First-Year Student Learning Communities

A program for first-year students

Looking for a way to make sure you connect with other students when you start at Hamline? We’ve built a program designed to do just that and prepare you to succeed in your courses.

Benefits of joining a learning community:

  • Start your Hamline education with a built-in community. You and members of your learning community will take several courses together.
  • Make progress toward your degree. Your courses will be interconnected in an area of your choosing, and you’ll satisfy several Hamline Plan requirements.
  • Get priority registration. You’ll get early access to register for in-demand courses that are part of your cohort courses.
  • Enjoy exclusive events. Your learning community will also meet outside the classroom for fun and supportive activities like study groups, etc.
  • Free textbook rental. You’ll get free textbook rental for one term in your third year (a savings of at least $360).

Choose a learning community topic that interests you

Choose a topic, review the description and courses, and choose a learning community topic that sparks your interest.

  • Community, Justice, and Environment

    How can we make the world a better, safer place? It’s an aspiration that cuts across party lines and community borders. But the ways people answer—and the data they use, or misuse, to shape their answers—are the subject of endless debates, fuel countless click-baiting media frenzies, and lead to enormous sums of money thrown at solutions that might or might not work. This learning community starts by asking: What factors shape (or disrupt) social order, public safety, environmental well-being, and the common good? How do different factors end up shaping different outcomes for different community members? And how can—and how do—organizers and citizens make their communities safer and more just for all?

  • Evidence and Delusions

    Did you ever wonder, "How do we know what we know?" Or, "How do we distinguish between truth and delusion?" Join this learning community to consider such questions as “What makes us have ‘strange’ beliefs?”, “How do we know if one thing causes another?”, “What is ‘good evidence’ and who decides?”, “How does believing differ from knowing?” Together, we will explore how we “know what we know” and how different fields of study approach knowledge, evidence, and data. This learning community will capture students interested in studying a variety of topics, as everyone will benefit from understanding the data that drives our lives. No knowledge of statistics or data science is expected to join this learning community, just curiosity and a desire to learn.

  • From Then to Now

    This learning community will explore the connection between ancient and modern — how ideas and culture developed in a particular place and time, and how they have evolved over the last 2,500 years, transplanted in many parts of the world. How we today use this rich cultural heritage, invented and reinvented over the centuries, to express private feelings as well as register our reaction to political and social happenings.

  • Human Worlds

    Humans are world-makers. Through the things we build, the ideas we imagine, and the stories and performances we share with one another, humans make shared understandings about our planet and the lives we have with other beings. The variety of human differences, and our shared solutions to living—our cultures—make studying humans deeply fascinating. How do humans build and unbuild our socio-cultural worlds? Living in a contemporary world powered by fossil energy that is changing our planet’s atmosphere and climate, how do we address change?

  • IMPACT Scholars

    Identity, Multiple Perspectives & ACTions (IMPACT) Scholars!

    We will look at identity as it might be defined biologically, culturally, or through the lens of how educational roles are depicted in movies. We will also consider how power is deeply connected to identity. As part of this multi-course journey, you will reflect on the various aspects of your identity as you share these experiences with a group of peers. You will also have the opportunity in your learning community classes to consider how you can act to overcome any barriers society might place on people from particular identities (the ACTion part of impact scholars). Each course in the learning community will not only explore identity, but also your own personal power and ways to more effectively use it to effect change in the world.

  • Politics of Passion

    This learning community will explore and articulate the political landscape we find ourselves in today through the lenses of political science, religious studies, and anthropology. We will consider the following kinds of questions: How did we get to this point of such stark political division in our country? How do people’s religious ideologies and readings of scripture shape current public policies? How is music political, and how can music help us consider new political possibilities? How can passion be political? More broadly, we are interested in inviting students to analyze how passion, deep values, and beliefs interact in the political sphere, while also discussing how our own passions compel us to engage in politics … or not. This learning community would be well suited to students interested in political science, religious studies, and anthropology, among other related majors.

How to sign-up to be a part of a learning community

Once you’re in Workday (we’ll get you started at orientation), you will

  • Step 1: Select an "anchor course"
  • Step 2: Select the FYSEM that is part of your selected learning community (information above)
  • Step 3: Save your schedule in Workday
  • Step 4: Register


  • Step 1: Select the FYSEM that is part of your selected learning community (information above)
  • Step 2: Enroll in the "anchor course"
  • Step 3: Save your schedule in Workday
  • Step 4: Register