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Learn Serve Research Engage

Early in my career as a teacher, I realized that the best lessons do not always come from textbooks. I began looking for ways to get students involved in the process of discovery and to get them engaged with the messy complexities of the real world. Doing so transformed their learning into a much more active and meaningful process. Students began looking at problems in new ways and approaching solutions differently. They developed information literacy and cultural competence. This approach to teaching, known as engaged learning, shapes not just careers but also lives, by helping students develops skills that will be of value to them long after they graduate. Engaged learning is a hallmark of a Northern Illinois University education, and one of the things that attracted me to NIU. We provide access to engaged learning opportunities and academic enrichment programs from the very start. Among those opportunities are: • Themed Learning Communities, which allow you to join a cohort of students that explores a common subject from a variety of perspectives. For instance, you might learn the background of an issue in a history class while focusing a semester’s worth of writing on that topic in an English class. • Research Rookies, which matches students with faculty mentors who invite students into their laboratories to share in the process of discovery or guide them through original research. • The Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research, and helps students explore y a topic in depth, sometimes even paying for travel abroad to help them gain new insights, all with the guidance of expert faculty. • Service Learning opportunities, which can be found within many majors, offer the chance to apply classroom learning on behalf of not-for-profit organizations that serve the community. • The University Honors Program, which enables students to take their education a step further by designing individualized programs of study, while learning from top faculty and exploring their interests in depth. This booklet provides information on those programs and many other engaged learning opportunities that could transform your learning experience and better prepare you for what lies ahead. I hope you will take some time to peruse these pages, find your opportunity, embrace the challenge and change your life. Doug Baker President, Northern Illinois University

Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning Welcome to NIU! We want to encourage you to use this book to learn about some of the exciting opportunities to get involved in our academic community. From research projects that are searching for a cure for cancer to service projects that are providing care for home bound senior citizens, NIU students have the ability to engage in handson meaningful activities that bring to life the world around them.

Discover your passion! Satisfy your curiosity! Get excited!

We believe our student engagement programs will challenge you to define your passions, your academic and professional goals, and ultimately your contribution to society. Moreover, understanding the breadth of your academic opportunities here at NIU can have a profound impact on your academic journey. It is our hope you will explore these exciting programs and begin to realize your potential while you move toward your degree at Northern Illinois University. So, as you begin your journey, seek answers‌discover your passions. Satisfy your curiousity. Get excited. You have an opportunity to integrate the questions you want answered here at NIU. We provide research and service learning opportunities. We offer integrated classes that explore topics as diverse as physics and math, conflict and creativity, and teachers for social change. The Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning (OSEEL) and the many programs and offices listed in the book are dedicated to supporting you as you begin your journey at Northern. Julia Spears, PhD. Director, Office of Student Engagement and Experiential Learning


Themed Learning Communities

Living Learning Communities



We value our students at NIU, so we work hard to make sure each student’s NIU experience is meaningful and unique. NIU’s Theme learning Communities (TLCs) make transitioning to college life easier.

A Living Learning Community (LLC) consists of several floors dedicated to students from the same academic interest or lifestyle area. Living Learning Communities bring together floors or halls of motivated students who learn as they live together. LLC residents take part in the same social and educational activities enjoyed on other floors, while also enjoying special programs, speakers, field trips, and activities. To support activities in the houses, LLC residents will be charged an additional programming fee. For a complete description of NIU’s LLCs, visit

Students who enroll in a TLC build social and intellectual relationships with classmates and faculty that can last a lifetime. Class sizes in TLCs are usually 20 – 25 students encouraging enhanced interaction between classmates and faculty. Each TLC is focused on a common theme. The TLC is made of 2 to 3 classes teaching this theme from different perspectives. NIU faculty work together to create common assignments among the linked TLC courses. This collaboration provides the student an enriched learning environment and a great introduction to NIU. Research at NIU demonstrates that students who are involved in Themed Learning Communities persist in school and have higher GPAs. Get a solid foundation your first semester on campus and enroll in a TLC!

