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Live Fully

“It’s a unifying experience that brings you together with some of the brightest, most diverse, and truest friends you’ll ever have.”

Catherine Muller ’12

New town. New classes. New friends. New adventures. There is a lot to comprehend during your first semester no matter where you go to school. To help with the transition, Vanderbilt has designed a living experience exclusively for our first-year students—The Commons. On one of the most historic parts of Vanderbilt’s campus, ten Houses surround a main dining and meeting hall. Seven of the buildings comprise the largest collection of LEED-certified green buildings in Tennessee and one of the largest in the southeastern United States, but what’s truly revolutionary is what goes on inside those walls. 

"If the students knew how much I learn from them each semester, and how much I treasure that learning, it might reinvent the student-professor relationship."

– Jim Lovensheimer, Assistant Professor, Musicology

With residences for faculty who serve as Heads of House and a home for the Dean of The Commons and his family on site, The Commons offers first-year students more opportunities to meet with each other, with professors, and with academic, public, and cultural leaders from around the world.

The lines between inside and outside the classroom, between curricular and extracurricular activities, become less obvious as students become more proactive learners and participants in life at The Commons and beyond.

Learn more about the first-year experience

"I was looking for new ways of engaging engaging with students, new challenges in teaching, and to shake things up in my l ife. I have found all this— and more—in The Commons."

– Jo-Anne Bachorowski, Associate Professor, Psychology, Faculty Head of West House

Commons Seminars are enhanced learning opportunities open to all first-year students. Topics explored recently included:

  • Ethics for College Students
  • Images of Appalachia
  • Manned and Robotic Space Missions
  • Modern Cities and Disease Epidemics
  • Learning Shakespeare Through Performance
  • HIV and Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa