Class focuses on Lexington as community

By Brittney De Jaco

One UK professor is teaching a different type of class, where students learn about the local community.

Geography professor Richard Schein is changing things up with a new class, A&S 100, called “Community 101.”

Schein prefers to call the class “Learning Lexington” because it offers students a chance to familiarize themselves with the Lexington community and all that it has to offer.

The class “helps the students feel they are a part of the greater Lexington community,” Schein said. “We are an urban nation and we’ll all live in cities at some point.”

Although it has all of the usual elements, it is not a typical class.

The class meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 to 4:45 p.m. On Tuesdays, the class breaks into groups and discusses the issues that will be covered on that following Thursday when a speaker will visit.

The speakers are members of the community, who speak often on behalf of their organizations, informing the students about their contribution to Lexington.

To prepare for these visitors, Schein puts together web assignments and Herald-Leader articles for the students to “read about the issues, its statuses and its history,” Schein said.

Caleb Lucas, an international studies senior in the class, said he has learned more about Lexington in his short time in this class than during all his years here at UK.

“Understanding the way history molded it into our modern day city has been particularly beneficial,” he said, “everything from why the roads are confusing to why campus is laid out the way it is.”

Students are required to go out in the community to get more hands-on experience with the people and places they are learning about.

For example, the students must attend a breakfast at Keeneland where they learn about the workers and explore the venues.

Schein also likes the students to go in their own time to visit places before the speakers visit. He said by doing so, it allows the students to have prior knowledge and be able to ask questions relevant to the speaker’s organization when he or she visits.

Andee Shannon, a political science freshman, said the class has changed the way she views her community.

“I am more aware of my surroundings when I leave campus,” Shannon said. “I notice the people and their interactions as well as the architecture and what is new in the newspaper because these are all things Professor Schien has brought to our attention in class. They are things I took for granted before now.”

Angel Cartagena Rivera, a Puerto Rican exchange student who is also in the class, came to UK to improve his English and will be here for six months. His adviser told him it would be the best class to learn more about Lexington.

“I need to know more about the city and connect with the community,” he said. Rivera said he has learned about the university and the neighborhoods.

“You need to do more than study here. You need to become a part of the community,” he said. “This is an opportunity to learn more English and more about the American culture.”

However, what really sets this class apart from many others is that it is offered mid-semester.

“It is important because it’s only two credit hours and helps with retention,” Schein said. “Everyone drops a class so this helps you make up for that deficit.”

Field trips to Keeneland and the Lyric Theater are two ventures the class will go on together.

Kara Cecil, director of Strategic Planning and Project Development in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been helping Schein plan field trips and invite speakers.

She said Kip Cornett from Cornett IMS is a donor to the project.

“This gives us the flexibility to do the really cool things,” Cecil said.

Schein said he loves teaching the class and has been working toward making it a class that can be truly beneficial for the students.

It will be offered again next semester but will be taught by Rosie Moosnick, Cecil said.

Rivera said he would recommend the class to other students. “Here I see the connection between the university and the community, and I like that,” Rivera said.