Many of the university’s themed and living learning communities connect students to individuals with similar academics goals, interests and lifestyles. Themed Learning Communities consist of 2-3 courses students take together around a common theme while Living Learning Communities consist of several residence hall floors centered around a common interest or area of study.

Living Learning Communities are co-sponsored by Housing & Dining and NIU academic colleges and departments or student support offices. Dedicated faculty members serve as guides to students as they pursue their academic goals and hone their professional skills.

Eligibility In most programs, priority is given to students who have a major, or who intend to have a major, in the academic field related to the program. In some cases, students with a strong interest in the academic discipline are accepted. Acceptance into the LLC is not automatic. Some programs require a minimum GPA or ACT score.


Here are some examples in the chart below:

The focus on a particular field of study enables an LLC to offer additional benefits: out-of-class interaction with professors in your academic field; additional opportunities for career information, internships, and networking with faculty members and professionals; programs and special facilities that will enhance your classroom learning and leadership skill development; social and cultural activities with students, faculty, and staff; improved academic performance—on average, students in LLCs earn a higher GPA.

Themed Learning Communities-Learn Together

Living Learning Communities-Live Together

Business Ethics Major Exploration Creativity & Conflict Exploring Health Majors Global Perspectives The American Experience at Home and Abroad How GREEN is your paw print? Calculus and Physics for Engineers Promise Scholars Teachers as Ambassadors for Social Change Civic Engagement

Business Careers House Exploring Majors House Fine Arts House Health Professions House Honors House International House Science/Engineering/Technology (SET) House


Teacher Education and Certification House (TEACH) Transfer House Journeys of Spirituality & Meaning Floor Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) Floor

Explore Your Focus!

I highly recommend getting involved in Themed Learning Communities. We work together in three shared courses and really help each other out. It’s a great experience. Tevin Rodgers, Student TLC Program

Students who have taken TLCs say they: “It’s a great way to feel very connected to the University. TLC classes helped me feel like I was truly a part of NIU.” “TLC is a good foundation to prepare us for college.” “These classes are nothing like my other classes, but these classes made it easier to do well in my other classes because the teachers in this TLC program are VERY welcoming and helpful.” 5

First-Year Connections 815-753-1535 Starting college at Northern Illinois University will be a major turning point for you. Life at Northern will be different from your previous experiences and will challenge you in new ways both in and out of the classroom. The FirstYear Connections program is intended to help you make a successful transition to university life. Its components include the first-year course, UNIV 101/201, and the First-year Success Series, a speaker series that guides new students in their transition to NIU.

UNIV 101/201 UNIV 101 is a 12-week, one credit-hour course designed exclusively for freshmen. UNIV 201 is a 12 week, one-credit hour course specifically for transfer students. Course content for 101 and 201 includes adjusting to college life, getting involved on campus, and joining a diverse community. The course also covers strategies for academic success, finding and using university resources, choosing a major, and preparing for a career. Sections are taught by trained instructors from departments and offices across NIU’s


campus. Sections are limited to 20 students, so you’ll have the opportunity to get to know your classmates. Research at NIU and across the country proves that students who complete a UNIV course have higher GPAs and are more likely to return to the university than students who don’t. You can register for UNIV through Northern’s online registration system, MyNIU. Most sections are open to any student, but some are reserved for students in certain majors or programs and require a permit number for registration. Several UNIV courses are connected with the Themed Learning Communities. To obtain information regarding a permit number, contact Orientation & First-Year Experience at 815-753-1535 or at First Year Success Series are workshops that are offered every fall for students new to NIU. Speakers and workshops over a wide range of topics such as: time management, civic engagement, and getting involved.

