Living and Learning Communities are a unique living option offered to students at Niagara University. It gives students the opportunity to live collectively in a house based on shared hobbies, experiences, cultural interests and identities. It also supports the creation of interwoven communities of interest that otherwise would not be as connected.

The houses are not only tied to an academic department or student organization, but also very often provide outreach to the greater Buffalo-Niagara community. The primary goal of each Living and Learning Community is to provide unique educational and cultural, campus inclusive programming. Each program maintains a direct connection to a faculty advisor who assists with student and house/campus program development.

Students who choose to live in Living and Learning Communities have a close connection with their peers, which is enhanced through events, programs, group travel opportunities, and activities.

Three Houses, One Community

Residents will live in houses located at the center of campus. With common area facilities such as a kitchen and laundry space, rooms are fashioned for single, double, and triple occupancy. Students can request to stay in these houses during winter and summer breaks in order to work on ongoing projects.

Mission

Social Justice, Earth and Environment, and Legal Advocacy houses will connect directly to the university’s Vincentian mission through programming in humanitarian assistance, sustainability, and legal assistance.

Access

Residents will have opportunities to connect to and support campus programs and extracurricular activities, and to link up with networks of activists and experts on a variety of issues.

Collaboration

Students will work on broad social and environmental issues and interact with community organizations to contribute to meaningful change both on and off campus. All house residents will participate in a single course that is team-taught by faculty with expertise in a variety of academic disciplines.

Our Living and Learning Communities

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Dave Reilly, Department of Political Science

Taking inspiration from St. Francis of Assisi, the residents of this house share a commitment to compassionate coexistence with all animals and the promotion of humane habitats. We believe the current ecological crisis threatening the stability of our environment today is directly related to deep-seated social problems, and that the arena in which our planet’s future will be decided is undoubtedly a social one. Therefore, our house community is created with the explicit intent of challenging traditional social structures and replacing them with new, creative and egalitarian alternatives.

We strive to commit ourselves to a community based on love, peace, sustainability, cooperative communalism and human values, as opposed to one based on concern for material goods. Earth House is created as a safe, open and respectful space to connect political action with the culture and philosophy of environmentalism through a diversity of approaches.

We aim to espouse the values and principles of social ecology, deep ecology and eco-feminism as well as support each other in our experimentation and education with regard to environmentalism; to learn, to teach, to inspire, and to act as a resource for these issues on campus. We strive to achieve sustainability in all realms of life and practice an environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Proposed Programming Examples

  • Raised Bed Gardening, a collection of gardens to be created and maintained by the house residents
  • Buffalo and Rochester VegFests
  • WildLIFE Festival
  • Outdoor Opportunities: Hikes and Camping
  • Tour of Love Canal with EPA
  • Motor Island Restoration with the Army Corps of Engineers
  • Native Conceptions of Environment, Animals, and Coexistence: Tuscarora Nation
  • Visit to EarthShip Houses—Marilla and Alden, N.Y.
  • Tours of Silo City, Outer Harbor, and Other Regional Sites with Permaculturalists and Native Plants Ecologists 
  • Field Trip: Cornell Cooperative Extension Programs

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Chris Lee, Department of Political Science

The residents of this house will explore historical social justice movements, peace movements and strategies of resistance and advocacy to understand their relevance to modern-day activism. They will explore the connections between social responsibility, Catholic teachings and direction action.

Students will investigate total liberation strategies that are holistic and intersectional and committed to dismantling all forms of domination and exploitation such as patriarchy, racism, heterosexism, cissexism, disablism, ageism, speciesism and ecological domination. Residents will engage in education and advocacy for social justice and connect with local, regional, and national organizations that share our goals.

Proposed Programming Examples

  • Engagement with Volunteer Lawyers Project on Amnesty and Immigration initiatives
  • Partnering with Buffalo Anti-Racism Coalition
  • Visit to Attica State Prison, Wende Correctional Institute
  • PUSH Buffalo events
  • Volunteering for the Subversive Theatre
  • Collaboration with the WNY Peace Center
  • Speakers
  • Films
  • Outreach to student social justice groups at other regional campuses
  • Monthly dinner and discussion with faculty advisor
  • A monthly program led by faculty, staff and community members that presents individual life stories about activism, expression and culture

Students in the Legal Advocacy and Justice House will join a community of aspiring advocates for justice. Student-advocates will have unique opportunities to learn about foundational principles of law and justice, to meet and interact with lawyers and judges, and to gain hands-on experience in legal advocacy. The faculty advisor for the Legal Advocacy and Justice House, Kevin A. Hinkley, J.D., is a graduate of Niagara University and Harvard Law School.

Planned activities for fall 2020 include:

  • Group lunches/dinners with Prof. Hinkley and guest lecturers from the legal community;
  • Film screenings and discussions featuring legal classics from Anatomy of a Murder to Legally Blonde;
  • Visits to law schools, courthouses, and legal-historical sites;
  • Tutoring and advisement from upper-level pre-law students;
  • Law-and-literature reading group in which students and faculty will read and discuss short stories, articles, books, and legal opinions in an informal setting;
  • Study breaks and social events;
  • Collaborative programs with the Earth House and Social Justice House, the Pre-Law Student Association, and Phi Delta Phi, the international legal honor society.  


Recent national studies have emphasized the unique potential for Living and Learning Communities to positively impact student success and retention:

  • Students perform better in class.
  • They feel more connected to their peers.
  • They connect with the faculty and the university.
  • Residents of Living and Learning Communities are more likely to return the next year.

What makes Living and Learning Communities Special?

  • Access to an enhanced residential experience through specialized programs.
  • Experience includes increased faculty and staff contact.
  • Learning opportunities are holistic and concentrated — both within and outside the classroom.
  • Greater academic support opportunities and potential for internships, network-building and career enhancement.
  • Potential for fostering a greater connection to the university.
  • Building deeper lifetime friendships based in common interests.

Additional Information

Please contact us with questions by completing this brief form.