The Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation recently released a video to share the lessons and experiences of the first cohort of students to participate in the Beeck Center’s Futures Fellowship, a new experiential program that connects the learning of Georgetown undergraduates to real-world issues:
In January 2015, the Beeck Center partnered with Designing the Future(s) to launch the Futures Fellowship, which in its initial phase provided 23 Georgetown students with the opportunity to address complex social challenges freed from the constraints of the traditional lecture, grades, and credits model. Turning theory into practice, fellows worked with a real-life client to scale and improve an existing social innovation program.
The inaugural cohort of Fellows attended a weekly zero-credit course and served as consultants to the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. The Fellows were charged with helping to scale the Ateneo University’s feeding program, which currently serves approximately 21,000 meals a day to low-income students attending public schools in the Metro-Manila area. The objective of this fellowship was to figure out a way, by working in teams, to scale the feeding program from 21,000 to 2,000,000 meals a day.
Futures Fellows Teaching Assistant Sacha Robehmed saw first hand through her work with the fellows that “they’re not doing it for grades, they’re not doing it for themselves. They’re doing it because they want to make a difference.”
The Fellows gave final presentations at the end of April, proposing marketing campaigns, new uses for technology, and other strategies for expanding the feeding program. In May, the Beeck Center sent a team of students, including one Futures Fellow, to Manila for the Center’s 10-week GU Impact Global Internship Program to continue to engage with the Ateneo University on its efforts to address social problems in Manila.
In addition to addressing societal challenges on the other side of the world, the value of the Futures Fellowship is to immerse Georgetown students in experiential, solutions-based learning to prepare them for the real world. Trixia Apiado, Beeck Center Futures Fellow and School of Foreign Service Class of 2018, reflects that “one of the things we learned is that we can’t solve it in a semester, and that’s kind of hard to reconcile, but it’s also the real world.” Perhaps most valuably, students learned that dealing with complex societal problems in the 21st century takes time, and that they must work for longer than a semester to effect lasting change.