How can we innovate for a 21st century education in a way that alleviates pressure on our faculty? Georgetown’s growth as a world-class university increases pressure on faculty to publish research, win grants, and cultivate a public intellectual presence – all while teaching two courses each semester and guiding advisees and students through academic life. These responsibilities have pushed faculty to spread time thinly between research programs and student needs. In order to maintain its long-standing educational mission and its elite research status, Georgetown must think creatively about keeping faculty central to learning in an increasingly competitive environment.
Balancing Faculty Workload
Georgetown is committed to facilitating high-quality research and teaching experiences for faculty. These two priorities are often in conflict with one another, as faculty struggle to find a balance between creating meaningful experiences for their students and pursuing their research interests.
Future(s) pilots help faculty balance their academic commitments by creating alternatives to the traditional 3-credit, 15-week semester. The growth of 1-credit modules on campus, such as those in our Challenges in Childhood and Society cluster, allows faculty to pursue new teaching interests for a small portion of the semester while maintaining time for research.
Georgetown is creating new curricular models that provide more flexibility for faculty in navigating their required teaching load. A number of departments have piloted new structures for required major or core curriculum classes to allow faculty more freedom in what they teach. Projects like Core Pathways allow faculty to uniquely teach their specialties while still contributing to their department’s core curriculum offerings.
Several departments are also formulating new structures to allow faculty to receive credit for their mentorship efforts. In the REBL Psychology program, for example, students can work in an on-campus lab for up to six elective credits during the course of their undergraduate career. This allows faculty to spend more time in the lab with their students and receive credit for their research work.
Recognizing and Measuring Effort
The current metrics by which we measure teaching effort fail to accurately capture the different variables that make some courses more difficult to teach than others. Georgetown is examining new ways to count time-intensive faculty activities, such as mentored research and lab work, proportionally to their effort.