Schar Learning Communities FAQs

Who can join a learning community?

  • The Schar School First-Year Learning Community “The Democracy Lab” - open to all first-year students living on campus. Participating students must enroll in a section of Govt 101 reserved for Democracy Lab students 

  • Pillars of Research Learning Community – open to students of any year who are interested in learning fundamental research skills 

  • Jurisprudence Learning Community – open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors with an interest in law 

  • International Relations Policy Task Force – open to sophomores, juniors and seniors with an interest in addressing global challenges through policy 

Can I earn credit for being a part of a learning community?

Yes, each of the learning communities provides opportunities to earn course credit. The amount of credits earned varies according to the learning community. 

  • The Schar School First-Year Learning Community “The Democracy Lab” - all Democracy Lab members will register for the same section of Govt 101 (3 credits) 

  • Pillars of Research – The PRLC is a semester-long course. Participating students will earn 1 credit of Govt 399

    • PRLC students who choose to complete an Undergraduate Research Assistant Program (URAP) project will also earn an additional 1-3 credits for their URAP project. 

  • Jurisprudence – The JPLC is a year-long course. Participating students will earn 3 credits of Govt 301 in the fall, and 1 credit of Govt 399 in the spring. 

  • IR Task Force – The IR Task Force is a year-long course. Participating students will earn 3 credits of 399 in the fall, and 3 credits of 444 in the spring. Those who participate in the optional spring break trip will earn 1 credit of Govt 398

How do GOVT 399 credits count?

  • GOVT 399 counts as an upper division credit

  • You can take up to 9 credits of GOVT 399.  

  • GOVT 399 can be used for your Major Field Courses Requirement.

Are there prerequisites?

There are no class prerequisites to join any of the communities.

Does it cost extra to participate in a learning community?

Learning Community courses are no different in terms of tuition than other classes. There is no additional cost to participate, except for the optional spring break trip.

Is Pillars of Research connected to URAP?

Not directly. You do not need to be in URAP to participate in Pillars of Research, and you do not need to be in Pillars of Research to participate in URAP. For Pillars of Research students who do want to participate in URAP, this learning community will serve as a ‘support group’ for you as you complete your research project. 

For those interested in also participating in URAP, it is now available for both Fall and Spring semesters

Can I select my own topic for the second component of the International Relations Policy Task Force?

Students organize themselves around particular broad topics and have the flexibility to focus on a specific interest within those broad topic areas. Visit the IR Task Force website for more information about this year’s themes for the course.  

How do I sign up?

Can I be in more than one learning community at a time?

Yes. Make sure to talk to your advisor about how the LCs can fit into your schedule.

Do I have to be a Schar School student to participate?

Our learning communities are open to students outside of the Schar School.

What if I have other questions?

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