There has not been a moment more full of promise for higher education than the present; the significance of this moment for Georgetown is tremendous as we seek to meet the urgent challenges before us with innovative strategy and the extraordinary resources of our community.
How could we design a university for the future that would have liberal education values at its center but be appropriate for the world of 2025 and beyond? What kind of student-centered university is possible right now that we could only create at this moment?
Designing the Future(s) of the University is an integrative initiative engaging the whole Georgetown community. It is an exploration of issues facing higher education. And it is active experimentation with new ways to deliver the education we value into the future.
The forces transforming higher education have been building. In a landscape shifted by globalization and technology, universities face urgent questions of cost and value, quality, flexibility and relevance. The Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative is our strategic institutional response to the widespread and noisy national conversation about the nature and value of traditional university education. Is college worth it? Will the university be disrupted by massive online education and the burgeoning Web-based options for learning skills and content? What is the long-term value proposition of a residential education that aspires to prepare students for a life of professional success, personal flourishing and to make a difference in the world?
Rather than responding to these disruptions by narrowly focusing on preserving who we are, we must act with purpose and vision—we must treat our future as a challenge of design, creativity and imagination.
The work of the Initiative builds upon a tradition of more than 225 years of excellence, innovation in teaching and learning, and a commitment to the flourishing of the whole person.
In April 2014, we released a document called “Five Pump-priming Ideas,” in which we invited the community to imagine the Georgetown education of the future.
Faculty and staff answered the call with bold ideas and experimentation. These efforts have led to rethinking of the most fundamental structures of the traditional higher education model: including courses, credits tied to seat time, the 15-week semester, the four-year bachelor’s degree, and curricular and co-curricular divide.
The site for this experimentation is a small red townhouse just across the street from campus, a place that has come to be known as The Red House. The Red House is a safe creative space for faculty and staff to spin out new ideas that have the potential to deepen student learning and improve the teaching experience of faculty while reinventing the university’s model. The Red House brings together faculty creative teams with process stakeholders (registrar, deans offices, financial aid, state authorization) to help shape radical ideas into achievable experiments—without losing their essential boundary-pushing character.
To make this kind of institutional design and transformation possible, the Red House facilitates an agile design process with and mediates between:
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