Leader-Scholar Communities bond over research projects

Afternoon-long symposium showcases solutions to systematic societal issues

Photos/Julian Cardillo
They may be some of the newest members of the Brandeis family, but this crop of first-year students has plenty of innovative, clever and practical ideas to improve society.
That was evident when students in the Leader-Scholar Communities (LSC) presented their projects addressing a range of issues, including health, government, and household economics, during an afternoon-long symposium in the Shapiro Campus Center on April 29. The topics represented the LSC’s three main focus areas: media and politics, global perspectives and leadership in health and medicine.
Formed three years ago, the LSC gives first-year students the opportunity to live in the same residence hall with classmates who share a common academic interest.
“We’re trying to choose topics that are of strong interest to students,” says Senior Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Elaine Wong. “Our students are naturally very interested in leadership, health and medicine and global perspectives and politics, which allows us to connect them with faculty in the humanities, arts and sciences.”
The symposium was the culmination of a year of research and proposal writing. LSC requires its participants to enroll in a two-credit, letter graded practicum course taught by a graduate teaching fellow each semester. At the fall semester, students select groups and research problems regarding one of LSC’s focus areas. By the end of the semester, the groups craft a proposal for addressing one of these problems and, in the spring, work on presentations and initiatives that attempt to provide a possible solution.
Projects ranged from promoting sexual health, to encouraging student entrepreneurship, to making public spaces more environmentally friendly.
One group, specializing in health and medicine, researched how to improve college students’ diet and nutrition.
“There’s not someone cooking for you so you can lose control of your own diet and schedule,” says Miriam Hood ’18. “This can make balancing your fitness a problem, which is key because fitness and health affect your performance in and out of school.”
Hood and her peers resolved to create a campus-wide event in which nutritionists and dieticians came and spoke to students about how to improve their eating habits. They also circulated flyers and an online video that demonstrated healthy practices.
The projects, which were mostly showcased via PowerPoint presentation and poster board, were small in scale but focused on improving larger, more systemic societal issues.
“The students are really understanding how to make projects that teach them how to make real social change,” adds Wong. “One of the aspects of this program is to teach first-years how to be leaders and scholars. We’re trying to get them to learn how to participate in social change, develop their leadership skills, and work in teams.”

Categories: General, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Technology, Student Life

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