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Designing the Future(s) initiative welcomes its second class of Future(s) Fellows


On a September Saturday, the Designing the Future(s) initiative welcomed its second class of Future(s) Fellows with a retreat in ethicslab in Healy Hall.

Designing the Future(s) had a range of activities planned for the Fellows over the course of the four-hour retreat. The event began with a comprehensive look at the curricular programs being advanced through the Red House and presentations by Georgetown faculty and staff members involved in the work.

Fellows also had the opportunity to learn from each other and faculty mentors throughout the retreat, as they participated in discussions and design sessions about crucial questions in higher education. Fellows were asked to imagine the world as it will be in 2030, and to create new infrastructures—and dismantle defunct systems— for a university that would produce ethically-minded global citizens. When imagining a world full of new technologies, politics, and financial systems, Fellows explored how the institution of higher education might have to respond to continue to affect the world in a positive way.

The Future(s) Fellows will continue to meet throughout the semester to engage with faculty and guests in more design sessions, aid in the development of curricular projects, and help to reimagine a Georgetown education for the 21st century.

Disability Studies Course Cluster Begins This Fall at Georgetown


This fall, Georgetown University is welcoming its first Disability Studies Course Cluster. Piloted by faculty members – Julia Watts Belser, Rebecca Kukla, and Sara Schotland – this cluster of three related but separate courses will engage students in monthly lectures and interactive workshops with scholars and leading voices in the disability studies field. The cluster is comprised of the following existing courses: ENG 270: Introduction to Disability Studies, PHIL 441.01: Bioethics and the Abnormal Body, and THEO 211: Religion and Disability Studies.


The first workshop of the semester was “Disability, Dignity and Ablution: Rituals of Care,” led by Emory University Professor of English Rosemarie Garland-Thomson. This module challenged students to re-envision notions of dignity and disability –as they are influential on policy and social conversations – and examined religious and secular imagery that regard giving and receiving care as sacred and central acts of being human.


This monthly course cluster offers students an opportunity to extend the usual boundaries of the classroom by synthesizing methods, insights and theoretical questions raised in their courses in the context of  key issues in public life. Moreover, these courses advance Georgetown’s hallmark Jesuit values, by asking students to reflect upon core ethical questions, principles of empathy, a commitment to social justice, and a sincere appreciation for difference and cultural diversity through their academic pursuits.


If you would like more information about this course cluster, please contact Julia Watts Belser at

The Global Future(s) Faculty Studio Welcomes First Faculty Cohort

After launching in the spring, the Global Future(s) Curriculum Studio is announcing its first cohort of faculty-led projects.  In partnership with the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship’s ITEL program, the Designing the Futures(s) initiative will convene this cohort in a series of meetings, workshops, and design sessions tailored to provide participating faculty with opportunities to explore new modes of teaching. These academically rigorous and innovative curricular structures will more deeply and effectively immerse students in creative and critical approaches to complex, interdisciplinary problems and provide rich contexts to bridge theory and practice.

As part of the Studio, the selected projects are on some level

  • intersecting the nexus of global themes, pedagogical innovation, and inventive structural modalities
  • designing with the Magis Measures in mind, and
  • engaging the three elements of a university, as outlined by President DeGioia:
    • the formation of young people,
    • inquiry, or the creation of knowledge,
    • contributing to the public good and the common good.

To begin, faculty participating in the Studio will develop the following curricular projects during Fall 2015.

Urban Studies Studio

Faculty Leads: Laurie King, Sherry Linkon, Brian McCabe

This is a new interdisciplinary minor that uses project- and studio-based learning to help students build skills as researchers, activists, organizers, planners and observers of city life while creating a vehicle for students to create meaningful change in Washington, D.C. and other cities nationally and internationally.

Engaging African Pentecostals Online

Faculty Lead: Alex Thurston

This project proposes to immerse students in high-impact research and digital learning to explore key questions about where African Christianity, and global Christianity more broadly, is from political and cultural perspectives.

Collaborative Environmental Research and Action

Faculty Lead: Dana Luciano

This project will bring a multidisciplinary, humanities approach to bear on contemporary environmental crises in part by asking students to engage representations of environmental catastrophe in literature, arts and media.

Borders: An Online Course that Crosses Boundaries

Faculty Lead: Elizabeth Stephen

This project seeks to develop SFS’s first on-line course offered during the academic year and will take a multidisciplinary approach to explore the historical and modern forces that shape borders and their effect on the economic, social, and political fabric of countries.

Enhancing ITEL and Student- Centered Learning in Cultural Studies

Faculty Lead: Henry Schwarz

Built on the practices of studio-based design, mentored research and project-based learning, this course will ask students to develop independent research projects on the critical analysis of contemporary culture.

Enhancing Language Learning for the Professions with Computer-Mediated Communication and Focused Instruction

Faculty Leads: Joseph Cunningham and Anja Banchoff

This project will implement a newly designed course where students explore topics and themes relevant to professional language and culture in Germany and apply their knowledge routinely through online engagement with German professionals.

“What is Indigeneity?” Creating a Course and a Network

Faculty Leads: Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer and Bette Jacobs

This project will advance a network of scholars at Georgetown who study indigenous peoples and create a flexible, project-based course that engages students in mentored research to enhance their understanding of the multidisciplinary, practical, ethical and human rights synergies that come together under the rubric of indigenous studies.