OSEEL Research Opportunities 815-753-8154 Many learn by doing. At NIU, there are many opportunities to engage students in hands-on research experiences in their disciplines. Students conducting research as undergraduates are able to gain relevant skills while expanding their opportunities, both academically and professionally. The programs below highlight several venues to get started in undergraduate research. Students can begin hands-on, faculty-mentored research as early as freshman year with the Huskie Research Rookies program and continue through graduation. We have a place for your to explore your field of interest!


Research Rookie Program The Research Rookies program works to link students with faculty mentors in their major or area of interest to conduct a small-scale research project. As a Research Rookie, students will learn what research looks like in their field of study. Students will also learn how to write a formal research proposal, gain experience working alongside talented faculty, attend professional and academic enrichment activities, present their work at the annual Undergraduate Research and Artistry Day, and receive a $500 stipend at the end of the program in the spring. It is the perfect way for highly motivated students to connect with one another as well as with supportive faculty and graduate students.

Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day Undergraduates who have conducted an original research, scholarly, or creative project under the guidance of a faculty mentor will be invited to display an informational poster at the annual Undergraduate Research & Artistry Day at the end of the spring semester. Faculty, students, staff, collaborating partners, and others are invited to attend the event to learn more about the work of NIU undergraduates. Prizes will be awarded for top posters. In addition, one research advisor will be honored with the Faculty Mentor of the Year award.

Undergraduate Research Assistantships

Undergraduate Travel Fund Students who are interested in presenting their research and artistry at regional or national conference can apply to the Undergraduate Research/Artistry Travel Fund for up to $300 in support. To be eligible, undergraduates must be presenting their research or artistry at national/regional/local peerreviewed conferences. Student must also receive matching support from their faculty mentor, department, and/or college equal to the amount requested from the Provost’s office. All applications materials are online.

The Undergraduate Research Assistantship (URA) program is a new initiative of the Great Journeys Strategic plan to expand the opportunities for students to work on faculty mentored research. URAs are will support approximately 1520 students during the fall, spring or summer semesters. The program offers on-campus employment opportunities for NIU undergraduate. Students selected for an Undergraduate Research Assistantship are able to work under the guidance of a faculty member in a position that is directly related to their career path and/or academic discipline. Students will work 10 hours per week and are paid $10 per hour. Work-study positions are available and encouraged.


Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research (USOAR) Undergraduate Special Opportunities in Artistry and Research (USOAR) provides university funds for studentgenerated research projects, whether the study is conducted on campus, somewhere in the United States, or overseas. Students can apply for up to $2,500 to support their project. Projects should come under the direct supervision and evaluation of members of the regular faculty. USOAR applications are accepted twice a year in October and February.

PROMISE Scholars Program 815-753-9222 Northern Illinois University offers The PROMISE (Providing Resources and Opportunity to Maximize Interest in STEM Education) Scholars Program designed to attract and support students interested in the critical fields of science, technology, engineering or math (STEM). The NIU PROMISE Scholars Program is a campus-wide initiative for new freshmen and sophomore students enrolled in a STEM major or undecided about their major choice. PROMISE Scholars will participate in a summer pre-college program, STEM Learning Communities, research and peer opportunities with faculty and students, and career readiness activities with national corporations. Photo courtesy of DeKalb Daily Chronicle.

Operation ETank: Moving toward a Sustainable World The research focus of the NIU Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program, Operation ETank, is in areas of energy and the environment, with aspects of ethics and economy (the 4 Es) incorporated into broader problems and related to the broader issue of sustainability. Students involved in the program will be mentored by faculty members having wide-ranging backgrounds in relevant research areas. Students will participate in individually mentored research endeavors (i.e., environment or energy), but their overall learning experience will include a number of opportunities to relate sustainability issues to their research projects. The NIU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering and Engineering Technology have a long history of working together on collaborative STEM projects and funded research. This is an National Science Foundation funded initiative and most REU participants are non-NIU students.

College – Specific Apprenticeship Programs These programs allow faculty to engage undergraduates in their research and artistry agendas. It allows students to closely work with faculty on expanding their domain of knowledge and skills and are designed to support mentorships that involve faculty members with qualified, highly motivated students.

Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship Program (URAP) College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Engineering Undergraduate Research Apprenticeship (EURA) College of Engineering and Engineering Technology

Undergraduate Artistry & Research Apprenticeship Program (UARAP) College of Visual and Performing Arts Contact: The Office of the Dean, 815-753-1636

College of Business Experiential Learning Center (ELC) 8

College of Business

Discovery 9

University Honors Program 815-753-0694 The University Honors Program at Northern Illinois University offers enriched academic experiences and co-curricular opportunities for highly motivated and academically-talented students. The program, which facilitates a small college atmosphere at the heart of a major research university, enjoys a rich tradition, promotes academic excellence, and fosters a strong sense of community.

Program Benefits University Honors students enjoy early course registration, access to small classes, personalized interactions with Honors faculty and staff, special advising, and Honors-sponsored academic, social, and service programming beyond the classroom. Honors students can use the resources of the University Honors Center, apply for special funding opportunities to support their educational pursuits, and choose to live with other Honors students in NIU’s newest residential facility. Furthermore, graduates of the program receive an Honors notation on their NIU transcript and special recognition at an “Honors Day” ceremony and university commencement.

Honors Retreat For decades, University Honors freshmen have begun their NIU college experience at the Honors Retreat. The retreat takes place at NIU’s scenic Lorado Taft campus the week before fall semester classes begin. The two-day program introduces new students to their peers, upper-division Honors student leaders, faculty, staff, as well as community and campus resources.

University Honors Center Located on the first floor of the Campus Life Building, the Honors Center offers students a place to gather, study, meet, and relax. The space includes a computer lab, a technology enhanced classroom, meeting space, a quiet study area, and staff offices. Popular traditions in the University Honors Center include weekly soup and chili lunches—dubbed “SOUPer” Wednesdays—and workshops with faculty and alumni.

excursions to Chicagoland, leadership and career development workshops, unique cultural experiences, community service opportunities, floor competitions, and communitybuilding activities. “Quiet lifestyle” and “transfer” clusters are available.

Special Funding Opportunities University Honors students may apply for Enhance Your Education (EYE) Grants, which provide up to $1,000 in funding for research projects or other educational enhancements. Honors students also have opportunities to compete for tuition waivers, scholarships, and funding to support study abroad experiences. What is the difference between University Honors and Department or College Honors programs? The University Honors Program spans all majors at NIU, while department and college honors programs each come with their own set of requirements, set forth by the respective academic department or college. Students are encouraged to complete department and university upper division honors in tandem, and special allowances are made for students selecting this option. Department and college honors are generally only available to juniors and seniors. In some cases, the requirements for a student to achieve department or college honors are designed to complement the requirements of the University Honors Program, thus making the successful completion of department or college honors and university honors seamless.

“Being part of the Honors Program community is a true advantage when coming to a large campus, as you never feel lost in the crowd.” ~ Nora Lindvall

Honors House The Honors House is a co-ed, living-learning community of 200 students. It is an on-campus residential option for all students admitted to the University Honors Program. Located in the East Hall of NIU’s New Residential Complex, the Honors House features new, state-of-the-art single-room living, semiprivate bathrooms, and outstanding amenities from central air conditioning and wireless internet to an exclusive recreational center to all-you-can eat dining hall with a variety of food options. The Honors House is staffed by community advisors and Honors House leaders who share duties in building a strong community. Regular special events include


Tradition, Excellence, Community ENGAGE! is a list of NIU’s engagement and outreach activities that helps students get real, get connected, and get noticed. Sign up for artistry, research projects, internships, or service activities that help you apply the skills you learn the classroom to solve real-world problems.

