First Year Students Discover a Global City

For 39 first-year students, Los Angeles has become their laboratory for studying religion, culture and globalization. They are members of the Global City living-learning community, a new program that orients students to college-level academics in the unique context of Los Angeles, one of the most dynamic and diverse cities in the world.

Global City first-year students get a threefold orientation to life at Loyola Marymount University: first-year seminar classes bring their critical analysis skills up to speed; academic excursions offer insider insight into cultural life in L.A.; and dorm life offers an additional source of academic and social support.

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First-year seminar courses help students hone their college-level writing and analysis skills.

Global City students take one of two First Year Seminar courses. In “A Critical Approach to Globalization,” taught by Edward Park, students study the history of globalization, tracing the movement of commodities, people, and ideas throughout history. In “Islam and the Building of America,” taught by Amir Hussain, students explore the impact that Muslim communities have had on United States politics and culture. Park is a professor of Asian Pacific American Studies and Hussain is a professor of Theological Studies.

The two seminars take four joint off-campus excursions throughout the semester, allowing students to critically engage the material outside of class. In a recent excursion, they visited the King Fahad Mosque in Culver City, where they witnessed daily prayer and learned about life at one of the largest mosques in the city. They have also taken a behind-the-scenes tour of the Islamic art collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and a walking tour of Koreatown.

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Students and faculty on an excursion to King Fahad Mosque. “The excursions are not field trips or a break from teaching, but a deepened embodied engagement” with their courses, said Edward Park, professor in the Global City program.

“L.A. is the city of hyperbole when it comes to issues like immigration, globalization, and world trade,” said Park. “How lucky are we that within a 30 mile radius we have so many different options for this kind of engagement?”

Back on campus, students can easily continue the conversation about their trips and course material, because they live in the same dorm together. The living-learning community “facilitates learning together,” said Amiya Powell-Hodge, resident director for the program. “Someone in their class is always right down the hall.” Powell-Hodge plans programming for social and academic support, like movie nights, dinners with faculty, and study sessions.

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Students report that living with their classmates makes the academic and social transition to college easier.

“It’s definitely helpful in both the academic and social aspects,” said Olivia Sikora ’19, an English and Theatre major in the Global City program. “You get to meet people and bond over this common interest.”

“A big part of why I chose LMU was because it’s in L.A.,” Sikora said. “So this class is a great way to go out and see global and cultural aspects of the city. I get to really see L.A. from a different perspective.”