Issues, Not Disciplines

Faculty Lead: Mark Giordano

This project will develop 1) an interdisciplinary course on biotechnology and 2) explore how the lessons from the experience can apply more broadly to curriculum development related to interdisciplinary issues, rather than disciplines across the university.

Check back in the coming weeks for the new Global Future(s) Curriculum Studio web page, where you’ll be able to learn more about the Studio and each of these projects.

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
Symposium Participant w mic

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.

Symposium Andria w group

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.”
Symposium D Porterfield

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.

Formation by Design Symposium 2015

After the success of the 2014 Formation by Design Symposium, the Designing the Future(s) Initiative is hosting a second gathering of thought partners in learning analytics, student formation, and whole person learning. In an effort to continue imagining and constructing a new age of learner-centered education, Georgetown University faculty and administrators will come together and collaborate with thought leaders, educators, and designers from institutions of higher education across the country and the world. The goals of this year’s symposium include:

  • Engage in conversation to integrate whole person learning with our campus environment through pedagogical design, digital platforms and integrative assessment practices
  • Discuss the use of learner analytics and new records of learning to begin to build an evidence base around whole person learning
  • Form collaborations, networks, and alliances around particular strategies to action that advances our local work more effectively


Presentations, conversations, and workshops at the Symposium, which will run from June 15th – 17th, will focus on the latest methods to empower students in the digital ecosystem, develop new opportunities for faculty to engage in mentored-learning with their students, and design new institutional models that will provide space and opportunity for an experience-oriented education.


Responding to this distinct moment in today’s higher education landscape, the Formation by Design community will ask questions such as:

  • What are the challenges and opportunities to bring formation to the center of higher education? How do we move this margin to the center?
  • How do we use learning analytics to assess holistic growth of each individual student?
  • What are digital environments and associated practices that might foster integration and connectedness?
  • How do we make use of visible learning processes, and recreate critical spaces for seeing student learning?


These and many other questions will shape the conversation of the upcoming symposium. Check back soon to learn outcomes and further details about the event.

Future(s) Project Showcase at TLISI

On Monday, May 18, in partnership with Teaching and Learning Summer Institute (TLISI), Designing the Future(s) of the University showcased six forward-thinking experiments.  On this rainy afternoon, faculty poured into the newly built Healey Student Family Center which was soon buzzing with conversations about the bigger questions framing the work we do within the Designing the Future(s) of the University Initiative. The room was set up as an interactive design studio-space.

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The inner circle of the room featured experiments that have developed in partnership with The Red House. The following projects were included in the showcase:

  1. ImpactTag
  2. Digital Badging
  3. Studio-Collaborative
  4. Writing, Design, & Communication Minor
  5. Challenges in Childhood and Society
  6. BA/Masters in Social Justice Communication

Learn more about each project here.



The outer wave of the room featured a ring of larger questions we explore within the Designing the Future(s) of the University Initiative. Attendees were invited examine the following questions and add their comments to the boards provided at the event:

  • What could be possible if the undergraduate degree were no longer the standard four years?
  • What does it look like to create knowledge and serve the common good in an integrative curriculum?
  • If we got rid of majors, minors and certificates, what would take their place?
  • What would it take to have more credit-bearing experiential learning opportunities as part of a transformative education?
  • What would be possible if we moved beyond the “one-size-fits-all “semester?


TLISI logo

Responses were recorded and the Designing the Future(s) of the University Team is excited to explore the ideas generated during the data capture.

Designing the Future(s) to Sponsor Project Showcase at Upcoming Summer Institute

TLISI logo

Designing the Future(s) is proud to announce its sponsorship of a Future(s) Project Showcase at this year’s Teaching, Learning & Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI). On Monday, May 18th, representatives from five Future(s) projects will present their work to Georgetown faculty who are attending the Institute. Throughout the project showcase, faculty are also invited to join Future(s) in exploring the driving questions of its work. For instance, what would it take to have more credit-bearing experiences as part of a transformative education? What if, instead of multiple majors, minors and certificates, students could customize and credential a distinctive pathway? What would be possible if we made use of the whole year calendar?

The following projects will be featured at the Future(s) Project Showcase:

  • BA/Masters in Social Justice Communication – Randall Amster, Denise Keyes, Amy Kovac-Ashley, Amanda Munroe, Emily Roper
  • Challenges in Childhood and Society – Bruno Anthony, Rachel Barr, Matthew Biel, Phyllis Magrab, Ken Tercyak
  • iTag initiative – Sarah Stiles, Emma Thompson
  • Studio Collaborative – Arjun Dhillon, Maggie Little, Matt Pavesich, Francis Slakey
  • Writing, Design and Communications Minor – Evan Barba, Maggie Debelius, Sherry Linkon, JR Osborn, Matt Pavesich
  • Digital Badging- Erika Cohen-Derr, Michael Schaub

Hosted by Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS), TLISI offers Georgetown faculty workshops and seminars to enhance teaching in the classroom. This year, CNDLS also invites Georgetown faculty to participate in experimental Productive Open Design Spaces (PODS) centered on pedagogical challenges. If you are a Georgetown faculty member interested in attending TLISI, please register here.