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Novel Course Cluster Explores “Challenges in Childhood and Society”

No matter what professions Georgetown undergraduate students ultimately pursue, they will likely encounter a longstanding local and global issue — the challenges faced by vulnerable children when it comes to their physical, cognitive, social and behavioral development.

To help students understand and respond to those challenges, a group of professors from Georgetown University’s main campus and medical center have developed a novel set of courses that involve undergraduates in interventions and solutions to pressing problems that too many children face.

To read more about the Challenges in Childhood course cluster, click here.

Dr. Marcia Chatelain Kicks off the Red House Dinner Series

Last Wednesday, Designing the Future(s) hosted Dr. Marcia Chatelain and a group of 15 undergraduates at our inaugural event for the Red House Dinner Series. The event brings together students and outstanding professors from across the university in conversations on higher education in the 21st century.

Dr. Chatelain, professor of History and a scholar of black girlhood during the Great Migration, shared her insights on working, living, and learning on Georgetown’s campus. The group responded to questions about the role of technology and social media in engaging students and faculty, the intersections of national events and in-class pedagogy, and embracing feminist voices and intersectional activism. Chatelain also shared strategies for “staying legible” to family when coming home from college, and the importance of developing shared vocabularies in community spaces.

The Red House Dinner Series will run through the Spring semester. If you are a student looking to attend the Series, you can sign up here. If you are a faculty member who would like to share your work or join our conversations around modern issues in higher education, please email the Red House at


You can learn more about Dr. Chatelain’s scholarship and teaching at her website.

Challenges in Childhood and Society

The Challenges in Childhood and Society course cluster consists of four 1-credit modules that can be bundled together to create a cohesive interdisciplinary experience for students. Collectively, the courses intensively focus on research, practice, and policy perspectives related to children’s physical health, and cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development and the social contexts in which children live, learn, and play. These courses, which will begin running in Fall 2016, allow faculty from both Main Campus and the Medical Center for an experience that combines classroom and site-based work and exposes students to a wide array of academic disciplines and research and teaching practices through both community-based learning and intensive seminar and policy courses.

For more information about this course cluster, visit


UNXP-200 (Principles in Childhood and Society): January 11 – February 6, 2017
UNXP-201 (Community Practices): February 7 – March 27, 2017
UNXP-202 (Policy in Childhood and Society): March 28 – May 1, 2017
UNXP-203 (Contemporary Issues in Childhood and Society): March 28 – May 1, 2017

Formation in the 21st Century

A couple of years ago I wrote a post that reflected on many conversations with alumni, as well as parents and potential employers of Georgetown students. The gist of the message was their call for Georgetown to continue to produce values-centered, broadly-educated, creative, articulate graduates, but also expose them to skills that equip them well for 21st century leadership.

Since that time, through the work of many faculty and students, especially those taking advantage of the Designing the Future(s) initiative at the Red House incubator, we’ve made progress. Focus groups and design studios were held around the country with young alumni, who provided ideas about what experiences would have been helpful to them while studying at Georgetown. They assessed their courses at Georgetown with different eyes, enriched by their work-life events post-graduation. They expressed their own desires for a continuation of their Georgetown education. In a sense, they were thirsting to revisit aspects of the core liberal education curriculum, perhaps a little wiser about its value to them.

We also analyzed the lifecycle of undergraduates at Georgetown. We discovered that many were accumulating credits over their years that permitted them to graduate at the normal end of their eighth semester, but take a smaller than full course load in their last semester. In focus group discussions with them, some expressed the desire for learning that would be a useful bridge from the courses in their major and associated electives, on one hand, and their career/professional aspirations, on the other. More food for thought.

Conversations with faculty members and curricular designers followed. Gradually the idea of attempting to serve both seniors and young alumni emerged – the “Bridge Courses” were conceptualized.

The first editions of Bridge Courses are being offered this semester. They are all 1-credit courses. They are a mix of offerings – some permit the acquisition of skills valued in the 21st Century workplace; others are structured reflection on key choices that unlock lasting meaning in one’s life.

To get a sense of the latter set—known as Revisiting the Core courses—there is a course that examines how one can discern one’s authentic self, in the context of social norms that influence other outcomes. There is a course addressing how to maintain one’s identity and values in a world of rapidly changing features, where social relations are constantly impinging on traditional ways of doing things.

Regarding more concrete work-related skills, there are courses on techniques of negotiation, data visualization, story-telling, and one for those seniors trying to identify an ideal career in synthesis with their full curricular experiences at Georgetown.

An email announcement was distributed to all seniors about the courses. In a matter of hours most of the courses were filled. Several have waiting lists. So the planners may have hit upon a real need.

In some sense this is a launch phase, but it could not have taken place without some administrative changes to permit courses spanning all schools and a lot of work by faculty and staff. This semester, most of the attention has been placed on graduating seniors. Our next step is to build out the young alumni piece, piloting a whole range of new ways to sustain Georgetown’s ongoing formational relationship with alumni five years or fewer out. We also hope that the Bridge Course platform will provide a novel new context to help 8th-semester seniors network with recent graduates.

This semester marks very visible progress on the goal of a fuller preparation of our graduates for effective and fulfilling lives in the modern world. Kudos to all those who worked so diligently to achieve this step!

This post was originally published on the Provost’s blog on January 18, 2017. 

