On September 29-30, Victor Saad, founder of the Experience Institute, visited Georgetown to share his perspective on experiential learning.
Mr. Saad began his visit with a design session for Vice Provost Randy Bass’s course, “Signature Semesters,” challenging students to take ‘leaps’ that emerge from the intersection of their aspirations, inspirations, and assets. Later, he led another design session for Georgetown alumni, asking participants to identify their most valuable learning moments over a lifetime and to imagine how they might use those moments to shape their futures. Mr. Saad brought his visit to a close with a final design session for a diverse collection of students, faculty and staff, where attendees exchanged ideas of how to integrate experiential learning into the formal curriculum, and to measure and account for it as well.
Throughout his visit, Mr. Saad shared his reflections on the founding of the Experience Institute, a center for experiential learning that took shape following a year-long, globally-focused, self-guided master’s program he calls “The Leap Year Project.”
Victor Saad’s visit marked the first event of this year’s Red House Speaker Series, which brings diverse experts—such as Rick Vaz, Gartner Campbell and Nadia Roumani—to the Red House to share their perspective on new approaches to education with our community. Learn more about the other speakers who have visited here.
A general education should not give students a roadmap to a specific end goal; rather, it should provide them with the tools to navigate in the direction of their choosing, said Gardner Campbell to Georgetown faculty in April as a part of the Designing the Future(s) initiative’s Red House Speakers Series.
Dr. Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success at Virginia Commonwealth University, told faculty that an effective general education curriculum provides a framework to foster a mindset where students “see connectedness” in the world around them. In his remarks, he discussed that creativity emerges when we teach students to discover and investigate this connectedness.
He also stressed that, while this understanding can come about in many contexts, universities are best equipped to support this type of formational growth in students. He reiterated that this deep, “whole-person” learning cannot emerge just from direct instruction, nor is it fully supported in co-curricular activities. At a university, he argued, students can take calculated risks and learn from them in the support of mentors and peers.
As Vice Provost at VCU, Dr. Campbell is responsible for efforts at VCU to enhance the quality of teaching and learning throughout the university, the first-year student experience, and advancing learning innovation and the strategic use of digital technologies. He also leads the university’s strategic vision for learning innovation, including the Alt Lab and Online@VCU initiatives as well as the highly successful VCU University College.
From February 26th – 28th, the Designing the Future(s) Initiative and the Beeck Center sponsored a visit with social entrepreneur and researcher Nadia Roumani. A lecturer of design at Stanford University’s d.school and the Walter and Esther Hewlett Fellow at Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Roumani spent her visit to Georgetown meeting with members of the university’s design community. She discussed with faculty how design thinking can inform current and developing Future(s) projects and engaged with the inaugural class of the Board of Regents Future(s) Fellows. During her conversations with Georgetown faculty members, Roumani emphasized that interdisciplinarity and empathy were crucial foundational steps to effective design solutions, and should be integral in the teaching of design to students. Roumani said that empathy—whether gained through immersion or ethnography—allows a designer to “sit with the messiness” of a problem and better understand a user’s position in a system or landscape, their motivations for navigating it, and the challenges that sparked the need for the new or redesigned product, service, or system.
Roumani has extensive experience as a community organizer, economist, development specialist and social entrepreneur. She served as a d.school Fellow from 2012-2013, where she co-developed the foundational course “Design Thinking Bootcamp: Experiences in Innovation and Design.”
Chad Anderson and Christina Ferguson contributed to this post.