Transitioning into college as a freshman can be tough, especially if you are new to the surrounding area. Place-based learning communities at Humboldt State University strive to ease this transition by providing social and academic aid for incoming science students.
A new place-based learning experience is expected to take off in the fall semester of 2018 and will be available to Marine Biology and Oceanography freshmen. The Rising Tides program will be overseen by HSU Botany professor, Frank Shaughnessy.
Two communities already implemented on campus include Klamath Connection and Stars to Rocks.
Shaughnessy has been involved with Klamath Connection since its beginning in 2015 and says it served as a model for the following place-based communities on campus.
With only 14 percent of incoming HSU freshmen being local, many struggle to adapt and settle into the new environment away from home. Shaugnessy says through place-based learning, freshmen build connections before their semester even begins and learn to “survive and adapt.”
As part of a place-based learning community, students can choose to live with other freshmen in the program who share similar interests as them. Students also collaborate on a year-long linked project.
Shaughnessy says the main reasons for student success in Klamath Connection and Stars to Rocks has been the social peer support system these programs help set up.
The new Rising Tides program will focus on exploration of marine life and science in the outer coast Trinidad and compare it to that of the inner coast of Humboldt Bay through field study. The program also includes explorations of Native American life in these areas.
Currently, the program has close to 20 faculty and staff members on board and is working on developing close working relationships with the Wiyot and Yurok tribes of Humboldt County, as well as the Trinidad Rancheria.
Approximately 50 students are expected to take part in Rising Tides in the fall of 2018. The program begins with a 5-day summer immersion before the semester and introduces freshmen to fellow students, professors and faculty on campus.
Despite the programs being science-oriented, they are cross-disciplinary and implemented in students’ classes outside the science field.
Two more project-based learning communities are planned to roll out within a couple years.