Just Communities courses were launched in the Fall 2020 semester in response to the cascade of tragedies and injustices that have rocked our national conscience, leading us to look inward for answers and outward for action and solutions. These 1-credit courses provide students the opportunity to explore areas (skillsets and mindsets) not normally offered in the traditional Core Curriculum, in low-pressure and relaxed settings. These courses are intended to be complementary to any schedule, providing students unique ways into insistent and complex issues. The courses are organized into three categories – Ways of Knowing, Ways of Doing, and Ways of Being – which all share the following goals to:
Just Communities courses aim to help students connect knowledge and intellectual growth with personal development while encouraging students to reflect on wherever they are in their Georgetown education at the moment and where they are headed.
IDST 102 — Learn about Georgetown’s distinctive place in Catholic higher education and discover how key values (Community in Diversity, Contemplation in Action, Faith that Does Justice, and Care for Our Common Home) invite us to sharpen our moral vision and character for our own well-being and the world’s. Together, we will examine our human and ecological interdependence as an overlapping religious and secular basis for these values and learn from the past to shape our future. In addition to short academic readings, students will read stories and poems, watch movies and engage with guest lectures in order to reflect on and imagine how they can foster and honor their values. Come ready to discuss what we as a community do well and what we can do better.
Instructor: Kerry Danner
IDST 104 — “Design Justice” is a 1-credit course offered by the Design faculty of Georgetown University’s Ethics Lab. Together we’ll explore how norms and values are present in seemingly value-neutral products and systems, and introduce Design Justice principles for reimagining more equitable alternatives. This course follows a “virtual studio” model, in which core content and assignments are shared online for asynchronous engagement, supplemented with synchronous online sessions for discussion and small-group exercises. Students will gain experience working with visual design techniques and be introduced to the Design Justice framework, which is adaptable to collaborative work in any discipline.
Instructor: Healey / Luken
IDST 105 — As Nikole Hannah-Jones has recently argued, for true justice and equality to be achieved, Americans must account for the centrality of slavery to the development of America and must address what the U.S. owes Black Americans. Yet, many White Americans have resisted such accounting, preferring to erase histories and to forget the structuring legacies of slavery as an American institution. At Georgetown, our campus community has often forgotten the histories of Jesuit slaveholding and the sale of 272 people in 1838 by the Jesuits of Maryland. Over the past half-decade, students, faculty, alumni, and the Descendants of the GU272 have sought to recover these histories, to remember the people who were enslaved and sold by the Jesuits, and to respond to these legacies by working together to achieve justice in the present and for the future. In this class, we will review and engage with this work. We will engage different ways of exploring and understanding the histories and different ways of responding to the legacies of Slavery in America, with special interest in Georgetown’s own history of Jesuit slaveholding. We will engage with guests including faculty, members of the GU272 Descendant Community, and Georgetown student researchers, artists, and activists. We will consider projects including the Georgetown Slavery Archive, the Georgetown Memory Project, the Names Project (an effort to memorialize the 66 enslaved people who were buried on Georgetown’s campus), two creative projects of radical imagination undertaken by descendants Meli Colomb and Jessica Tilson, and the 2019 Georgetown Student Referendum in which a majority of undergraduates approved a student fee as an effort at reparations for Georgetown’s involvement with slavery. Students will have opportunities to practice research methods and to develop ideas for creative projects as a radical response to the persistent legacies of Slavery.
IDST 107 — BEARING WITNESS: THE LEGACY OF JAN KARSKI TODAY. Outside of Georgetown’s White-Gravenor Hall sits an iconic commemorative bench and statue honoring Holocaust witness, Polish World War II hero, spy and diplomat, Jan Karski, one of the most influential and legendary Professors ever to teach at Georgetown University. This course explores Karski’s story and its contemporary resonance, centering around the filmed version of Remember This: The Lesson of Jan Karski, a celebrated original theatrical production created by The Laboratory for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown and starring Oscar-Nominated actor David Strathairn, who will participate as a guest in the course (in dialogue with Professor Derek Goldman who co-authored and directed the production). Karski’s remarkable legacy speaks to the importance of moral courage; of bearing witness to history; of respect for others, especially those who are different; of the responsibility to question; and of the role of the individual in speaking out, even when the message is not “convenient.” Using Karski’s life and teachings as inspiration, we will examine our own relationship to the current historical moment, how individuals may bear witness to history and, following Karski’s example, “shake the conscience of the world.” The course will make use of a dynamic new experiential web-based platform that will include not only the filmed theatrical production, but archival clips and interviews with extraordinary leaders who will engage Karski’s legacy today.
