Author: Staff

ePortfolios Expert Dr. Alex Ambrose visits the Red House

Alex Ambrose

Georgetown’s Formation by Design project team met with Dr. Alex Ambrose of the University of Notre Dame for a day-long session sharing experiences with quantitative measures for Formation using ePortfolios and engagement analytics. Dr. Ambrose is Associate Director of ePortfolio Assessment at the Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning at Notre Dame, where he develops ways to integrate ePortfolios with the university curriculum and researches opportunities for analyzing portfolio engagement to predict student performance.

The consultation is part of Georgetown’s ongoing research in how engagement analytics can increase student empowerment, deepen individualized academic and career advising, and heighten mentorship possibilities between students and faculty.​

Introducing the Red House at Georgetown

What is The Red House at Georgetown?

It’s a space for innovation, a place to meet and share ideas, a place where faculty, staff and students are coming together over the summer in a “curriculum incubator’ to develop curricular experiments that break old boundaries and serve a new generation of students and alumni.

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Red House Action

Part design lab, part conference room, part coffee house — the Red House is a space uniquely dedicated to mapping new integrated curricular and co-curricular structures for Georgetown through the Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative.

Partners from across the University have come forward to bring new ideas to the table and to collaborate with new partners, defining ground-breaking ways to better educate the whole person. Inspired by the “Pump-Priming Ideas” that Provost Groves put forth earlier this semester, a range of departments have generated proposals for new degree programs. The Red House is where these transformative ideas become reality.

Please join us for discussion, informal lectures, program development sessions, and casual gatherings at The Red House at 1237 37th Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. Contact to receive mailings and information.

Reinventing the University: Sessions 1 and 2

We’ve launched a new set of discussions on how universities could teach, prepare and empower the whole person in the 21st century—a central aim of the Future(s) initiative.

By partnering with the Reinventors Network, a media startup specializing in innovation, the Future(s) initiative is bringing together leaders from across industries and higher education to discuss and debate how best to achieve this goal.

The first conversation focused on “The Whole Opportunity”—the opportunity for universities to recognize the type of person that the future demands and to imagine how universities can best prepare students to succeed and adapt in an information-driven and interconnected world.

This first panel agreed that future students will have to be agile, collaborative and creative in how they approach and solve for complex problems.

According to the conversation’s first anchor, Salim Ismail, the founding Executive Director of Singularity University, students need to have gathered a bank of knowledge from which they can “pull down information in order to accomplish the task at hand.”

The panel also discussed a variety of ways to promote this type of learning. “You learn holistically when there is a big problem to solve with others,” added Rebecca Chopp, President of Swarthmore College. One framework to develop adaptable, empowered learners is to place students in small, collaborative and diverse clusters and to challenge them with a complex problem at the onset of their academic career.

Expanding on this discussion, the second conversation, “Next Skillsets,” focused on the skills that will be needed to thrive in the workplace of tomorrow.

Universities, the second group agreed, need to orient education away from a model that prizes information delivery and retention and towards one that focuses on teaching students to think critically and develop a capacity for highly creative and collaborative problem solving.

The “Next Skillsets” panel also highlighted the need to rethink essential skills now that data driven technologies and powerful computing capabilities have meant that skills needed to harness these new tools are more important than ever.

Peter Felton, Assistant Provost and Director of the Center for Engaged Learning at Elon University, challenged the group to recognize the value of learning that draws on these new technologies and the creative human intellect. “What are the things that we can do together…that computers can’t do yet?” he questioned.

Michael McPherson, President of the Spencer Foundation, also stressed how future students must develop the ability to solve novel and complex problems that demand creative thought—not mechanical habits of mind. Cultivating a creative faculty for practical and moral judgment, he suggests, is where future students and universities are uniquely poised to focus their energies.

You can visit here to learn about Georgetown’s collaboration with Reinventors, including previous roundtables and participants.

Stay tuned for continued updates of the conversation here on the Future(s) website.

Designing a Plan for Lifelong Learning with Miami Alumni


Thirty Georgetown alumni and guests gathered at the LAB Miami (, a coworking space in the Miami arts district of Wynwood, on the evening of May 14, 2014, to imagine what the university learning environment could look like by 2030. Vice Provost for education Randy Bass and Michael Wang (B’07) of the Beeck Center for Social Impact & Innovation facilitated this “design lab,” building upon similar events held in Palo Alto, San Francisco and Austin, Texas, as part of the Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative.

This design lab challenged participants to imagine: what would it mean to be enrolled at Georgetown for life?


Bass and Wang facilitated a collaborative and design-based approach to conceptualize possibilities; participants formed small teams for brainstorming and visually representing their ideas before bringing those ideas back to the whole group for feedback and discussion.

As in previous design labs, this three-part experimental design session also challenged those in attendance to describe what it means to be a wholly-formed learner in terms of values, dispositions and abilities; to imagine the future learning environment in light of new technologies and global pressures; and to design a problem-centered degree that uses the academic curriculum to tackle authentic problems existing in society beyond the university campus. Building on these conversations, participants then addressed the question of lifelong learning, positing what different types of involvement for alumni could exist.



These design labs enable the university to engage alumni across the nation, helping Georgetown to better understand their needs and perspectives, and to use these ideas as guidance on the path to imagine, design, and implement a higher impact Georgetown curriculum that also extends beyond the traditional four years at the university.

A Deep Dive into ‘Formation’

Georgetown has received a generous gift to fund an important focus within the Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative—research on formation, a concept Georgetown has identified as central to the university’s mission .

