Learning communities are curricular structures that link different disciplines around a common theme or question. They give greater coherence to the curriculum and provide students and faculty with a vital sense of shared inquiry. This volume examines the concept of learning communities within the framework of twentieth-century educational theory and reform. The authors provide comprehensive, detailed descriptions of how to design, maintain, and evaluate learning communities and include firsthand accounts from students and faculty in learning communities across the nation. At a time when higher education seeks a sense of shared purpose, learning communities offer an approach that balances the demands of individualism with those of contributing to the common good. Solutions to the problems we confront require multiple points of view, a variety of competencies, and an acknowledgment of interdependence and mutual respect. Learning communities are one way we may build the commonalities and connections so essential to our education and our society. This is the 41st issue of the quarterly journal New Directions for Teaching and Learning.
FAITH GABELNICK is dean of The Carl and Winifred Lee Honors College at Western Michigan University. JEAN MACGREGOR is associate director of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education at The Evergreen State College. ROBERTA S. MATTHEWS is associate dean for academic affairs and professor of English at LaGuardia Community College, City University of New York. BARBARA LEIGH SMITH is academic dean and director of the Washington Center for Improving the Quality of Undergraduate Education at The Evergreen State College.