Enhancing and Transforming the Core Curriculum

A Multi-year Initiative

The Core Curriculum Committee, in collaboration with Provost Robert Groves and Dean Chris Celenza, invites proposals for innovative approaches to the Georgetown Core, funded by the $20M gift of Red House/The Baker Trust for Transformational Learning.

At a glance, this initiative aims to:

  • direct resources to enlivening the Core Curriculum experience for students.
  • to bring new approaches and ideas to the Core experience and develop models that might be scaled and sustained in the long run and could form the basis for a broader transformation of the Core.
  • to enable individuals or teams (which may include staff and students as well as faculty) to incorporate elements of the Core in courses or projects that emphasize experiential and integrative learning. 
  • To empower faculty who do not currently teach courses in the Core to experiment with compelling curricular elements
  • We value proposals from faculty who do not currently teach courses in Shared Core.

Background & Rationale

More than just a set of required courses, the Georgetown Core provides a pivotal foundation that informs students’ learning across the undergraduate experience. To flourish, students need not only content knowledge from across the liberal arts but also the ability to engage fully with the complex problems and ideas that thread across the Core, through their majors, and beyond. The Core engages students with the world’s most persistent problems, current and perennial, humanistic and scientific, local and global — problems that our students must be prepared to navigate and repair. We envision a Core experience that engages and challenges students through innovative course designs and significant, relevant projects that empower them to think creatively and strategically about the world and their roles in it.

Our vision is rooted in the goals for the Core, which are meant to be both descriptive and aspirational. (Click here to read the full text of the approved Core Curriculum Goals.) The Core goals below emphasize the “how” as much as the “what” of the Core experience dynamically involving multiple fields and disciplines to address complex, current problems:

  • Participate creatively in an intellectual community
    • What might be new and expansive ways to “help expand student’s understandings of the traditions, histories, technologies, and ideas that have shaped the world”?
  • Address complex issues and problems
    • ​What might be new and expansive ways to introduce students to the “methods, contributions, and limitations of various disciplines in addressing complex problems,” or “such scholarly ideals as interdisciplinarity, integration, risk-taking, and collaboration”?
  • Develop a worldview that is both intellectually grounded and personally compelling
    • Are there new ways to help students “explore critically their own beliefs and assumptions and consider new, diverse, and unfamiliar beliefs” by moving between the classroom and other kinds of spaces as part of the Core experience?
  • Engage responsively in the world 
    • Are there new ways, through enhanced Core experiences, to help students begin to “exercise integrative judgments in the face of moral complexities and to take on the responsibilities of global citizenship in a spirit of service and justice”?

The Core experience emphasizes engagement, application, and integration. We seek to expand on the creativity that faculty already bring to the Core by inviting new adaptations of existing courses, new configurations that might make connections across courses, and new courses, including those that integrate elements of the Core. 

Call for Letters of Interest

The Provost, Dean of the College, and the Main Campus Core Curriculum Committee invite initial letters from faculty from all four of the undergraduate schools (College, MSB, NHS, and SFS) who are interested in developing proposals for courses or projects that would enhance and transform the Core experience.

Letters might include creative plans for new course designs, assessments, or active learning strategies that address significant themes and problems that cut across the Core. In particular, we are interested in projects that are focused on any of the following (or in combination):

  • Multidisciplinary or interdisciplinary courses
  • Team taught courses (in accordance with the College’s policy
  • Involvement of students or staff in the design and teaching team
  • Focus on introducing students to inquiry-based processes and research opportunities, known as Core Inquiry Courses

As with traditional first-year seminars, Core Inquiry Courses are introductory and exploratory, open to first and second year students. The purpose of calling out this category is to expand the range of models and methods used to offer such experiences, encouraging variations in length, credits, and structures of Core Inquiry Courses, as well as collaboration among faculty, engagement of advanced students as peer mentors, and the broadening of teaching teams to include staff and practitioners. We invite proposals that expand inquiry models for students through authentic, disciplinary questions and problems through problem-based, independent and/or collaborative research.

Core Inquiry Courses should:

  • promote open-ended inquiry, and the experience of posing and revising inquiry questions
  • emphasize the collaborative and social nature of discovery work
  • offer students experience with uncertainty, iteration, resilience, and intellectual play at the heart of discovery work 
  • help students understand the skills, knowledge, and mindsets associated with inquiry in one or more fields
  • focus on ways of knowing and practices around investigating and situating evidence that belong to one or more disciplines
  • provide students opportunities to communicate their process verbally and through multimodal forms

Proposal Process

The Main Campus Core Curriculum Committee will review all letters of interest, provide feedback, and invite all promising ideas for further supplemental information in either the Exploratory or Developmental categories.

An initial round of projects will be funded for work to begin in Spring or Fall 2020. For projects intending to be implemented in Fall or Spring 2020, the Spring will be used for planning and project development.

Development and Delivery Grants:

Available as grants individual faculty, teams, and departments or programs. These may support faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, or staff time (not buyouts); course enhancements such as field trips or guest speakers; instructional materials or other expenses.

Exploratory Grants:

Smaller, shorter-term grants to support research and conversations that could lead to larger development and delivery grants. These grants will generally be capped at $2500.

Letters of Interest: By December 6, send an email indicating your interest in developing a proposal. Please include a brief description of your idea, your case for why this will enhance and transform the Core, and who might be involved in your project to: core@georgetown.edu.

Supplemental Proposals: Following the submission of letters of interest, proposing faculty may be asked to provide further details on your project idea with guidance from the Main Campus Core Curriculum Committee (MCCCC) and the Core Transformation team.