Previous Learning Communities have included:

Sustenance Learning Communities

In 2006 about 55 faculty and administrators were involved in the Sustenance Program. These smaller learning communities met four times a year around a topic proposed by the convener. The Sustenance Program was supported by the Academic Vice President’s Office, the Graduate School, the College of Arts and Science, the Boler School of Business, the Shula Endowment, the Program in Applied Ethics, the Vice President for Student Affairs’ Office, and the Center for Teaching and Learning.

Communities, their topics, and activity reports were:

Economic Growth and Social Change in China

Convener: Susan Long (SC); Members: Robert Bloom (AC), Larry Cima(EC), Pamela Mason (PO), Keiko Nakano (CLML), Paul Nietupski (RL), and Roger Purdy (HS)

The China Learning Community met to read background pieces and articles submitted to the group by members. Over a Chinese carry-out supper, we discussed China’s increasing political clout in the international arena, competition for energy resources, and what the American foreign policy response to China should be. In particular, we spoke about Chinese violations of western standards of human rights and workplace environment, and how these relate to the lack of focus on the individual in the Chinese intellectual heritage. Meetings to follow include: one with the Mitsui lecturer and with Greg Saverese, the recruiter from the Jesuit Beijing Center, where we send our China study abroad students.

American Studies

Convener: Debra Rosenthal (EN); Members: Peter Kvidera (EN), Phil Metres (EN), David Robson (HS), Mindy Peden (PO), Marvin Richards (CLML), Daniel Kilbride (HS), Liz Stiles (PO)

The American Studies Sustenance group met in December at Anatolia’s Turkish Café to discuss two works in progress: Debby Rosenthal’s essay, “How to Do Things with a Letter: The Scarlet Letter and Performative Speech” and David Robson’s, “‘The Singularities of Their Behavior’: Rev. Charles Nisbet’s 1790s Critique of Methodism.” The group met to talk about Dan Kilbride’s current work on mid-nineteenth century American travelers’ reactions to 1848 European revolutions and to discuss Mindy Peden’s “Situating Race and Nation in the U.S. context.”

Hate Crimes

Convener: Richard Clark (SOC); Participants: Marcy Milota (Lib), Mary Ball (Coun), Jennifer Wells (SA), Sheri Crahen (Dean of Students), Doris Donnelly (RL)

Two goals for this learning community have emerged from our discussions. First, there was a desire to learn more about hate crimes, such as the origins of intolerance and disrespect, and the various mechanisms that others – particularly universities – have used to control this behavior. Second, there was a desire to pick a project with a distinct outcome such as a program or a paper. While we did not reach a consensus on a particular project, an extensive discussion was held regarding Women’s Centers and their possible value to women at John Carroll. Our discussion also involved the number of Jesuit Universities with Women’s Centers and some possible problems such Centers may face in Jesuit institutions.

Caring Faculty

Convener: Krystyna Fabrykowski Nowak (ED); Participants: Sophie Kus-Patena (Asst. Dean) Tom Kelly (ED), Sophie Romack (MML) Robert Windle (Career Services), John Mack (SA), John Scarano (Dir. Campus Min.), Ben Forbes (MML)

We pondered two major questions: “What do students need to become more caring?” and “How can John Carroll be a more caring community?” We explored preliminary ideas related to an ethos of a caring educational environment, including how students learn empathy, tolerance, courage, prudence, and honesty; how they recognize and accept their own flaws; and how they can learn to accept constructive feedback. Faculty discussed the idea that caring can be a complex and contested phenomena. Among the more than a dozen insights generated during this interchange, several emphasized that students need experiences through which they comprehend how their caring for others can make a difference; students need to learn empathy; and students need to experience community expectations about care and concern.


Convener: Jon Smith, (MML); Participants: Sophie Romack (MML), Nathan Hartman (MML), Hilary Flanagan (Dir. Career Ser.), Ben Forbes (MML), Duane Dukes (Soc), Paula Fitzgerald (Cam. Min.), Kyle O’Dell (SA), Ryan Knotts (SA), Lisa Ramsey (SA), Cynthia Scanlon (Career Ser.).

The Leadership Learning Community has two objectives related to leadership. The first is to provide an opportunity for those interested in leadership to share their perspectives on leadership and to explore ways that they might collaborate and learn from each other. Some possibilities are in research, student development and staff/faculty development. Because some members of the learning community are also participating in the Leadership Development Team Committee (sponsored by Student Affairs) which focuses on the development of student leadership, the learning community will consider how they might support and enhance this program.

The Role of the Intellectual in the 21st Century

Convener: Brenda Wirkus (PL); Participants: Marian Morton (HS), Jeanne Colleran (EN), Dianna Taylor (PL), Joe Kelly (RL), Jay Newhard (PL), Barbel Such (CLML), Leslie Curtis (AH), Paul Lauritzen (RL)

In her recent book, Precarious Lives, Judith Butler poses the question that will be the focus of the group’s first discussion: “If we are interested in arresting the cycles of violence to produce less violent outcomes, it is no doubt important to ask what, politically, might be made of grief besides a cry for war.” Among issues to be discussed are:

  • 1. How loss is related to renewed violence;
  • 2. The means by which some lives become grief-worthy, while others are perceived as undeserving of grief or even incomprehensible as lives;
  • 3. The political implications of sovereignty in light of the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay; and
  • 4. The anti-intellectual current of contemporary US patriotism and the power of censorship during times of war.

On-Line Learning

Convener: Mary Beadle (CO); Participants: Chris Faiver (ED), Kathy Roskos (ED), Jeanne Jenkins (ED), Kathleen Manning (ED), Sheila McGinn (RL), Doug Norris (MT), Jerry Moreno (MT), Ed Peck (Associate Dean)

The group decided that it would be helpful to have a demonstration of what can be done on-line. We have since planned some demonstrations by faculty who have received the Faculty Development Grant for Distant Education. The first demonstration will be by Jeanne Jenkins. The FLC members will also be discussing: “Harnessing Technology to Improve Liberal Learning,” published by Peer Review: Emerging Trends and Key Issues in Undergraduate Education.

Additionally, three long-term learning communities have developed into new interdisciplinary programs: