Author: Samuel Holley

Release of Formation by Design Symposium Keynote Address Video

The video of Daniel R. Porterfield‘s keynote address at the Second Annual Formation by Design Symposium, given on June 16, 2015, is now available. Part of the Formation by Design (FxD) Project, the Symposium addressed ways that higher education can shape not just what our students know, but also who they become.

View the video of Porterfield’s speech here:

Porterfield, a Georgetown alumnus, is President of Franklin & Marshall College and former Senior Vice President for Strategic Development at Georgetown. In his keynote, he emphasized that designing systems the support formation is about creating the right context in the right ethos so the difficult choices are easy to make in the moment, and symposium participants engaged in a design activity to prototype around his words.

One of the products that came out of the Symposium was an online interactive workspace for Formation by Design, a networked inquiry community that unites faculty, administrators, and innovators globally who are dedicated to designing for whole person learning in an informal and collaborative online environment.

Future(s) Team Members Participate in Georgetown’s First Studio Learning Symposium

Designing the Future(s) team members played a key role in Georgetown’s first Studio Learning Symposium this July, which assembled a diverse cohort of faculty, students, and administrators to explore the potential for studio-based pedagogies in Georgetown’s learning ecosystem. A studio learning environment, usually understood to emphasize project-based collaborative learning with an emphasis on feedback and iteration, is at the heart of many Future(s) projects. Studio is one important way in which faculty and staff have rethought traditional classroom environments, immersed students in experiential learning, and bridged the curricular and co-curricular.




The Studio Learning Symposium was co-sponsored by the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship and the Georgetown University Writing Program, and it was facilitated by Georgetown professors Maggie Debelius and Sherry Linkon. Debelius and Linkon are part of a team leading the creation of the Minor in Writing, Design, and Communication in partnership with the Red House. The new program would award students a minor for successful completion of one-credit studio courses and student-led projects guided by faculty mentors.


Read more about the Studio Learning Symposium here.



Inaugural Beeck Center Futures Fellows Cohort Addresses Global Challenges

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.

Second Formation by Design Symposium Explored Placing Whole Person at Center of Learning

Symposium Tad
Symposium Randy Speaking
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The second Formation by Design Symposium welcomed international leaders, faculty, and designers in higher education to Georgetown University from June 15 to 17, 2015. This year’s symposium asked participants to explore ways of putting ‘whole student’ formation at the center of curricular and co-curricular endeavors. How can higher education shape not just what our students know, but also who they become?

Symposium Abbey and Nandini

The Symposium began with Vice Provost for Education Randy Bass proposing “straw” design principles for whole person formation and inviting participants to help shape them by sharing perspectives and practices from their communities. The second day featured a series of provocations by guest speakers and design exercises prompting participants to explore integrative learning experiences with formation at their heart. Provocateurs and design facilitators ranged from international scholars in learning analytics to Georgetown University students.

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Day 2 ended with an inspiring keynote address by Georgetown alumnus and President of Franklin and Marshall College, Dan Porterfield, who spoke about the future of access and whole person formation in higher education. “The notion of the whole person must start with this,” Porterfield said during his talk Tuesday evening. “Each individual has an intrinsic worth, an intrinsic dignity, that is irreducible. Each individual has an eminence, a grandeur to him or her that our societies ought to honor and protect and develop.”
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The final day of the Symposium asked participants to reflect on the previous days’ provocations and design activities to imagine practices and systems for whole person formation in higher education contexts ten years in the future. Components of the vision for 2025 included integrating the impact of the curriculum through mentoring and a focus on equity and intergroup relations; broadening assessment to include formational outcomes; and exploring dashboards, alternative expanding transcripts, and other digital and experiential sites for reflection and integration of learning. With this vision in mind, participants then identified three levers of change they could potentially use to strengthen their institution’s efforts around whole student formation.

Symposium Group Table work

As the Red House team synthesizes outputs from the Symposium and begins writing a second Formation by Design progress report, attendees from across the world have returned to their institutions newly invigorated to respond to our emerging learning ecosystem. Designing for formation in this new context means approaching education with the goal of “life purpose for everyone,” suggested Susan Albertine, vice president for diversity, equity, and student success at the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Georgetown’s Vice Provost for Education Randall Bass agreed with Albertine, noting that “that’s a motto we can affix to formation.”

Symposium Mike Wang

To learn more about the presenters and attendees and to review presentation materials and resources, visit the Symposium website and follow the conversation on Twitter.

Chad Anderson and Alexandra McCarthy also contributed to this post.