Why ENGAGE!? Students who include engaged learning activities in their university experience are more likely to be successful in college and beyond. • Building relationships with fellow students, faculty, and staff helps you feel like a vital member of the greater NIU community • Working with professors, peers, and other influential people in your field helps you expand your professional network • Participating in engaged learning is a great way for you to stand out from the crowd of future job applicants

Special Opportunities through ENGAGE! • Be a part of faculty research projects • Make an impact both on and off campus • Search NIU calendars to stay involved in campus activities • See what your college is doing to engage in outreach and community-building • Study abroad

Go to ENGAGE! and get searching today!


Study Abroad

Study Abroad Options at NIU

NIU students can choose from several options, including winter break, semester, summer, or year-long programs. Staff in the Study Abroad Office are available to advise and guide students throughout the process, so please feel free to call, e-mail: or visit us. Study Abroad Office, Williston Hall 417

815-753-0700 A Value-Added Component of an NIU Education! Participation in a study abroad program adds value to any degree, undergraduate or graduate. The value of study abroad can be found in the development, experience, and future employability of students who have studied abroad, among other benefits. Study abroad programs and/or internships are available in every major offered at NIU. Some study abroad programs can cost more than studying at the NIU campus in DeKalb, but the skills, qualities, and experiences you’ll gain make study abroad a very sound investment. Also, scholarships and financial aid are available to make study abroad more affordable for every student.

Development Most students who’ve studied abroad genuinely feel that the experience changed their life. While this statement may seem dramatic, there is research to support it. Research on the learning outcomes of study abroad is an expanding field, and there are several recent and ongoing studies that suggest that study abroad helps students to develop in many ways, allowing them to become more independent, flexible, and aware of their place in the world. Many of these developments are part of any college education, but through study abroad they are enhanced and deepened.

Experiences In NIU’s twice-weekly Study Abroad 101 information sessions, we tell students to “do it now, while you still can!” Financial aid is available to help you travel the world and enjoy once-in-alifetime experiences. Also, many students make friendships and contacts throughout the world that last much longer than their experience.

Future Employability A recent study by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) found that employers seek skills and characteristics students who have studied abroad possess. Qualities such as risk taking, flexibility, and creativity are valuable to employers, and study abroad enhances these qualities. For this reason, study abroad experience may even help you obtain a better job after graduation, because – as the world gets “smaller” – the value of study abroad to employers increases. 12

“I owe this place so much. Who I am now is a direct result of the experiences I’ve had, the people I’ve met, and the love I’ve found for Salamanca. It’s a rare joy to have the opportunity to study abroad. It was a decision that, to this day, I’m shocked I had the guts to make. But here I am...and here a part of me will always be. Ten fe en ti” -Kristen Roenfanz, Salamanca, Spain

Service and Civic Engagement Programs NIU offers several programs for students to get involved in the community through service and civic engagement. Check out the options below to find out how you can get involved with NIU and the surrounding community:

The Office of Student Engagement & Experiential Learning provides students with

several opportunities to get involved in the community.

Huskie Service Scholars

At NIU, the opportunities to get involved in service and civic engagement are endless!

The Huskie Service Scholars program pairs upper-classmen with first-generation or low-income students entering NIU for the first time. These students will work to complete 300 hours of community service and will receive $1,132 in tuition.

Project on Civic Reflection

The Project on Civic Reflection (PCR) helps NIU students, faculty, and staff come together to discuss and relate literature and media to their civic engagement experiences.


Students can learn and provide service for their communities in a variety of service-learning courses. This type of progressive education gives students a sense of empowerment and a better understanding of issues in diversity and civic responsibility. A listing of servicelearning course are available at

The Office of Student Involvement & Leadership Development (SILD), provides students with several opportunities to become more actively engaged both on and off campus.

I Serve

NIU is proud to participate in the Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge launched by President Obama. We are partnering with Feed ‘Em Soup and the Voluntary Action wCenter to help relieve hunger in our community. NIU also provides opportunities for undergraduate students to pick majors with a focus on service and civic engagement through departments like the:

Center for NGO and Leadership Development (NGOLD) Institute for the Study of the Environment, Sustainability and Energy 13

Office of Student Academic Success

Make sure you succeed by participating in the MAP-Works program. Students who participate will receive a thank you gift for each survey and could be eligible for scholarships.

