Academic Learning Communities

Administrative Office
Kalmanovitz Hall, Room 333
Phone: (415) 422-5541
Lorrie Ranck, M.Ed., Director of Living/Learning Communities
Martín-Baró Scholars

Students in the Martín Baró Scholars explore social justice in contemporary urban life by participating in an integrated curriculum that meets the academic needs of most incoming first-year students. Martín Baró Scholars enroll in common courses (two courses each semester) during their first year. By living in specially designated space in the residence hall, students develop and grow as a community of learners.

The central theme of the Martín-Baró Scholars community is the study of poverty. With a creative comprehensive curriculum and a focus on diversity and service in the multicultural urban environment of San Francisco, this unique living-learning community provides opportunities for first-year students to build strong relationships early in their college career and actively engage in social justice, academic study, and service.

Students who successfully complete both semesters (fall and spring) in the Martín-Baró Scholars Community, earn the following credits:

    • Writing and Public Speaking (Core A1 and A2)
    • Literature (Core D)
    • Service Learning (SL)
    • Cultural Diversity (CD)
    • Elective credit (4 units)

The Garden Project

The Garden Project is an innovative living-learning community for first-year, junior and senior students of any major, no previous gardening experience necessary. Established in response to student interest in how to cope with rapidly changing and interconnected global conditions, the Garden Project creates an opportunity for students to learn about climate change, water rights, food security, and social and economic justice as they relate to food production and form a tight-knit community in the process.

The Garden Project community offers a rare opportunity for students to engage in community design and gardening through the active cultivation of the university's 1/4 acre organic garden nestled in the heart of campus. The study of community-supported agriculture, through historical research, analysis of organic garden strategies, hand-on experiments, and field trips will assist students as they take the lead in the designing, cultivating, managing and harvesting of USF's community organic garden.

Garden Project students participate in these events:

    • Weekly community garden meetings
    • Regional field trips and overnights
    • 100-mile radius potlucks
    • Facilitation of University-Wide Garden Forums

Upon successful completion of the year, Garden Project students fulfill these University requirements:

    • Social Science (Core E)
    • Service Learning (SL)
    • eight (8) units elective credits

Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars

Named after the late Esther Madríz, beloved professor of sociology who embodied the Ignatian ideals of education of the whole person as a means toward social justice, this living-learning community explores the idea of "crossing borders and discovering home." Here, borders refer to real and imagined boundaries placed around us as individuals and as members of various communities.

Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars explore and explode these boundaries to understand the social and political impact upon both those inside and outside, as well as our own place within these structured systems.

Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars participate in these events:

    • Fall weekend retreat
    • Weekly karamus (community gatherings)
    • Various fieldwork experiences
    • Transborder cultural experience

Upon successful completion of the year, Esther Madríz Diversity Scholars fulfill these Core requirements:

    • Social Science (Core E)
    • Cultural Diversity (CD)
    • Service Learning (SL)

This year-long living-learning community is a collaborative effort between the Sociology Department and the Office of Multicultural Student Services.


Erasmus is designed to bring together second and third year students from the various undergraduate colleges at USF in a shared learning environment with the option for community living. During both fall and spring semesters, students engage in coursework, involvement at a number of organizations, and community building.

Erasmus students learn theoretical information from the classroom experience, discuss the material as a community and directly apply information and ideas through various community-based research projects. Over the course of a year, students in the community delve deeper into their understanding of the intertextuality of ethics, service, and justice at local and global levels.

The program culminates with a two-week experience in a marginalized community which offers students the opportunity to dialogue with people working in direct service roles and reflect on their own evolving understanding of justice, and their role in creating change.

Upon successful completion of both semesters in the Erasmus program, students earn credit towards the following Core requirements as well as four units of elective credit:

    • Ethics (Core D)
    • Service Learning (SL)