Students Master the Chemistry of Love

November 17, 2022

In collaboration with St. John’s Meadows, first-year Learning Community (LC) students in the Chemistry of Love community-engaged learning (CEL) course have spent the semester learning about the seven types of love including friendship, agape, family, self, romantic, pragmatic, and obsessive.

Students in Dr. Chichester's class do an activity with seniors.

LC courses bring faculty from different disciplines together to instruct two linked courses with a common theme. It is a course format for first-year students and acts as another segue to meet classmates outside of their major and first-year seminar. As part of the Fisher Core, LCs help students learn about a specific topic from two perspectives.

In the course, taught by Dr. Kimberly Chichester, associate professor and chair, Department of Chemistry and chair, Department of Physics, students take part in discussions and overall community-building activities on campus to encourage them to get to know one another and meet faculty and staff across campus. “I strive to bring the real world into every one of my classes and to give students the opportunity to apply the concepts each class is trying to teach,” said Chichester.

With her goal of bringing the real world into the classroom, adapting her LC course into a CEL course offers greater opportunities for community collaboration with St. John’s Meadow. “This is the first year with residents and it enriches the conversations so much. Shifting to the CEL course format was new this semester but so helpful in creating the classroom-to-community experiences,” she added.

“I learn a lot from all the students, it’s wonderful. And our discussions really make them think about a few things especially since they do not realize how young we are. They think people 75 and older are from the olden days but we are from the same lifetime as them. This classroom experience offers the opportunity for me and the others from St. John’s to share our experiences with love in order to help our young counterparts navigate love in their life going forward,” said Lanni Pappano, a resident at St. John’s Meadows.

The residents have been very appreciative of the course, its offerings, and the opportunity to collaborate with students. As a result, some of the residents have become friends. Even though they were living in the same building before the class, many of them have formed a bond that is taken back to St. John’s as a result of working with Fisher students.

As part of the course structure, students engage in a number of discussions centering around the seven types of love. The main purpose of this course partnership is to expose students to the point of view of individuals who have lived different lives, have been involved in different experiences, and may take a different approach to life. Students are also becoming exposed to partners in the Rochester community and are developing critical thinking skills that will transfer to other classes taken throughout their Fisher experience.

One of the student groups shared how much they have enjoyed the experience, and say they will “carry this classroom experience forward” throughout their time at Fisher. 

Chichester said she hopes students have the opportunity to talk with people who have had greater experiences with love as an opportunity to gather different viewpoints beyond the narrow scope of love.