Instructor: Goldman / Njaka
IDST 109 — This course addresses the intersecting crises of Covid-19, Economic Downturn, Health Disparities, and Racism. Beginning with an historical approach, we will look at how diagnosis and sociopolitical power relations have interacted in the last 400 years, pathologizing race and gender, and rationalizing colonialism and the institution of slavery. We look to these histories to understand how health inequities have been produced and perpetuated in concert with forces that produce racism, poverty, and gendered inequities. We will then engage in implications for social responsibility and human health in our communities in the present, through applied activities and guest speakers, fostering collaborative thinking towards change. This course will involve a blend of historical and scholarly writings, memoir and journalistic writings, as well as literature and art as we seek to trouble the narratives that have covered over and perpetuated histories of violence and inequity that have contributed to our current crises.
IDST 111 — Entrepreneurial Thought and Action for the Common Good. Learning to think and act like an entrepreneur could be the most valuable life skill you acquire in your time at Georgetown, even if you never want to start a business. Entrepreneurship is one of the world’s most powerful forces for positive change, yet it is often misunderstood. This course will help students to broaden their view of entrepreneurship beyond popular Shark Tank or Silicon Valley mythology and to recognize how entrepreneurial thought and action are relevant and accessible to EVERYONE – no matter what major or career path you choose. In a world of ever-increasing disruption, change, and uncertainty, we will explore ways that entrepreneurial leaders can use creativity and innovation to solve important problems, and we will introduce students to resources that will help them become more entrepreneurial in their chosen field.
IDST 120 — This course explores the kinds of care made possible through disability justice-informed ways of knowing and being, particularly disability justice’s commitment to radical access. It examines anti-racist disabled activism and organizing, including in the time of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter movement, to provide a blueprint for creating structures of care to address the needs of Georgetown students and their communities. It will focus on mental health, collective trauma, student experiences, and access-centered pedagogy, and will draw on wisdom and offerings from queer and trans disabled people of color.
UNXD 151 —
Instructor: Milner Gillers
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UNXD 364 — Environmental degradation. Gender inequality. Toxic political division. The list of challenges facing society can often seem endless, overwhelming and without solutions. What can one person do to make an impact on the world? Dr. Jane Goodall, the international environmental icon who is literally the woman who redefined our notion of man through her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees, thinks deeply about these questions. She responds with a simple, yet provocative philosophy that has become the signature of her work: the need to have reasons for hope and then to act upon them. Dr. Goodall has five reasons: the determination of young people, the resilience of nature, the human brain, the indomitable human spirit and the power of social media (her latest). As she reminds us, “the greatest danger to our planet is that we lose hope. Because, if we have no hope, we give up and stop trying to do our bit to make a difference.” Using her book, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, as a guide, students will explore Dr. Goodall’s framework and be challenged to interact with tangible examples in their everyday lives that illuminate each reason. They will then reflect deeply on their own values to create their personal reasons for hope, along with a plan for how to activate them as they proceed to the next stage of their life’s journey. Along the way, students will also meet change makers leading with a hope mindset while they apply lessons from Dr. Goodall’s remarkable life story, the instructor’s personal experience working for her, and even the famous chimpanzees themselves.
