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Learning Communities

Helping you adjust to college life on The Cliff ...

Here at Briar Cliff, every first-year student belongs to a learning community. You’ll get to pick one as soon as you enroll at BCU. Each community has a different theme, but the same purpose: for you to find a group of friends and professors at Briar Cliff who are passionate about the same things as you.

You’ll take a few of the same classes, team up on a service project and adjust to college life together. So take a look — and think about which one is right for you!

Briar Cliff's 12 Learning Communities

Click on a group's name for a full description:

Oh, the Places You'll Go

LITERACY, EDUCATION

Oh, the Places You’ll Go! »

This community equips students to become active agents in literacy and education in our community.  It challenges students to examine the importance of education and developmental programs for youth. Through reflection, service, discussion, and personal and academic skill development community members will work to find their place at BCU while empowering youth to ignite a passion for learning. We will partner with Beyond the Bell and other after school programs in the community.

ADVISORS:

Matthew Pangborn
Associate Professor of English and Writing; Modern Languages Department Chair
712-279-1638
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Justin (Jay) Rhodes
First-Year Academic Advisor, Multicultural Program Coordinator
712-279-5512
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Alicia Harper
First-Year Academic Advisor, Leadership & Service Coordinator
712-279-5497
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Learn Without Boundaries

SPANISH, MULTICULTURAL

Learn Without Boundaries »

We live in an ever diversifying world and the need to speak multiple languages is vital to our global society. This learning community will work to develop our Spanish speaking while examining what it means to be a successful student, where we will be sharing our gifts with a broader community. We will partner with the Mary J Treglia Community House, a community agency working with immigrants and neighbors in the Siouxland area.

ADVISORS

Willie Suarez, PhD, MA
Assistant Professor of Spanish; Adjunct Instructor, Doctor of Physical Therapy* program
712-279-5457
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April Allen
First-Year Advisor
712-279-5429
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Tell me Where it Hurts

NURSING, HEALTH SCIENCES

Tell Me Where It Hurts »

All health care providers – nurses, physicians, physical therapists, dentists, and so forth – care for people in pain, either physical or emotional pain. This learning community examines how to apply the Franciscan values to careers in health care. If you desire to someday be a compassionate and reflective health care provider, join us in “Tell Me Where It Hurts.” We will partner with the June E. Nylen Cancer Center and the American Red Cross.

ADVISORS

Richard Petersen
Associate Professor of Nursing; Graduate Nursing Program Director
712-279-1662
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Catherine Grimsley
Instructor of Nursing; B.S.N. Program Director
712-279-5507
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Ways of Science

NATURAL SCIENCES

The Ways of Science »

Intended for biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or environmental science majors, this community examines global environmental issues related to technology, energy production, and pollution. We will partner with local environmentalists to take our learning outside the classroom to the Sioux City Prairie.

ADVISORS

Daniel Jung
Assistant Professor of Biology
712-279-5467
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Ted Bryan
Associate Professor of Chemistry
712-279-5574
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Paul Weber
Professor of Chemistry
1980
712-279-5482
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Everybody Knows Your Name

COMMUNITY BUILDING

Where Everybody Knows Your Name »

New classes. New friends. New teammates. New living situation. The familiar life you had three months ago is gone, and you’ve got to start all over. Starting over is very exciting, and a little bit scary (even if you don’t want to admit it). The goal of this learning community is to help focus your energy on the pathways to and the challenges of building yourself a new community, a place where everybody knows your name. We want you to go beyond learning about yourself and your classmates. We will take our work to the youth of Siouxland, too, as we partner with the Sanford Community Center and other youth development focused organizations.

ADVISORS

Michael Crowley
Associate Professor of Mass Communications; Chair of General Education
712-279-5459
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Brenda Parkhill
Director & Counselor
712-279-5232
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Carla Grey
Tutoring Coordinator, Writing Specialist
712-279-5233
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Door No. 3

LEADERSHIP, CREATIVITY

Door #3 »

This community explores how St. Francis embraced unconventional methods to solving problems. The goal is for students to grapple with decision-making and ultimately take ownership of their choices. As an extension of our work, we will partner with local shelters to identify factors leading to homelessness. More importantly, we will use our Franciscan values and education to work to make a community impact.

ADVISORS

Shannon Beller
Assistant Professor of Graphic Design; Design Editor for The Briar Cliff Review
712-279-1601
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Tricia Currans-Sheehan
Professor of English and Writing; Editor of the Briar Cliff Review
712-279-1651
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Paul Korchin
Assistant Professor of Theology; Department Chair
712-279-1704
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Finding a Place in the Space

NATURE & DISCOVERY

Finding A Place in This Space »

Joseph Brodsky writes that "geography blended with time equals destiny." Our learning community will explore the idea of how where we are impacts who we are. We'll spend time critically thinking, researching, discussing, and writing about where we're from, where we are, and where we might be going. Our geography is about so much more than us as students. This community is for those with a mind for all things living: environment, animals, and each other. We'll engage our campus & Siouxland community developing personal awareness and examining interconnections — with one another and with the whole of creation. Our community partners will include local animal shelters and nature preservations. Francis will be our tour guide!

