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Issue Date: October 2005 Issue


Learning by Living

Kent State University


Myra Orenstein

Students at Kent State University have discovered that their college education will most likely take them beyond the classroom. “Learning by living” has become their credo.

Kent State students are gaining hands-on experience with professionals in their field as part of a learning community at the Kent campus, in businesses and venues affiliated with Kent’s seven regional campuses, and in Florence, Italy, where students in architecture, fashion design and art study and learn among the classics.

On the Kent campus, the College of Communication and Information (CCI) brings together students in several distinct but related academic disciplines to create a truly collegial environment. Here, a community of students, scholars and professionals engaged in gathering, organizing and communicating information are unified for the first time this semester in CCI Commons, a new theme community.

“Students will have the opportunity to collaborate with others who share academic and professional interests, be mentored by upper-division students and participate in residence hall programming geared to those fields of study and their professional and scholarly work,” says CCI Dean Dr. James Gaudino.

Dr. LuEtt Hanson, associate dean of CCI, says students don’t all live in the same hall or take classes together; however, all majors within CCI are eligible to participate. The program is predicted to grow from its present 90 students to 750 students.

The learning and theme communities are meant to bring together students with similar interests, allowing them to interact on a regular basis outside the classroom, says Kelly Ney, a senior learning community coordinator at residence services.

CCI students come from the Schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, Communication Studies, Visual Communication Design and Library and Information Science. CCI Commons joins approximately a dozen other themed and learning communities on the Kent campus, including those for education majors, business students and science majors.

The mingling of different talents may create interesting connections. “For example, a journalism student might know a visual communication design student who lives down the hall, and they may join together to create a class project, utilizing the talents that each brings to the table,” Gaudino says. “They will learn from each other, and in the long run, better prepare themselves for careers after graduation.”

On the Geauga and Salem campuses, students are being trained for one of Kent State’s hottest majors, the associate of applied science degree in horticulture technology.

With homeowners spending more on developing and maintaining their personal landscapes and a shortage of trained technicians and managers, Kent State established the program in 1991 through the financial challenge of Davey Tree Expert Co.

The newest “laboratory” in the curriculum is the Draime Legacy Garden, a gift to the university from D. Max and Cecile M. Draime, both Kent State alumni. The 10-acre estate, with its exhaustive plant inventory and specialty garden, makes the Kent State program one of the most unique in the country. Students are required to complete 60 hours of coursework and two diverse internships prior to graduation.

“The demand for our summer interns and graduates continues to grow at an incredible pace,” says Chris Carlson, director of the horticulture technology program at Kent State Salem and associate professor of biological science. “We cannot satisfy the industry needs; our graduates are instantly a hot commodity as soon as they finish school.”


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