UNXD 364 —
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UNXD 365 — College is often thought of as crucial years when a person experiences heightened awareness of self and develops enduring relationships which transform the manner in which they engage their social contexts. This transformative experience coincides with the developmental period of emerging adulthood in which the person is cognitively, affectively, and behaviorally primed to capitalize on the diverse experiences afforded by most residential colleges and universities. This expectation is woven into Georgetown University’s mission and character as a Jesuit institution which emphasizes critical reflection, caring for and educating the whole person, and sustained dialogue within a diverse campus community. Yet, individual student experiences can differ significantly from each other depending on their unique identity statuses and social affiliations. This course takes a social and developmental psychology perspective, encouraging students to reflect, explore, and discuss how key aspects of their identity have evolved during their time at Georgetown. Various identity theories will be utilized to explore and stimulate discussion regarding race, ethnicity, class, socio-economic status, religion, spirituality, gender and sexual identity. There will be a particular focus on fostering insight in how these aspects of identity have influenced the selection and quality of interpersonal relationships in college. Students will use salient identity statuses as a lens to enhance understanding of themselves in relation to others and their experiences at Georgetown. Finally, students will project into the immediate future potential opportunities and challenges for intra- and interpersonal growth within and between various identity statuses, as they transition into the next phase of their lives.
UNXD 410 — This seminar will provide students the opportunity to explore the core beliefs that guide their daily lives, and how their backgrounds and life experiences influenced and shaped the beliefs they hold today. Utilizing Jesuit values as our foundation, this course will examine students’ formation process throughout their Georgetown career within the context of their daily lives. Students will be challenged to contemplate “Where They Are From,” connecting this journey to the larger construct of power and privilege. The course will conclude with students (re)developing “This I Believe,” in order to articulate to themselves and other persons the core of who they and who they aspire to be.
UNXD 409 — Georgetown’s Core Curriculum asks all students to wrestle with important existential questions: How did we come into being? Do our lives have purpose? What happens to us when we die? How do we create an ethical framework for decision-making? How do we create a life imbued with meaning and purpose? Regardless of our personal religious affiliations, how we respond to these questions shapes the contours of our lives – our sense of purpose, our identity, our personal relationships, and our individual ethos. This course offers an opportunity to reflect upon these questions in ways that both draws upon and challenges the Jesuit education under which it is taught. Students of all faiths (and no faith) are invited to participate in this conversation about whether it’s possible to create a good life without believing in an afterlife.
UNXD 190 — Students learn how to share their story verbally, in writing, and how this connects to vocational options and career strategies such as writing resumes, interviewing, and networking. This course prepares students for life after Georgetown including pathways leading to employment, graduate school, fellowships, or service. *Can take asynchronously with permission of dean if student has another class time conflict.
IDST 112 — By all accounts these are among the most challenging times to be a student, much less a new student. This course will focus on aspects of personal well-being and flourishing that are basic to human health. It provides an overview of essential topics and opportunities to apply principles of well-being to your life. Physical, social, and emotional health along with ways to maintain optimal health while living in community with others are central to the course. The Covid-19 crisis paired with systemic racial violence shed a bright light on various social inequalities that we will focus on as vital components of community and identity well-being.
Instructor: Stiles / Day
Goldman / Brumberg / Njaka
In an era of intense ideological, social, and political polarization, how can we learn not merely to converse, but also to listen and respect one another? How can we articulate and share our deepest concerns, hopes, fears, and dreams with others who hold very different perspectives on politics, community, economics, or faith? Since 2018, the In Your Shoes project has been a way to move beyond the political divide and by illuminating the hopes, fears, and dreams that animate the daily lives of students.
Carreon / Lewis
In a multicultural society, discussions about issues of racial and ethnic conflict and community are needed to facilitate understanding among different racial/ethnic and other social/cultural groups. In this intergroup dialogue course, students will participate in semi-structured meetings across racial identity groups. Students will discuss relevant reading material and will explore group experiences in various social and institutional contexts. Participants will examine narratives and historical, psychological, and sociological materials to help explore who we are, what we know and understand about each other, and how race and racism impacts our lives and relationships. The goal is to create a setting in which students engage in open and constructive dialogue, learning, and exploration concerning issues of intergroup relations, conflict, and community.
