Learning Communities (LCs)

Learning Communities are a valuable part of the PLU experience, adding to the learning that happens in the classroom and beyond.

All first-year students who enroll in a First Year Experience Program (FYEP) 101 course will be linked through that course to a Learning Community (LC). LC linked courses provide opportunities to connect with community both inside and outside of the classroom, through co-curricular opportunities throughout the first year. Students who participate in LC linked courses have increased community and academic support to promote success in their first year at PLU! Additionally, residential students experience a further connection between their LC linked course and the theme of their residence hall. By participating in LC linked courses, your classmates become your neighbors.

Learning Communities are for all PLU students. At PLU, every residential student (including first-year, new transfer, returning, and upper division) is part of an LC, by year at PLU and/or by theme. Additionally, first-year commuting students participate in LCs via their enrollment in FYEP 101 linked courses; after their first semester, returning commuting students (and New Transfer commuting students) are invited to continue (or begin) participation in LCs through co-curricular opportunities that are offered every year.

Learning Communities at PLU: Students who participate in LCs, especially those that have a linked course, have increased critical thinking & academic outcomes, faculty & peer interactions, sense of belonging & satisfaction, and diversity awareness & openness to new ideas.

Learning Communities (LCs) Themed by Identity/Interest

The Community for Creative Expression is for students interested in a co-curricular focus on creativity and innovation across all disciplines. 

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of creativity.

Connected Residence Hall: Hinderlie Hall. This hall has mixed-gendered wings with gendered bathrooms and one Gender Inclusive Housing wing.

The Contemporary Issues Community is a First-Year Interest Group that promotes engagement with current topics, issues, and events that shape one’s understanding of politics, policies, and priorities in the world. For example, students will have opportunities to consider questions such as: What impact does the presidential election have on the future? What international policies impact me while living in the U.S.? How does climate change affect the world?

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of Contemporary Issues. 

Connected Residence Halls: Harstad Hall [for residents who do not opt into the Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equity LC], Pflueger Hall, and Tingelstad Hall [for residents who do not opt into STEM or Wellness Houses]. These communities have gendered wings with gendered bathrooms; if you identify as Trans* or Gender Nonconforming, please contact Residential Life for additional information.

The Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability Community is for students interested in gaining an increased understanding of their cultural identities through reflection on values while learning how to create positive change in their communities. This community focuses on intersectionality across the following three sub-communities:

  1. First in the Family For students who are first in their families to attend college (first-generation students whose parents did not graduate from a four-year, degree granting institution in the U.S.) with support to connect them to resources for success in and out of the classroom.
  2. Students of Color For students who identify as People of Color (or not White) who are interested in exploring their racial and ethnic social identities and cultures.
  3. Environmental & Social Justice For students who are interested in exploring the intersection of social justice and environmental justice and translating this knowledge into positive social change through leadership and action.

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of diversity, social justice and/or sustainability.

Connected Residence Hall: Ordal Hall. All DJS communities are located on Gender Inclusive Housing wings.

Gender Inclusive Housing is for students who want a gender inclusive living experience. Features all-gender wings with gender inclusive bathrooms that have enhanced privacy (open to all users, regardless of sex assigned at birth or gender identity). Single rooms and gender inclusive rooms are an option for students for whom sex assigned at birth does not match gender identity. There are various Gender Inclusive Housing options across campus: one wing in Hinderlie Hall, one wing in Tingelstad Hall, all wings in Ordal Hall (including Lavender Community – see description below), and all wings in Stuen Hall. Note: Residents of South Hall apartments may choose to make their apartments Gender Inclusive Housing.

Hong International Community (Global Engagement & Language Immersion Theme) is for students who are interested in a global study focus. This LC offers language-immersion (Chinese, French, German, Norwegian, Spanish) and International Honors (IHON) connected experiences. 

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of global engagement. 

Connected Residence Hall: Hong Hall This hall has mixed-gendered wings with gendered bathrooms.

Lavender Community is for students who are interested in exploration of the LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, +) social identities through conversations, activities, and reflection. 

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of social justice. 

Connected Residence: Ordal Hall (on a Gender Inclusive Housing wing).

The Self & Society Community is a First-Year Interest Group that promotes reflection on identity development, both one’s own identity as an individual as well as group identity formation, within the cultural/era contexts of local, national, and/or global communities. For example, students will have the opportunity to reflect on the following questions: What does it mean to be educated? What is a “good life”? What does it mean to identify with particular cultural and/or religious groups? What role does counterculture play in the mainstream culture?

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of Self & Society. 

Connected Residence Halls: Harstad Hall [for residents who do not opt into the Women’s Empowerment & Gender Equity LC], Pflueger Hall, and Tingelstad Hall [for residents who do not opt into STEM or Wellness Houses]. These communities have gendered wings with gendered bathrooms; if you identify as Trans* or Gender Nonconforming, please contact Residential Life for additional information.

STEM House is for students interested in learning about the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and/or Mathematics). This community is great for intended STEM-related majors and also for those not majoring in STEM who would like to continue their learning on these topics. 

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of scientific inquiry. 

Connected Residence Hall: Tingelstad Hall. This community has gendered wings with gendered bathrooms; if you identify as Trans* or Gender Nonconforming, please contact Residential Life for additional information.

Wellness House is for students interested in conversations and activities that promote and sustain healthy lifestyles, including transitioning to college in a way that develops healthy habits around mindfulness, diet, exercise, substance use, time management, and mental health. 