ADVISORS

Nathan Probasco
Assistant Professor of History, Honors Program Director
712-279-5473
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Matthew Pangborn
Associate Professor of English and Writing; Modern Languages Department Chair
712-279-1638
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Ashley Pawlowski
Area Coordinator, Alverno and Toller Halls
712-279-1721
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Next Generation Leadership

HUMAN RIGHTS, LEADERSHIP

Next Generation Leadership »

Students will embark on a journey of past and current events, protests, movements, and human rights violations to help build their cultural awareness throughout the semester. Through class assignments, engagement, and volunteering opportunities students will learn where they fit in the world and how they can be impactful leaders. This class will be a discussion based, interactive course that looks at generational sexism, racism, classism, and ageism and the changes to society over time. Students will leave this course with a better understanding of diversity, community, and caring in order to shape their leadership for the next generation. We will collaborate with local social justice organizations to learn about the importance of advocacy and social change.

ADVISORS

Meghan Roe
Instructor of English & Writing; Writing Center Director
712-279-1627
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Justin (Jay) Rhodes
First-Year Academic Advisor, Multicultural Program Coordinator
712-279-5512
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Alicia Harper
First-Year Academic Advisor, Leadership & Service Coordinator
712-279-5497
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1,000 Miles

HUMAN SERVICE

1000 Miles »

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step” (Lao Tzu). You too are at the beginning of a momentous journey. Everyone’s path in life is unique, but we all share at least one simple thing in common: each of us has to take that single first leap into the unknown. You are not alone. We will make this trek together. “1000 Miles” will help you discover your own pathway by connecting with and serving individuals who are on their own very special, unique journeys. You will learn that reaching out and helping others on their paths will help you to discover the route of your own. We'll be partnering with Gigi's Playhouse, Camp High Hopes, Mid-Step Services, Opportunities Unlimited, Pier Center for Autism, and Special Olympics to embody and breathe life to our pursuits. These organizations and the individuals and families they serve model for us how we might find and make more harmonious relationships within the world, our neighborhoods, our friendships, and within our Self. We’ll move amongst people in our community who need our support, and in doing so, we will help ourselves. “1000 Miles” isn’t for the timid. Expect to have your minds stretched & challenged, your hands worked, your feet worn, your hearts expanded, and your souls lifted.

ADVISORS

Ryan Allen
Associate Professor of English and Writing
712-279-5211
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Wendy Brame
Associate Professor of Sociology; Department Chair of Sociology and Criminal Justice
2010
712-279-5492
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April Allen
First-Year Advisor
712-279-5429
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All is Well

HEALTHY LIFESTYLES

All is Well »

Our world’s population is becoming less active and there is a strong need to encourage those around us to live a lifestyle that encourages making smarter health choices. This learning community examines the importance of bringing health and wellness into our lives, locally as well as globally.  You will learn that reaching out and helping others through their health journey can help you within your own goals of living an active lifestyle.  Through class discussion, engagement, reflection and service opportunities, students will learn how to incorporate St. Francis’ Franciscan Values: all is well in the world when we focus on peacemaking, serving others, creating a caring community and reverencing creation.   We will partner with a Siouxland organization to promote and enhance fitness and wellness within the community.

ADVISORS

Michelle Schaper
Head Softball Coach
2008
712-279-1686
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Alicia Harper
First-Year Academic Advisor, Leadership & Service Coordinator
712-279-5497
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Explore Your World

COMMUNITY EXPLORATION

Explore Your World »

In the true ways of St. Francis our community will take the opportunity to explore and appreciate the world around us. We will work together to discover the community of Briar Cliff University, Siouxland, and beyond! Through class discussion, engagement, reflection, and service opportunities, students will learn how to incorporate Franciscan values in all we do.

ADVISORS

Angela Houk
Head of Public and Research Services
712-279-5442
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Erin Small
Director of New Student Programs
712-279-5393
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You ARe Here

DIVERSITY, COMMUNITY

You Are Here »

Look around you. You are surrounded with new people, from new places. We all have one thing in common, though. We are here, at BCU. Together, we will work through our first semester together on a process of self-discovery and interconnectedness. In the ways of St. Francis, we will work to build common understanding of the many differences we each bring to this place. You are here. We are here, together. 

ADVISORS

Wendy Brame
Associate Professor of Sociology; Department Chair of Sociology and Criminal Justice
2010
712-279-5492
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Justin (Jay) Rhodes
First-Year Academic Advisor, Multicultural Program Coordinator
712-279-5512
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I knew I wanted to attend BCU as soon as I visited the campus. The scholarship I received made my dream possible.

Emma Bruns

Art & Elementary Education ('17)