Ready for a new view? Power of Dialogue: Deconstructing the Rural-Urban Divide (POD) is a 5-week immersive dialogue experience that brings together students from Georgetown University, Radford University, Columbia University, and Indiana University of Pennsylvania to 1) build dialogue skills needed for navigating contentious issues, and 2) develop the cultural dexterity students need to serve as a bridge between rural and urban communities. Through weekly evening dialogue sessions, interactive exercises, 1-on-1 conversations, and videos, students will increase their self-awareness and ability to manage differences in a range of settings.
Healey / Luken
“Design Justice” is a 1-credit course offered by the Design faculty of Georgetown University’s Ethics Lab. Together we’ll explore how norms and values are present in seemingly value-neutral products and systems, and introduce Design approaches for reimagining more equitable alternatives. This course follows a “virtual studio” model, in which core content and exercises are shared online for asynchronous engagement, supplemented with synchronous online sessions for discussion and small-group critiques focused on developing students’ craft. Students will gain experience working with visual design techniques and be introduced to the Design Justice framework, which is adaptable to collaborative work in any discipline.
Reid / Gilad
Learning to think and act like an entrepreneur could be the most valuable life skill you acquire in your time at Georgetown, even if you never want to start a business. Entrepreneurship is one of the world’s most powerful forces for positive change, yet it is often misunderstood. This course will help students to broaden their view of entrepreneurship beyond popular Shark Tank or Silicon Valley mythology and to recognize how entrepreneurial thought and action are relevant and accessible to EVERYONE – no matter what major or career path you choose. In a world of ever-increasing disruption, change, and uncertainty, we will explore ways that entrepreneurial leaders can use creativity and innovation to solve important problems, and we will introduce students to resources that will help them become more entrepreneurial in their chosen field.
This course will expose students to the biopsychosocial theory and application of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR), and its relationship to young adult physical health and social/emotional well-being. MBSR (sometimes termed ‘meditation’) is a mind-body practice. Although there are many types of MBSR, most can be traced back to ancient religious and spiritual traditions. MBSR practitioners tout the benefits of becoming conscious of their own thoughts, feelings, and sensations and observe these states in a nonjudgmental way. Modern medicine has rediscovered the power of MBSR to heal both the body and mind. This has raised interesting questions about the mechanisms of action of MBSR (how and why it works), and wonderment about its utility (where it can be applied)? The course explores what is known about the neurobiological effects of MBSR on the brain, especially areas related to attention and memory, sensory processing, and stress and emotions, and downstream effects on physical functions.
Maddox / Harris
What would happen if leaders prayed, meditated or sat in contemplation before making a decision? Most leaders spend years taking classes or reading books on how to assemble the dream team, how to inspire others toward a common mission or how to make tough decisions. But rarely do leaders talk about the lessons that spirituality played in getting them where they are today. This course will explore aspects of leadership including ways in which you can grow and develop as leaders in the world. Additionally, students of all religious backgrounds, or those with none at all, will define what spirituality means to them and how they can lead themselves and others from an open heart.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky famously wrote that “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.” This course will prepare a select group of Georgetown seniors for life after graduation by exposing them to this forgotten and ignored element of our humanity.
This course examines our increasingly interconnected – yet stubbornly fragmented and unequal – world, and asks how we, as global citizens, might conscientiously choose to live and act in it. Drawing on the fields of comparative political and economic development, we will explore the cross-national patterns of behavior by states and private actors that are shaping outcomes in education, growth, social inclusion, and political participation.
Riley / Hayes / Barth
Utilizing Jesuit values as our foundation, this course will examine students’ identity formation process throughout their Georgetown career within the context of their daily lives. This seminar will provide students the opportunity to explore the core beliefs that guide their daily lives, and how their backgrounds and life experiences influenced and shaped the beliefs they hold today.
Headlines are dominated not simply with bad news, but potentially catastrophic news. It is not mere hyperbole to note that you will spend your adult lives confronting global challenges and tragedies whose scale goes well beyond that of former ages—from environmental degradation to inequality and poverty to mass migration to technological revolutions and labor disruptions. This creates a uniquely poignant existential burden. The key question this course will examine is: Given this context, how do we utilize our reason and other capacities to pursue both the good and the good life? How do we live well in a dark time?
