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Sunday, October 17, 2021

Aggie Square offers new way for UC Davis students to experience education

UC Davis is developing a new creative and hands-on learning environment on the Sacramento campus that offers unique quarterly programs for students

Aggie Square is an innovative, exploratory program on the Sacramento UC Davis Health campus where students can live, work and assist the community in quarter-long programs called “experiences.” Development and planning began in 2017 in a collaboration with Chancellor Gary May and Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg, as stated on the Aggie Square website. Since then, the program has virtually launched its first quarters of the immersive learning experience, Quarter at Aggie Square (QAS).

    The physical campus of Aggie Square has not yet been constructed. The plans to construct a multi-use residential structure and the Alice Waters Institute project were approved May 2021 by UC regents. The first phase of construction is set to begin mid-2021, according to the Aggie Square website. 

“Phase 1 plans [are] comprised of: a lifelong learning office and classroom building; two science and technology buildings; housing, primarily for students; community serving uses; a parking structure and public spaces,” according to the website.

Aggie Square as a whole is a centralized learning environment where students, professors and community members can collaborate and have opportunities to make lasting impacts on the Sacramento community.

“It’s an innovation hub,” said Tanya Perez, the communications lead for Aggie Square. “It is where industry, university and community are supposed to come together and overlap in ways that make all three stronger.”

    The programs for QAS consist of quarterly immersive learning environments where small “cohorts” work closely on topics of current social, community and political issues.

“Studying with QAS was different compared to my regular class experience because of the small cohort size,” said Kyerah Kyles, a third-year community regional development and African American/African studies double major. “There were less than 13 people in our cohort and we all took the same classes together so it really gave us the opportunity to connect with each other since we shared the same joys and challenges.”

Kyles participated in the Transformative Justice Studies experience, but the QAS experience has also provided cohorts in Advancing Health Care Equity and Multilingual Education for California since fall 2020.

    “The Quarter at Aggie Square programs are going to change each quarter,” Perez said. “They do things with the community that are right there surrounding that area.” 

    Located in Sacramento, Aggie Square provides close proximity to government and medical buildings where UC Davis students can participate in hands-on learning.

    “They’re encouraging faculty to come up with something that they would like to teach in an immersive sort of way,” Perez said. “All of your classes would be related to a certain subject for a quarter.”

    Within the set list of classes each quarter, QAS also provides internship and community engagement opportunities

“The ability for students to immediately apply what they’re learning in the classroom to current sociopolitical issues and an internship experience is not new, but it is unique in that their entire Quarter at Aggie Square quarter is dedicated to a central, multi-faceted experience,” said Angela Taylor, the program coordinator for Quarter at Aggie Square, in a blog post.

To stay in line with UC Davis’ environmental goals and policies, efforts have been made to ensure that the new constructions are beneficial to the community as well as environmentally conscious through the holding of community and stakeholder meetings, according to the Aggie Square website. 

The meetings resulted in a Community Benefits Partnership Agreement. Some of the highlights of the agreement are $50 million for affordable housing, jobs for local community members, an annual fund for neighborhood priorities and Broadway and Stockton improvements.

“Aggie Square will meet or exceed LEED Silver by incorporating measures that will result in significant energy savings, construction waste reduction, recycled material use and water conservation,” said Matt Dulcich, the director of environmental planning for the project.

    Ways in which they will achieve this include all electric heating and cooling systems, as well as increasing accessibility by making safer walking and biking paths across campus and easier access to transit lines, according to Dulcich.
Written by: Emily Redman — campus@theaggie.org

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