for the living learning community and frequented business lecture halls, major specific study areas, and public gathering places to give a face to the program and collect contact information to keep students informed of sign up deadlines and other developments.

Student Ambassador(s)

After approval for a new living learning community has been granted, it is necessary for the fellow or other student representatives to bring the class to the attention of their fellow students. Enough students will have to have already shown enough interest in the class for it to have made it this far. However, for a living learning community to grow in popularity, a group of student ambassadors for the class needs to reach out and contact other students in their university.

Faculty Cooperation

As the title of this guide indicates, working with faculty is one of the main parts in creating new living learning community. Faculty have the know-how of the inner workings of the school system, and can get a living learning community funded, approved, planned, and taught faster than any coalition of students. However, this also means working with and adjusting plans to fit these professionals' opinions and advice. One of the reasons the program at Norwich is able to exist is because of the support of multiple faculty members. Without their assistance, the work facing a group of students can seem too daunting for puruit. Thus, here are a few of the ways that faculty can help you.


The curriculum in the living learning community "Intro to Entrepreneurship" that Corey worked to implement was based off of pre-existing business, engineering, and entrepreneurism classes, but tweaked enough to give it the innovative flare that warranted making it a separate living learning community. Having a model to base a newly formed class' curriculum on is helpful. It allows those in charge to edit and adjust the elements that weren't working in the previous living learning community and make the improvements visible in the form of a new class.

Financial Support

In addition to helping form the curriculum, faculty such as professors are the closest access most students have to grant money. Inspired by outside interest, the program was funded and backed internally through the university, especially the Student Life Office.


One of the potentially biggest hurdles to conquer in implementing a new class is finding someone to teach it. Just like the other complex issues in this process, this too can be made easier with faculty assistance. The current professors will likely know if someone would be interested in teaching the living learning community and can put you in contact with them.

Interdisciplinary Involvement

The program at Colorado School of Mines is a class offered through the business college. However, Corey is an engineer and acknowledges the fact that it can make it difficult for many engineering students to participate in this new development. In this case, if it is currently not in the cards to create a mutlidisciplinary living learning community at your university, do the best you can. For Corey this means that although the class is business oriented now, in the future the students exiting the class with potentially valid startup ambitions can team up with engineering students in a maker space that is currently in the works.

Words of Advice (Tips & Tricks)

New living learning community availabilities for students to register in should be announced as early as possible. Announcing living learning communitys weeks after most students have finalized their schedules can make it difficult to encourage them to join the class.

Find students and faculty who are at least as passionate about encouraging the growth of I & E on your campus as you are. Working with them will make the entire process easier and allow for word about the living learning community to spread faster.