BCC Integrates Learning Communities into Curriculum

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. —  Learning communities are now part of the curriculum, and at BCC, a learning community is a small group of students, enrolled together in two joined courses who work in collaboration toward shared academic goals.  
 
Based on a national model, learning communities at BCC enroll a maximum of 22 students and are taught by two faculty members, creating the opportunity for students and faculty to form connections in a supportive academic environment of curiosity and growth. During the current fall 2022 semester, BCC is offering two inaugural learning communities based on the theme of "Stay Local, Go Global." The first learning community, called "Diasporas: Identity and Belonging Away from Home" includes introductory English and Liberal Arts classes, while the second, "Language and Culture in Our Global Society," comprises communications and history classes. 
 
"Research shows that learning communities promote equity, a stronger sense of belonging and a deeper engagement in course content," said Interim Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Laurie Gordy, who said she expects positive student outcomes including a greater sense of connection to faculty and peers; a clearer sense of personal and academic goals; higher rates of student success; and development of skills that employers want, such as teamwork, critical thinking and effective communication.  
 
Constance Berman, Chair of the Department of Communication, Language and Humanities, and June Tooley, Chair of the Department of History and Government, work together to teach the Language and Culture learning community and have observed positive reactions from students enrolled in their classes. An informal poll of these students yielded comments like, "It is helping me understand more about how others think and about cultures that are new to us," "It's good to be able to bounce ideas off each other," "You take two classes but it feels like one" and "Great collaboration leads to a successful path as a group." 
 
"The collaborative learning experience for our students is rich. They are finding ways to deepen their education by making connections with the scholarly material in concrete ways," Berman said.  "They see communication and world history touching their own lives."  
 
The learning communities are also impactful for faculty. "As professors, we relish bouncing ideas off each other and finding new ways to be effective," Tooley said. 
 
For more information about learning communities at BCC, contact Dr. Laurie Gordy at lgordy@berkshirecc.edu

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DA Clears Trooper in Fatal Hancock Shooting

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

District Attorney Timothy Shugrue says the results of an autopsy by the medical examiner will not change his findings, which are based on the video and witnesses. With him are State Police Lts. Chris Bruno and Ryan Dickinson and First Assistant District Attorney Marianne Shelvey.
 
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — District Attorney Timothy Shugrue has determined that State Police Trooper William Munch acted in compliance during what is being described as a "suicide by cop" earlier this month.
 
On Sept. 9, 64-year-old Phillip Henault reportedly placed a fictitious 911 call about an ongoing violent assault. Body-camera footage from the trooper shows the man advancing on him with two knives before being shot twice and collapsing in the street in front of his Richmond Road residence.
 
"Mr. Henault was actively using deadly force against law enforcement. There were no other objectively reasonable means that the trooper could have employed at the time in order to effectively protect himself and anyone that was in the home or the public. By virtue of his duties as a police officer, the trooper did not have the obligation to run away from Mr. Henault," Shugrue said during a press conference on Friday.
 
"Mr. Henault posed an active threat to the trooper and to the public. The trooper had a duty to arrest Mr. Henault who was engaged in various felonies. His arm was an active threat."
 
The DA determined that Munch's decision to fire his weapon at Henault under the circumstances was a "lawful and reasonable exercise of self-defense and defense of others" compliance with the policies of the State Police and commonwealth law, clearing the trooper of criminal charges and closing the investigation.
 
The lethal force was labeled as an "unavoidable last resort."
 
A preliminary autopsy determined the unofficial cause of death was two gunshot wounds to the torso with contributing factors of wounds to the wrists that were inflicted by Heneault. The final report from the medical examiner has not been issued.
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