Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Join The Voice, a First-Year Learning Community!

We are very excited to be sponsoring a First-Year Learning Community this coming year. A Learning Community is a cohort of students who live together on the same residence hall floor and take some, but not all, of their classes together. TheVoice: Communicating for Social Change gives first year students who are interested in getting involved in the community an opportunity to live and work together. Many students find Learning Community membership to be one of the best parts of their first year because it’s a great way to meet new friends right away, connect with faculty and staff, and make a big university feel small! Start your story at NEBRASKA by being an inaugural member of this exciting community!

The Voice: Communicating for Social Change would be an especially good fit for anyone interested in volunteering, discussing controversial topics, or interested in a career in government, law, or non-profit organizations. As a member of this First-Year Learning Community, you would live on the same floor as other members of the community in Abel Hall.

Members of The Voice will take three courses together, including Public Advocacy and Civic Engagement, Rhetoric in a Digitally Networked Age, and Communication in the 21st Century (all of which will be ACE certified to help meet general education requirements). Each of these courses will focus on the central role of communication in solving society’s problems, how to advocate on behalf of a cause, and how to organize for social change. Although the Department of Communication Studies offers all of these courses, you do not have to be a Communication Studies major to be a member of The Voice.

Students will also be invited to exclusive events and activities, designed specifically for The Voice, such as meeting with visiting speakers and service projects. Such activities include:

*interacting with members of the traveling British Debate team after they participate in a public debate against members of UNL’s Speech and Debate Team. Each year, two representatives of the British debating community tour the United States. That trademark British wit will be on full display! 

*participate in the UNL-sponsored “Alternative Spring Break.” Each year, UNL organizes Alternative Spring Breaks—in 2012, students are rebuilding fence in Ainsworth, NE, helping Habitat for Humanity in Saint Louis, and building an urban garden in Denver. Participation in alternative spring break will be voluntary, but the costs are kept low and the rewards are high!

Students on Alternative Spring Break
*organize “flash forums” around breaking news. Learning Community members will help bring members of the UNL community together around pressing issues. If there is a civic issue that could benefit from community discussion, we will use social media to organize a “flash forum” (like a flash mob, but less weird) to spark conversation.

*we will also have some social activities like bowling and watching a movie together at the Mary Riepma Ross Theater.

Students can apply to be a member of a First-Year Learning Community on their Housing Contract, which is available within two weeks of when the UNL enrollment deposit is submitted. If students have already completed the Housing Contract, they can edit it to add a First-Year Learning Community preference. All contract edits and new contract submissions related to Learning Communities must be completed by April 1, 2013.

The faculty co-sponsors, Dr. Damien S.Pfister (dpfister2 [at] unl [dot] edu) and Dr. Carly S. Woods (cwoods3 [at] unl [dot] edu), would be happy to talk to any interested students about this opportunity. You can also learn more at or contact Learning Communities staff with questions at learningcommunities [at] unl [dot] edu or (402) 472-7128.

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