If you have any questions at all, please contact the Office of Student Academic Success.

815-753-5721 The Office of Student Academic Success (OSAS) collaborates with faculty, staff, and students to provide innovative service that help students reach their academic and personal goals. Through individualized academic coaching and group workshops and programs, students are challenged to explore their academic options, define personal and academic goals, expand their support network, enhance their critical thinking skills, and graduate in a timely manner.

Why MAP-Works? Because IT WORKS! Starting a college career on the right track is important for establishing success, and NIU’s MAP-Works program is here to help from day one. Incoming students have shown the ability to earn a higher GPA, successfully complete additional courses, and reduce the risk of academic probation while benefiting from additional NIU support and assistance. All new Huskies are automatically enrolled in the MAPWorks program. MAP-Works participants complete a series of brief personal surveys regarding academic skills and behaviors, social interactions, campus involvement and overall expectations. Three surveys will be administered during the 2012-2013 academic year.

Student Success Specialists Student Success Specialists are located in each of the academic colleges as well as in the Academic Advising Center and the Division of Outreach. Specialists collaborate with students, their families, advisors, faculty members, and other administrators to develop appropriate action plans regarding personal and academic support issues. They connect students to relevant campus resources through direct referrals and personal connections. To find out who your student success specialist is, visit

Financial Cents Earn It. Keep It. Save It. Financial Cents is a campus-wide, comprehensive financial literacy program aimed at increasing student financial awareness and knowledge. Financial Cents covers a wide variety of financial issues and education through programming, workshops, informational booths, campus referrals, community involvement, and an educational and interactive website. Make sure to take advantage of this program and all of its resources, visit

The answers to these questions are combined with the student’s academic credentials and provide a summary report that highlights personal strengths and possible challenges as well as related campus resources. Students can view their reports online or print a PDF copy. Likewise, dedicated NIU faculty and staff who work with the students on a regular basis also have access to the information. Some of these professionals include instructors, academic advisors, student success specialists, and residence hall directors. Together, they provide an individualized network of support for each student by helping them achieve academic success and personal victories. 14

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Scholarship Office 815753-4829 The Scholarship Office works in coordination with the Office of Student Financial Aid to connect NIU students with various scholarship resources. Visit the NIU ScholarshipFinder System to begin your search for academic scholarship opportunities at the university. Many of these scholarships are for upperclassmen who make academic progress in their major. Be sure to search early! We recommend that students begin their search during the fall semester prior to the next academic year. One of NIU’s most prestigious scholarships is the Forward, Together Forward Scholarship. Students who have earned credit at NIU can apply for this $4000 memorial scholarship that is based on strength of character such as a strong work ethic, motivation, inspiration, a high regard for others, integrity, and intellectual curiosity. NIU also offers assistance based on financial need. Be sure to file your FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) by March 1 of the preceding academic year in order to

be considered for the maximum amount of financial aid. In addition, we sometimes have scholarship funding to assist with the cost of education. Check our web site frequently for updated scholarship opportunities, You may also want to consider looking for scholarships outside of NIU. Check with your high school guidance counselor, local organizations or affiliations (Kiwanis, 4-H, Lions Club), employers (both yours and your parents), your church, the Chamber of Commerce, or places of personal volunteerism (local hospitals, clubs, etc).

Northern Illinois University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, age, marital status, national origin, disability, status based on the Victims’ Economic Security and Safety Act (VESSA) or status as a disabled or Vietnam-era veteran. Further, the Constitution and Bylaws of Northern Illinois University provides for equal treatment regardless of political views or affiliation, and sexual orientation. Printed by authority of the State of Illinois. Designed and produced by the NIU Office of Publications and printed by NIU Document Services. E187 5M 5/13


Learn, Serve, Research, Engage  
Learn, Serve, Research, Engage  

Student Engagement Programs at Northern Illinois University