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Learning Commons

The new Quai d’Orsay Learning Commons – situated on the banks of the Seine – is the embodiment of AUP’s mission to provide a student-centered, transformative and career-enabling education. As the University’s flagship building, it emphasizes the full breadth of student opportunity on offer at AUP. It represents more than three years of work and is the pinnacle of our campus redevelopment plan. Students have access to the resources they need to advance through their university careers and beyond, all brought together in one building – something that has never before been possible at AUP.

Why a Learning Commons?

The concept of a learning commons was first introduced to higher education in the 1990s. It refers to a place in which different resources, such as libraries and IT support, can be found alongside student services such as academic advising and career counseling. It aims to establish a centralized resource base for both students and faculty. Over time, as learning commons have appeared more frequently in universities across the globe, institutions have learned which services work best together to achieve the goal of enhancing student learning and faculty teaching.

Our idea of a learning commons is broader than what you see at other institutions. Our dream was to create a site where we would have all student services – life services, learning support – all in the same place. The Quai d’Orsay building gave us that opportunity. We had already created the Combes Student Life Center, which combined the AMEX Café, student services, clubs, student government and the graduate student lounge. Now we have created a full suite of learning support services that directly connects to that.

David Horn Director of Campus Planning and Facilities

Achieving this co-location enables students to access services more easily, but this is only a first step. At AUP, we go deeper – finding interesting ways for these offices to start to integrate their work. This transformational shift means that we not only think about which services students need, but also about how we can approach the student experience in a more holistic way, providing students with relevant tools from the moment they start out at the University to when they take their first steps into employment. An effective learning commons seamlessly blends academic, personal and professional development, and this is exactly what the Learning Commons has accomplished.

What's in the Learning Commons?

The first four floors of the Quai unite academic services such as the AUP Library and the Academic Resource Center, along with study spaces, conference spaces, and IT and multimedia support. Higher up the building, the Teaching and Learning Center provides opportunities to also bring faculty into the space, bolstered by the presence of two of AUP’s research centers, the George and Irina Schaeffer Center for the Study of Genocide, Human Rights and Conflict Prevention and the Center for Critical Democracy Studies.

The Quai also connects to the existing Combes Student Life Center; the two buildings are collectively referred to as the Student Life and Learning Commons. The space therefore caters to the full range of students’ needs, so that global explorers can find the support necessary to thrive and achieve success, no matter their chosen path.