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First-Year Learning Community

Plants, Food and the Environment:  A First-Year Learning Community at Berry

What is a Living Learning Community?

A Living Learning Community is a group of students who live together and share two to three courses that focus on a common theme.    

This fall at Berry, a select group of first-year students will participate in the PFE Learning Community.  Students in this group will be housed together and will enroll in two of three common courses focused on the theme of plants, food and the environment.  In addition to sharing classes and a living space, students will engage in co-curricular activities that enhance classroom learning and foster connections between academic learning and practical experience.  PFE students will also be enrolled in BCC 100, First-Year Seminar, and their First-Year Mentors will be housed with them. 


SPT 164: The Biology of Useful Plants.  Humans could not live without plants—we obtain valuable resources and receive essential ecosystem services from them.  However, we often ignore the plants around us or treat them as somehow “less alive” than animals.  This course will focus on the many things plants do, and the essential biology behind the foods, fibers, dyes, fuels, medicines, beverages and other products we obtain from plants.  This course satisfies Foundations Outcome 4D: Scientific Inquiry

RHW 102: Rhetoric and Writing. Writing well involves more than just choosing the right words or mastering certain rhetorical strategies; good writing demands deep engagement and understanding with one’s subject.  In this course, our discussion and writing will focus deeply on questions about food.  How do our food choices impact our own health and the health of the environment? What are our responsibilities to the plants and animals we eat as food, to the people who raise our food and to those without access to healthy food?  In addition to lots of reading and writing, we will do a bit of cooking and eating. Fulfills Foundations Outcome 1A-B:  Rhetoric and Writing.

ENV 150: Environment, Society and Culture. The range of complex environmental issues confronting humanity, not to mention the future of other biological occupants of the planet, can easily cause one to become overwhelmed or depressed.  This course, however, provides empirical data and cross-cultural examples that enable rational discussion, reflection and empathy, which facilitates consideration of novel options and the development of innovative, sustainable approaches to resource management. The course prioritizes familiarity and engagement with the local watershed (bioregional approach) and threats to sustainability therein, and provides opportunities to explore the human-environment interface firsthand on the Berry campus and just beyond.  Fulfills Foundations Outcome 3a, b, or c: Intercultural Knowledge

Why Participate?

A Living Learning Community maximizes the benefits of both residential living and academic learning:

  • Living among your classmates creates opportunities for shared learning from organized study groups to casual conversations on the hall to late-night paper writing sessions. 
  • Sharing classes with your residence hall neighbors facilitates relationship building, which eases the social transition to college. 
  • Enrolling in courses that address similar content from different disciplinary approaches encourages you to integrate your learning and deepen your understanding of the issues you are studying.
  • Co-curricular activities designed to take you out of the classroom and residence hall and into the campus and community will enhance your classroom learning and allow you to test theories in the real world.
  • The Living Learning Community offers increased contact with your First-Year Mentor as well as out-of-class activities with your course instructors and first-year advisors.

What are the requirements for participating?

Course Requirements


Housing Requirements


Co-curricular Requirements

Other Requirements
  • Comply with all requirements of Viking Code
  • Enroll in 12 or more hours per semester

How do I apply?
Complete this brief online application before May 15. Students will be notified of their placement in the LLC prior to attending SOAR in June.