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Freshman finds fellow explorers at AU

Freshman Nora Morse came to American University from Alaska itching for adventure. And that's exactly what she got as one of 100 or so students in AU's new learning communities project.

Rick Stack, of the School of Communications, co-taught the Crime and the Media community. Watching 16 strangers transform themselves into a "community of interest," he says, was something. "Outside of the classroom, they're hosting potlucks and going to museums and movies together," he says. "They're a bright group of students and I know they're picking each other's brains for all it's worth."

Morse can vouch for that. She and her 15 partners in crime and media explored the Newseum, toured the District's police agencies, and visited the Supreme Court–twice. And they shared the magic of seminars with two of AU's powerhouse professors. The friends she made during this intense experience, says Morse, "will last through college and beyond."

AU launched this innovative project in fall 2008 as an extension of the University College. Students with a common interest, from politics to sustainability, are grouped together for a semester. A professor leads each group with the goal of sparking exploration, debate, and collaboration.

"This has been an amazing experience," Morse said. "My only complaint is that it's ending too soon."