This course will consist of 7 sessions on questions that will most probably arise as Georgetown Seniors transition from their student life to a working life and beyond. We will reflect on your education at Georgetown and chart a possible courses to apply it for the rest of your life. The problems we discuss have no permanent solutions; people have been wrestling with them from time immemorial. Life challenges you to create answers to new situations, mostly new to you, until it ends. We will explore the idea of a life of learning, based on your Georgetown education, as a path to your most successful and rewarding life.
Through a series of negotiation exercises, lectures, videos and class discussions, students will come to understand negotiation theory and practice negotiation skills that will be useful for a lifetime. Simulation exercises employ hypothetical situations in which students agree on the various terms of a new job, negotiate the terms of an apartment lease, and buy/sell a house, among others. Simulations give students an opportunity to develop and try their negotiating skills in a safe environment with continuing feedback from the professor and their classmates.
How can we think and innovate creatively in professional spaces? How can creativity be an asset in our personal and professional lives beyond college? This course will offer seniors organizational plans for maintenance, for growth, for using creative gift(s) for creative expression and for creative problem solving.
This is a course in applied ethics or practical ethics, one that does not fall into one of the traditional academic disciplines, but rather should appeal to students with various academic majors. It will help prepare you to deal more successfully with some of the kinds of ethical challenges you might face in your career. It will do so by using case studies of real people who have been confronted with ethical challenges, and by introducing you to various concepts and frameworks for moral reasoning and ethical decision-making.
Using her book, Reason for Hope: A Spiritual Journey, as a guide, students will explore Dr. Goodall’s framework and be challenged to interact with tangible examples in their everyday lives that illuminate each reason. They will then reflect deeply on their own values to create their personal reasons for hope, along with a plan for how to activate them as they proceed to the next stage of their life’s journey.
How do our identities impact how we relate to others? How do variables such as race, class, religion, and gender affect our interpersonal relationships not only at Georgetown? How might a better understanding of these identities allow for intra- and interpersonal growth in this time of transition from college to beyond?
This course will first examine the radical conception of human freedom and responsibility articulated by Existentialist writers of the 20th century in response to the crisis of the two World Wars. It then goes on to propose a way of understanding cultural evolution that can help us understand the contemporary dynamics of change and conflict in a way that is both practically realistic and at the same time still consistent with a personal commitment to the dignity of human freedom and the responsibility imposes for one’s own identity as a human being.
To what degree do we have agency in our lives? Is it possible to direct our lives to thrive in our post graduate lives? Within the last ten years researchers have discovered game changing information about how the body and mind function. With this knowledge we can steer ourselves to flourishing.
This bridge course aims to provide students with up to date research on human flourishing that they might effectively manage their own lives so as to thrive in their postgraduate lives. Students learn they have agency in directing the trajectory of their lives through self care, discernment, and relationships.
Through a critical examination of constructs such as Chaos Theory of Careers (Pryor & Bright) and Self-Authorship (Baxter Magolda), students will explore frameworks to guide their reflection process. Readings, written assignments, group discussion among students, and conversations with participating alumni will facilitate the development of stories related to beliefs about life and work, values, strengths, and relationships with others. Students will create and present a living project that can be refined in the years to come.
You came to Georgetown because you were interested in a career in public policy. And as you’re nearing graduation, you still aren’t quite sure what holding a job in the Executive Branch, on Capitol Hill, or in the non-profit space is actually like, how to get one, and whether you’d even enjoy it. For students who have an interest in pursuing public policy careers, this course would help you understand the architecture of potential jobs and what those jobs entail. A hard look at what the job is really like – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
UNXD 190 (34668)
Brown / Northington / Moesel / Hurley
This section of UNXD 190 will focus on the importance of showing up, fully, as you. Taught by Jaime Brown, a wellness advocate and champion of DEAI, topics will revolve around questioning notions of professionalism, codeswitching, who has access to “seats at the table”, the power of your network, and aligning how you show up in your search and career. Can take asynchronously with permission of dean if student has another class time conflict.