Date of Award


Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

First Advisor

Karen Nordstrom

Second Advisor

Walter Poleman


University of Vermont, Sustainability House, third places, residential learning communities, student development, cooperative housing


This study investigates Residential Learning Communities (RLCs) as places of union for academic and non-academic student development. Through the lens of a “Third Places” framework, this study examines RLCs’ physically and philosophically established community spaces as fertile grounds for holistic student growth, while considering their limitations and obstacles. This study specifically investigates the University of Vermont’s Sustainability House Residential Learning Community, which is made up of University Heights South (once GreenHouse) and Harris Hall. This study has been carried out with the intent of examining UVM’s expectations and values, alongside the experience of the student body. Through a case study of Sustainability House, triangulation of observational data, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups, with Sustainability House residents and staff, this study shall assess how physically and philosophically structured Third Places within Residential Learning communities facilitate students’ holistic development in a specific university setting. This study shall provide a non-administrative, student-administered analysis, and will serve as a platform through which both student and institutional standards and expectations are synthesized upon common ground.