All first-year LC members will co-enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of wellness. 

Connected Hall: Tingelstad Hall. This community has gendered wings with gendered bathrooms; if you identify as Trans* or Gender Nonconforming, please contact Residential Life for additional information.

Women’s Empowerment and Gender Equity Community is for women-identified and Transgender/Gender Non-Conforming students with a focus on gender equality, community building, and programming that explores gender and empowers women. 

All first-year LC members enroll in a linked First Year Experience Program (FYEP) writing 101 section on the topic of gender equity. 

Connected Residence Hall: Harstad Hall. This hall has women-identified wings and women-identified gendered bathrooms; if you identify as Trans* or Gender Nonconforming, please contact Residential Life for additional information.

Learning Communities (LCs) Themed by Year at PLU

Traditional Residence Halls: Transitioning Into PLU Traditional residence halls include: Harstad Hall, Hinderlie Hall, Hong Hall, Ordal Hall, Pflueger Hall, and Tingelstad Hall. Many of our traditional residence halls are configured by First Year Wings (Note: Hong is the one exception, as Hong is configured by language/IHON wings):

  • First Year Wings For first year students, staffed by returning student leaders (Resident Assistants) to assist in the transition to PLU and the Parkland/Tacoma community. First Year Wings are located in traditional residence halls: Harstad Hall, Hinderlie Hall, Ordal Hall, Pflueger Hall, and Tingelstad Hall.
  • All residential first-year students who enroll in a First Year Experience Program (FYEP) 101 course will be linked through that course to a Learning Community that corresponds either:
    • with their themed residential LC (e.g., Hinderlie, Hong, Ordal, some Tingelstad [STEM House, Wellness House], and some Harstad [those who opt into a themed LC]) -or-
    • with a First-Year Interest Group LC created by linking courses of similar topics (e.g., Self & Society, Contemporary Issues) together and pairing these courses with co-curricular opportunities throughout the first year (e.g., Pflueger, some Tingelstad [First-Year House], some Harstad).

Traditional Residence Halls: Transitioning Through PLU Traditional residence halls include: Harstad Hall, Hinderlie Hall, Hong Hall, Ordal Hall, Pflueger Hall, and Tingelstad Hall. Many of our traditional residence halls are configured by New Transfer & Returner Wings (Note: Hong is the one exception, as Hong is configured by language/IHON wings):

New Transfer and Returner Wings For new transfer & continuing students (second year and beyond) with programming centered around academic support and major/career exploration. New Transfer and Returner Wings are located in traditional residence halls: Harstad Hall, Hinderlie Hall, Ordal Hall, Pflueger Hall, and Tingelstad Hall

Upper Division Halls: Transitioning to the Future/Career Preparation are for students who are 20+ years or who have 60+ credits, these communities promote an independent living experience to support students as they transition into post-collegiate life. Upper Division student housing is located in Stuen Hall and South Hall.

Learning Communities Philosophy

Residential Life works intentionally with PLU community members — students, faculty, and staff alike — to develop diverse Learning Community (LC) offerings across eight residence halls. The communities are organized across a variety of themes: some academically focused, some by interest/topic, some by social identity, and some by the stages students find themselves in at PLU. Each one continues to be developed with care, with student input and comparison research. The learning communities are assessed on a regular basis so Residential Life can understand how effective and meaningful they are for the students who choose to live in them. Learn more about the PLU history of LCs and research supporting this learning model.

Most importantly, ALL students — residential and commuter — are welcome in all of the halls and all of the LCs. Everyone is invited to most hall programs. Students are invited and encouraged to visit halls and wings even if they don’t live there, to make friends with peers, learn from offerings, and connect with faculty and staff.

Some students choose communities based on academic interest, such as an immersive language wing in Hong International Hall or in the STEM House in Tingelstad. Other students pick their campus home based on an area of interest, such as Hinderlie’s Community for Creative Expression or Tingelstad’s Wellness House. We also know some students prefer to live with a diverse group of peers in communities that are not organized by topic. So, we have intentionally held spaces that connect students based on their transition into, through, or out of PLU: for first-year students, new transfers and returners, and upper-division students.

Several of our newer communities, built around social identities, are a direct response to students who voiced a need for affinity spaces. Students told us those spaces were in demand, and we listened — especially to those who identify with historically marginalized and underrepresented communities. For students who opt into these affinity spaces, it’s an important step in finding a sense of belonging at PLU. They are a home from which the rest of the PLU experience can be explored.

Students actively choose the themes centered on social identity. For example, residents of the Students of Color Wing (in Ordal Hall’s Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability community) chose to live in that space because they self-identify as a Person of Color and are interested in learning alongside other students who identify in similar ways. This also is true for our Lavender wing in Ordal (for LGBTQ+ identified students) and First in the Family wings in Ordal Hall’s Diversity, Justice, and Sustainability community (for first-generation students). These identity-based communities provide an intimate, cohort experience for students who want to intentionally engage their social identities in their learning at PLU.

If you are curious about a particular Learning Community or residence hall, we encourage you to learn more! If you are a prospective student or community member, feel free to explore our Learning Community (LC) web pages and/or email the Community Director who works with that LC. If you are a current student, we welcome you to come to a program, get to know the Residential Life staff and ask us questions, or get to know your peers who live there to understand why they chose that space and what they love about that community.