Second Formation by Design Symposium Explored Placing Whole Person at Center of Learning
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?
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
Chad Anderson and Alexandra McCarthy also contributed to this post.