Tesla House

Tesla House is a special housing community just for first-year students who are thinking about majors in Physics, Geology or Education. Tesla House is located in Monroe Hall, which is the newest residence hall on campus and has Gold LEED certification. 60 spaces are reserved for first year students and transfer students who apply to Tesla House.

Monroe Hall

Tesla House identifier

Quick Facts

  • There are 50 first-year students who live in Tesla House: 20 Physics majors, 15 Geology majors, 10 Elementary Education majors and about 15 students who are undecided or have other majors
  • There is a Math and Physics Tutor dedicated to supporting Tesla House students. 
  • Tesla House students take the required first-year writing course (INTD 105) together
  • Tesla students participate in the Common Summer Book Read
  • A 1-credit, Integrative Project Seminar (XLRN 102) taught in the spring semester is only for Tesla House students and teaches them inquiry, critical thinking, and presentation skills as they choose, execute, and present their work at GREAT Day.
  • Tesla House Mentors, students who lived in the Tesla House their first year, offer support new Tesla House students.
  • Discovery Cafe: a project started as a CIL Student Ambassadorship is now run by Tesla House Mentors and students.

What is a Living-Learning Community?

A Living-Learning Community (LLC) is a group of students who choose to live together in a Residence Hall to explore a common interest.  Each LLC has a shared academic component (e.g., course, faculty-led workshops, service trip) and is strengthened by co-curricular experiences that align with the community's interests and goals.

The Learning Outcomes of our Living-Learning Communities are from the GLOBE document, which outlines outcomes for all SUNY Geneseo students upon graduation:

  1. Integrative Inquiry: To ask meaningful questions connecting personal experiences to academic study and co-curricular life; to synthesize multiple bodies of knowledge to address real-world problems and issues.
  2. Application and Transfer: To adapt and apply skills, theories, and methods gained in one or more domains to new situations.
  3. Reflection: To reflect upon changes in learning and outlook over time; to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection.

Goals of Tesla House

  1. Students will integrate across their disciplines through experiential learning.

  2. Students will increase their learning through peer education.

Tesla's Namesake

Tesla House is named after Nikola Tesla, a Serbian-American inventor and engineer who is most famous for his contributions to the design of the alternating current (AC) electricity supply system. Tesla immigrated to New York City in 1884 and went to work for Thomas Edison. After resigning from Edison Machine Works, Tesla started his own company and went on to invent an induction motor powered by a rotating magnetic field. Tesla was also an integral part of the design and construction of the Niagara Falls Power Plant, the first hydroelectric power plant in the world. Adam's Power Station is the only part of the original power plant that is still standing today and it is National Landmark Historic Site. The Nikola Tesla Memorial is located on Goat Island, between the American Falls and the Canadian Falls. He has around 300 patents from 26 countries. His curiosity, diligence, and excitement in problem solving (in and outside his discipline) are the same characteristics we hope to instill in Tesla House students.

How to Apply

All housing placements for Tesla House are based upon application review. Applicants must have submitted complete answers to all questions in the application to be considered for placement. Only those who submit an application for Tesla House by the housing deadlines listed on the housing selection website may be considered for placement. In addition to the questions in the application, you will be able to indicate your interest in one of the three majors of Tesla House (Geology, Physics, or Education). If individuals are interested in more than one major, we ask that they list a preference so we can assign residents to one of the three tracks offered. You can find more information on the housing process at housing for incoming students.

Academic Requirements


Students in Tesla House are required to take a First-Year Seminar in their respective major during the Fall Semester as well as the course(s) they need for their major.

In addition to the courses needed for their major, Tesla House students, as part of a living-learning community, are required to take:

Fall Semester

ENVR 188 - This fall-semester course will introduce three things: the Genesee Valley in which you now live, the principles of sustainability, and how six different liberal arts disciplines make sense of those first two subjects. Introductory material will be covered through a series of two-week online modules, along with flexible opportunities for discovering more about local civic and biotic communities. A portion of the curriculum will ask you to integrate what you’re learning and what you’re doing. This course is taught on a pass/fail basis.

INTD 105 - Geneseo's core writing course; special sections are reserved for Tesla House students and taught in Monroe Hall.

"Nature Writing" - Professor Ken Cooper, English; meets TR 8:30 am - 9:45 am - This course will consider nature writing from at least a couple of perspectives. The first is that, regardless of your interests, everything has an ecology: all the objects surrounding you, including the food that metabolizes to become your body. Writing becomes a process of discovery for our ecological connectedness. The other perspective is that the genre of nature writing dates back more than two centuries, emerging as a response to industrialization, and now is in desperate need of rethinking for our own era of climate change, digital spaces, and biotechnologies. Your writing will help contribute to that endeavor.

Learn more about the work students did in 2018 at the Nature Writing course blog.  And check out their end of the semester reflections and Story Map after each person in the class spent 30 minutes one day observing Geneseo to cover a 6 am to 6 pm time period.