Through alumni interviews and a series of engagements with key stakeholders and partners, the team leading the Formation by Design project seeks to define the concept of formation, taking into consideration how the emerging conditions of globalization, complexity, and social connectedness shape the outcomes we value for the development of the whole person.

Steeped in a strong Catholic and Jesuit tradition with this type of holistic education at its heart, Georgetown has a long history of educating young people in a manner that addresses the “whole person.” As such, Georgetown is uniquely situated to explore and identify structures in a learning ecosystem that have a high impact on the process of formation.

Conversations that we began last week with leaders through the Reinventors collaboration aimed at “Rethinking the University for the Whole Person,” will also contribute to these efforts. The inaugural conversation helped to helped to define what kind of person would thrive in a future world.

The Formation project will ultimately identify how universities can most effectively work towards this fundamental goal through thoughtful redesign and integration—and explore empirically measuring results of various approaches on a large scale. The project’s aim is to produce a research agenda that brings forth the concept of formation as a prominent element of today’s higher education scholarship.

Culminating in a symposium this summer, the Formation by Design project will establish a framework for further research on how colleges and universities can help guide their students to be fully human, to cultivate their authentic selves, and to inhabit a sense of personal responsibility for improving the world.

For more on the Formation by Design project, please visit

“Reinventing the University for the Whole Person”

Georgetown is partnering with Reinventors—a media startup founded by two Georgetown alumni—to bring leading thinkers and innovators together to discuss higher education today. These digital roundtables will work to shift the debate on American colleges and universities, refocusing on how universities can and must educate the “whole person.”

With Randy Bass, Georgetown’s Vice Provost for Education, Reinventors is co-hosting a series of six Google hangout discussions, each focusing on a specific subject—ranging from learning environments and metrics, to new skillsets for the whole person, to strategies in organizational change.

You can tune into the first hangout on May 6 at 2:00 p.m EST.

Jonathan Cole of Columbia Delivers Third Lecture in Speaker Series

Jonathan Cole, former Provost of Columbia University, delivered our third “Designing the Future(s)” lecture, adding to Georgetown’s ongoing dialogue about the future of higher education. In conversation with President DeGioia, Dr. Cole focused on the role of innovative approaches in cultivating an educated student body. With insight from his time at Columbia, Dr. Cole’s remarks also explored the unique challenges—and opportunities—that physical space presents for learning and research at the university, and highlighted the urgent need to reexamine of our current models and create movement in a “rapidly ossifying” infrastructure.

Dr. Cole is the author of The Great American University: Its Rise to Preeminence, Its Indispensable National Role, Why It Must be Protected and the upcoming Who’s Afraid of Academic Freedom? He is also editor of The Research University in a Time of Discontent.

Learn more about his talk and see his remarks here.

Georgetown brings the Future(s) Initiative to SxSW

The disruptions of technology are affecting every aspect of our community—in fact, they are fundamentally changing the way our students learn and the expectations that they have for their time at the University.sxswedu

At SxSWedu—an education-focused offshoot of the renowned music and interactive festival SxSW—Provost Bob Groves, Chief Information Officer Lisa Davis and Program Manager for Innovation & New Media Michael Wang explored how we are meeting these new challenges through connecting our infrastructure to what we learn and how we live at Georgetown.

Since its inception in 2011, SxSWedu has provided the education community with a place to connect, collaborate, create and change how we teach and learn. The conference has grown more than five times it original size, now hosting more than 7000 education champions in celebration of innovation. Ideas discussed at SxSWedu have a far-reaching impact—inspiring new techniques of educational instruction and a deep conversation in why, how, what students learn. The idea is to break down some of the barriers that traditional education models impose and to improve education at all grade levels.

Also in Austin, Georgetown hosted a Design Lab, alumni meet ups and a reception to continue the conversation about the future of higher education, and Georgetown’s future specifically. At our headlining event, “Designing the University from the Inside,” Provost Groves and CIO Davis shared insights on the changes we are making: laying the technological groundwork for a fully connected and integrated Georgetown experience, integrating high-impact experiences with the academic curriculum, and rethinking traditional models of student-teacher interaction.

“We are interested in building blended courses and flipped classrooms,” said Provost Groves. “But the goal of all of these [experiments], is to increase the amount of time that faculty have with students in rich, deep dialogue.”

Highlighting our ITEL initiative and SkillHack: The Provost’s Challenge, the panel also showcased innovation at Georgetown, encouraging collaborations among faculty and students. These more seamless and integrative initiatives—inside and outside the classroom—create high-impact experiences that continue to affect students long after they leave Georgetown’s campus.


Please join us in expanding the conversation about Designing the Future(s) of the University, where we explore important issues in higher education through this blog. Here guest bloggers will weigh in, focusing on discussions resonating throughout our community – questions of preserving the Georgetown education we value and charting our path forward.

Thinkers from within and beyond the University – leading voices on the changing nature of education such as Vice Provost Randy Bass – will be regular contributors to the blog, setting the stage for innovation at Georgetown.

President DeGioia and Provost Groves launched Georgetown’s Designing the Future(s) of the University Initiative on November 20, 2013 by highlighting the three “interlocking and mutually reinforcing” aims of the university: the formation of our students, the scholarship of our faculty and the pursuit of the common good. Susan Hockfield, former President of MIT, brought new perspective on January 30, asserting that “the core of the university is discovery, it’s innovation” – in speaking about both our studies and our institution itself.

This is one place to continue these discussions, to exchange ideas and perspectives, and to push ourselves into deeper exploration of these larger questions that our institutions face.