Historic Youth Delegation Attends CEC Council Session in Mexico

In early September, a small delegation from Georgetown attended the 23rd Summit of the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s (CEC) Council. The CEC is a trinational organization dedicated to addressing North American environmental concerns. The delegation to the CEC was organized by the Environmental Future(s) Initiative (EFI) and generously cosponsored by the Offices for the Vice President for Global Engagement and the Provost. An account of the delegation’s experiences in Mexico is below.  Continue reading

Future(s) Catalyst Badge Program Featured in Chronicle of Higher Education

This past week, the Chronicle of Higher Education published an article detailing milestones in digital credentialing. One of these milestones is the Catalyst Badge Program, a partnership between the Designing the Future(s) Initiative, the Division of Student Affairs at Georgetown University, and Education Design Lab (EDL). To read more about the Catalyst program milestone, 21st Century Badging, and other developments in digital badging and credentials, please read the full Chronicle article here.


Reimagining Experiential Learning at Georgetown

The Designing the Future(s) Initiative convened a group of faculty and staff whose work focuses on Experiential Learning during a Productive Open Design Space (PODS), part of the Center for New Designs in Learning & Scholarship’s Teaching, Learning & Innovation Summer Institute of 2016.


With the facilitation of CNDLS and Dawan Stanford from the Education Design Lab, the team met over four days with the goal of exploring collaborative approaches to Experiential Learning at the university. The PODS group consisted of Vice Provost Randall Bass and Director for Education and Academic Affairs Catherine Armour from the Office of the Provost; Beth Harlan and Mike Schaub from the Career Center; Craig Rinker and Jason Sanderson from the Office of Global Education; Matt Fortier from the Beeck Center for Social Innovation; Sonia Jacobson from Undergraduate Research; Erika Cohen-Derr from the Office of Student Engagement; and Andria Wisler and Amanda Munroe from the Center for Social Justice. Each of these campus units offers unique experiential learning opportunities for students; examples include CBL courses and Alternative Breaks through CSJ; GU Impacts through the Beeck Center, and study abroad opportunities through OGE. The cohort focused its efforts on creating a united front to support and enhance experiential learning opportunities at Georgetown.


The group worked towards rebundling the college experience and heightening collaboration between their organizations. Through a series of brainstorming and matrix activities aimed at identifying common goals and potential areas of collaboration, participants ultimately developed plans to pilot a common student application process for fellowships and other opportunities on campus and streamlining university funding, a shared vocabulary for experiential learning initiatives, and an online portfolio to document students’ educational journeys throughout university and beyond.

The cohort will continue to meet throughout the summer and the coming academic year to further iterate on the work spearheaded in the PODS groups over the course of the week.



Georgetown has launched a new program designed to expand opportunities for students from traditionally underserved communities pursuing studies in the sciences.

The Regents Science Scholars Program, funded by a $1.2 million investment from alumni Joe Zimmel (C’75) and Alison Lohrfink Blood (B’81), leverages the success of Georgetown’s innovation and efforts to address the critical shortage of underserved and first-generation college students who successfully complete degrees in the sciences. (read more)

Future(s) Initiative profiled in Chronicle on Higher Education

The Red House’s curricular experiments at Georgetown University have been featured in the Chronicle of Higher Education as part of their “Re:Learning project,” which provides stories and analysis about the changing landscape of higher education. Goldie Blumenstyk profiled Randy Bass and interviewed several Georgetown faculty members about the process of bringing these curricular experiments to fruition. For the full story on the Future(s) Intiative’s reinvention efforts, visit The Chronicle

Launch of the 2016 Deloitte Foundation Data Analytics Fellowship


The Designing the Future(s) Initiative, in partnership with the Deloitte Foundation, kicked off the second year of the Deloitte Foundation Data Analytics Fellowship at Georgetown University this past Monday with the 2016 theme of Education and the Workforce.

The current context of higher education is characterized by rising tuition costs, a more diversified student population, and emerging data that connect post-baccalaureate engagement in the workplace and in civic life with high impact, formational experiences during students’ time at colleges and universities. As we examine ways to meet the demand for job skills development and personal formation while addressing the current economic and social context, this Fellowship is perfectly timed. The 2016 Fellowship was awarded to student-driven research projects with potential to influence the national conversation around the value of and innovation in higher education, the relationship between higher education and workforce success, and the relationship between higher education and lifelong formation.

Students from across the university applied to participate in the 2016 Deloitte Core Consulting Series workshops. Selected students then engaged in a two-day training and simulated case study around higher education and the workforce. After completing the Consulting Series workshops, students submitted a research plan and applied for the Fellowship which will fully fund their research for the next 9 months.

This year’s Fellowship was awarded to four student research projects. Qinkai Ge, Weiye Deng, and Yu Yu will examine questions of equity and engagement in MOOCs; Andrew Langsner will study the effects of holistic education on post-secondary professional experience; Kevin Barsaloux, Mariam Ghavalyan, and Victoria Rosenboom will explore the efficacy of makerspaces in improving student labor outcomes; and Eric Price and Alex Norwood will analyze the factors that improve postsecondary completion and career placement rates.

The Deloitte Project Team and Georgetown University will provide ongoing assistance during the term of the Fellowship in the form of training sessions around data analytics and visualizations, mentored learning opportunities with subject matter experts and professional liaisons, workshops that focus on research design and qualitative data collection, and Georgetown faculty support.

To learn more about the 2016 Deloitte Foundation Data Analytics Fellowship, please contact Shane Thomas at