2020 Minnesota Campus Compact Award

Civic Engagement Leadership Award: Inver Hills Learning Communities

Learning Communities (LCOMs) at Inver Hills Community College were recently recognized by Minnesota Campus Compact with the 2020 Presidents’ Civic Engagement Leadership Award.

According to Minnesota Campus Compact: “This award is for a member of the faculty, administration, or staff or for a group (e.g., advisory committee, task force, project team) that has significantly advanced their campus’ distinctive civic mission by forming strong partnerships, supporting others’ civic and community engagement, and working to institutionalize a culture and practice of engagement.

More about Inver Hills LCOMs…

Lisa DuRose and Laura Funke, both Inver Hills English faculty, are co-directors of Learning Communities (LCOMs) at the college.

Lisa is excited about the opportunity showcase how LCOMs are helping students collaborate on projects that inspire them to learn via community engagement. She pointed out how LCOMs provide numerous benefits for students.

What is a Learning Community (LCOM)?

  • Learning Communities are small groups of students who share academic interests
  • Students have at least two courses in common
  • Students experience the variety of opportunities of a large school in a small, supportive environment
  • Peer tutors help students learn
  • Students participate in special activities and events
  • Learning Communities have no extra cost

Why should I enroll in a Learning Community (LCOM)?

Learning Community classes:
  • Have coordinated learning objectives and assignments
  • Are led by experienced instructors who cooperate in planning their courses
  • Help you get to know other students, since you take several classes together
  • Meet degree requirements or prepare you to take courses that meet degree goals
  • Make it easier to understand material by discussing it in a group with a peer mentor
  • Give you a sense of belonging by providing peer and advisor feedback and support

Laura Funke is looking forward to building more Learning Communities in the future.

“It is an honor to receive this award on behalf of Learning Community faculty,” Laura said. “Our LCOM faculty recognize the importance of experiential learning that pulls students out of the relative safety of the classroom and into the community.”

Laura reported that LCOM students participate in Community-Based Learning (CBL) projects that encourage them to link the theories and abstract concepts they are studying with the practical realities facing citizens and organizations in their communities. “I am so proud that LCOM faculty are integrating CBL into their courses in innovative ways!” she said.

LCOM students hosting a youth panel from Ampersand Families

Laura and Lisa related the following ways LCOMs enhance student learning:

  • Developmental writing students wrote articles about long-time volunteers at a food shelf for the organization’s community newsletter
  • Immigrant students composed and shared folktales from their home country with elementary school students
  • Students hosted a viewing of a documentary about the importance of girls’ access to education for the community and shared poster presentations about the film with attendees
  • Community speakers were invited on campus to give presentations
    • Recently, after reading a book about the challenging journey that some immigrants face coming to the U.S., students invited an immigration lawyer from the community to speak about her experience
  • Students worked with the Dakota County Historical Society to document (through photographs and writing) sections of Robert Street within Dakota County
  • Students created a resource guide for the Irreducible Grace Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works to empower youth of color—especially those from foster care—in their transition to adulthood
    • Students wrote letters to stakeholders in the foster care system to advocate for improvements in the system
    • Several students wrote to their state senator about issues related to foster care—whether it was requiring more trauma-based training for foster families or more funding to help youths aging out of the foster care system
    • Other students wrote letters to the directors of Human Services in Dakota and Ramsey counties, requesting improved training for child protection workers, access to drivers’ education for foster youth, and a seamless transfer of educational credits/requirements across Minnesota school systems

Psychology & Writing LCOM Welcomes Ampersand Families Panel

The English and Psychology departments at Inver Hills Community College hosted a learning community (LCOM) youth panel Thursday, October 11, 2018, in the Fine Arts building on the college’s main campus in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota.

Lisa DuRose, PhD, Inver Hills English faculty, reported that the learning community (LCOM) is a combination of two courses: English 1108: Research and Writing Skills and Psychology 1101: Introduction to Psychology. Students in the Psychology & Writing Learning Community conduct research on the foster care system in Minnesota.