Introduction to Sustainable Systems - 1 credit, integrative online course from Geography, Humanities, Geology, Economics, Ecology, and Native American studies

Spring Semester

INTD 102 - Integrative Project Seminar; opportunity to learn valuable group research skills and present at GREAT Day.

Optional Courses

Lastly, students in Tesla House who need science general education courses, are recommended to take the following courses.  These are recommended because students will be living with GSCI and PHYS majors, who can serve as peer educators.

Fall 2020 - GSCI 140/141 (Environmental Science)

Spring 2020 - PHYS 106/107 (Physics of Light and Color)

The Common Book, Summer Reading Program

Members of Tesla House, Dante House, Entre House and AOP will participate in a common read over the summer. You will be assigned to meet in discussion groups about the book during move-in weekend. Geneseo students, faculty, and staff will lead the discussion groups.

Book for the 2020-2021 cohort: Why They Marched by Susan WareFor far too long, the history of how American women won the right to vote has been told as the tale of a few iconic leaders, all white and native-born. But Susan Ware uncovered a much broader and more diverse story waiting to be told. Why They Marched is a tribute to the many women who worked tirelessly in communities across the nation, out of the spotlight, protesting, petitioning, and insisting on their right to full citizenship.  We meet Mary Church Terrell, a multilingual African American woman; Rose Schneiderman, a labor activist building coalitions on New York’s Lower East Side; Claiborne Catlin, who toured the Massachusetts countryside on horseback to drum up support for the cause; Mary Johnston, an aristocratic novelist bucking the Southern ruling elite; Emmeline W. Wells, a Mormon woman in a polygamous marriage determined to make her voice heard; and others who helped harness a groundswell of popular support. We also see the many places where the suffrage movement unfolded—in church parlors, meeting rooms, and the halls of Congress, but also on college campuses and even at the top of Mount Rainier. Few corners of the United States were untouched by suffrage activism.Ware’s deeply moving stories provide a fresh account of one of the most significant moments of political mobilization in American history. The dramatic, often joyous experiences of these women resonate powerfully today, as a new generation of young women demands to be heard. 

Susan Ware is a celebrated feminist historian and biographer, is the author of American Women’s History: A Very Short Introduction and Letter to the World: Seven Women Who Shaped the American Century, among other books. She is the editor of American Women’s Suffrage: Voices from the Long Struggle for the Vote, 1776–1965 and is Honorary Women’s Suffrage Centennial Historian at Radcliffe’s

One accepted into Tesla House, students are responsible for reading the book before they arrive on campus in the fall. Students can purchase the book, an audio book, or borrow the book from a library.

The Tesla Project - INTD 102 - Integrative Project Seminar

All members of Tesla House will have the opportunity to choose and execute a project for a 1 credit course in the spring semester. These projects are student-generated and student run, with help from faculty and staff. They may be a service project, identifying and proposing solutions to a community problem, or a project that complements your coursework with out-of-the-classroom experience. Students will form small groups composed of all three majors and they will choose a project to work on from faculty and staff suggestions as well as their own. Dr. Reitz will work with each of the groups throughout the semester to understand the process behind choosing and following a project through. Final projects will be posters that students will present at GREAT Day.

Opportunities for Tesla House Students

Letchworth-Geneseo Experience

Join incoming Tesla House students for a pre-semester trip to Letchworth State Park. Get a jump start to the semester with the 1 credit course designed to introduce you to Geneseo, Letchworth, and college courses. A pre-semester trip open to all students, but designed for Tesla House students to meet each other before the semester begins, to get an introduction to one of Tesla House's Faculty Fellows, Dr. Jim Kernan, to explore Letchworth State Park, and to understand connections between science, nature, and education. More information on the Letchworth-Geneseo Experience.

Field Trip Opportunities

  • Professor Jo Kirk's Apple Farm
  • Explore the eGarden (Geneseo's energy garden) with Physics Professor Steve Padalino and Dan DeZarn, Director of Sustainability
  • Nikola Tesla's Hydroelectric Dam in Niagara Falls, the first of its kind, built in 1895
  • Museum of Play in Rochester, NY
  • Geneseo's War Plane Museum, just minutes from the college
  • Worm Power - a Worm Farm located 10 mi from the campus in Avon, NY

Peer Education Opportunities

  • Math and Physics Tutor designated for Tesla House and holds office hours in the Residence Hall
  • TAs for various courses hold office hours in Monroe Hall
  • Collaboration with Eco House students
  • Geneseo Central Schools Math, Science, Technology Fair judges
  • Autism Nature Trail (ANT) volunteerism in Letchworth State Park

Questions or Concerns?

Meg Reitz, PhD, Associate Director of Residence Life for Educational Initiatives
Phone Number: 585-245-5726
Email: reitzm@geneseo.edu