Amber Horn

Eat, Sleep and Learn

St. Kate's expands option for living and learning communities.

By Pauline Oo

It's been five years since the last Harry Potter novel was published, but the boy wizard and his friends live on at St. Kate's. This year, Residence Life is partnering with Professor of English Cecilia Konchar Farr to offer a year-long living-and-learning experience based on her popular Harry Potter course.

The Gryffindor Tower Learning Community is located on the fourth floor of Caecilian Hall, and its residents are required to take the four-credit course "Introduction to the Novel" this fall. The course pairs class discussion and written assignments around the seven Harry Potter novels with themed activities — such as trivia and movie nights — in the residence hall.

"Residential learning communities are a great way for students with similar interests to gather and learn," says Residence Life director Heidi Anderson-Isaacson, who started theme housing at St. Kate's about six years ago. "We're offering five this year, and each community is open to students of any academic major."

Konchar Farr, who studies popular literature, bestseller lists and book clubs, says: "My goal is — always — to find the playfulness and joy in reading books. When you pair that with the critical and analytical skills we access when we talk about books, reading clearly becomes a valuable lifelong pursuit for educated women. Having the activity nights in between class nights in this learning community format makes that pairing easier."

In addition to Gryffindor Tower, St. Kate’s offers:

American Sign Language Living-Learning Community on the first floor of Morrison Hall. Students must have a basic ability to communicate in ASL. Elizabeth Siebert, assistant professor of ASL and interpreting, is working closely with the residents on themed activities and has weekly office hours at the hall.

Antonian Honors Learning Community on the fourth floor of Carondelet Center, adjacent to the St. Paul campus; residents can tap Gayle Gaskill, English professor and Honors Program director, for advice and support.

Wellness and HealthCARE Learning Community on the first floor of Rauenhorst Hall; Carol Geisler, assistant professor of holistic health studies, has weekly office hours at the hall and offers programs that support the theme.

Global Perspectives First-year Community in Crandall Hall; language assistants and faculty from the Department of International Languages and Literature are collaborating with hall staff and students on various themed programs.