“The panel was composed of youth from an organization called Ampersand Families,” Lisa said. “The panelists are in the process of being adopted and shared their experiences with our students.”

View more event photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album.

50th Anniversary Alumni Stories

A partnership with the Read, Write and Succeed LCOM

Students in College Success Strategies classes (INTS 1101) at Inver Hills Community College spent fall semester 2019 interviewing Inver alumni for a project in sync with the college’s 50th Anniversary celebration.

Amy Zsohar, PhD, communication studies faculty, gave an assignment to her students that involved partnering with the Center for Career Development and Community-Based Learning, the Inver Hills Foundation, and the Marketing department to collect stories about Inver Hills alumni.


View more event photos by visiting the Inver Hills Flickr album.

Inver Students Visit Hilltop Elementary

Third graders are treated to cultural folktales and geography lessons

Click image above to read folktales composed by Inver Hills students for Red Pine Elementary School children

On Friday, March 23, 2017, students in the Introduction to College Reading and Writing course at Inver Hills Community College participated in a Community-Based Learning experience at Hilltop Elementary School in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. The college students spent the morning with a classroom of third graders.

“My students read cultural folktales from their home countries,” said Laura Funke, English and reading faculty at Inver Hills. “They also gave geography lessons and facilitated discussions on the meaning of the folktales.”


LCOM student testimonials…

“My experience was wonderful in the Learning Community, and I believe it made my first semester easy, more fun and definitely more memorable.”

“I found the Learning Community to be very helpful. It made it easier to find people to study with, and the teachers did a good job of keeping the classes connected!”

“I really enjoyed being part of the Learning Community. For a first-time student, it made me feel connected to the school, and I felt I had a built in social network at the college. The teachers are also great.”

“Overall, I really enjoyed the CBL project. It’s rare that you get a project in school that makes you feel like you’re actually making a difference. This project did just that.

“While there were definitely bumps along the road while my group was trying to find resources (there weren’t a lot of law resources), we just had to dig a little deeper and ultimately found what we were looking for. Everyone in my group contributed in various different parts of the project, and so I definitely think everyone did their part.”

“This course has opened the door to so much information of the foster care system, and I’m interested in learning more about the serious issues affecting foster children. Ampersand was the factor that made all of the information I’ve been gathering feel real.

“Speaking with real people who are or have been a part of the system helped me to feel deeply connected to issues in the system and the children. Working with Ampersand made this experience feel less like a bleak documentary and more like a real cause that I can get involved in.”

“Before this semester, I already knew I’d like to help people in some way, shape or form as I become older and start my profession. Whether if it was becoming nurse, therapist or police officer, I knew my calling was to help people in any way possible.

“But since this semester and being involved with Ampersand, I have learned that I want to help people be heard, I want to be the voice that people feel they do not have or are not being heard. I want to advocate for the people involved in the foster care system, I want to spread the knowledge I have as well as continuing to learn more about it.”

More about Minnesota Campus Compact…¹

Who We Are

Founded in 1994, Minnesota Campus Compact’s mission is to support our member institutions as they fulfill the public purpose that is at the heart higher education. We partner with institutions to assist in prioritizing what matters most and to adapt to changing times in ways that allow us to continue to have a positive impact in our communities and on the world.

In 2019, the organization formed a three-year strategic alliance with Iowa Campus Compact. The alliance will allow us to operate more efficiently and effectively so that we can work with more of your students, staff, faculty, and partners to address the most pressing issues that face us all from political polarity to student food insecurity to workforce readiness. See below for the strategic alliance priorities.

Learn more about Learning Communities (LCOMs) at Inver Hills by contacting:

Lisa DuRose
English Faculty
Learning Communities Co-Director

Laura Funke
English Faculty
Learning Communities Co-Director

¹ Courtesy of Minnesota Campus Compact

Coming soon on Inver Hills News…

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