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The Weakness of Strong Institutions

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There are few institutions in the United States that are experiencing increasing public trust over the past few years. Trust in government institutions seems unusually low.

This is a post about the higher education infrastructure of the United States. This infrastructure consists of a variegated ecology of educational and research institutions. It includes public community colleges, state and regional 4-year colleges, small private liberal arts colleges, state land-grant universities and other large state research universities, private research universities, the national laboratories, and quasi-independent research institutes. The vast majority of higher education students attend state universities; for decades, those schools have offered relatively affordable means to social mobility in the US.

In the 20th century, the large state research universities provided many of the cutting-edge discoveries in the natural and social sciences, a good deal of which found its way into applications in various pieces of the economy. They pushed forward new scholarship in the humanities and contributed to the societal culture, revolutionizing how we think about ourselves.

In the sciences, they offered a key magnet to attract the best minds throughout the world for advanced education. Many of the international students chose to stay in the US and pursue their careers, offering decades of enrichment to the country. Indeed, this pattern was doubly valuable because it coincided with a longstanding weakness of science education in K-12 schools. Without the in-migration of scientific talent, too few US residents were pursuing such higher education to permit the advanced developments we as a country now enjoy. The strength of these institutions of higher education and the ecology of different types of institutions were unparalleled in the world.

For the past few years we have been witnessing the dismantling of this ecology. Those institutions that were once so strong are now threatened. As state legislatures have annually cut tax-based support for these institutions, the schools have increased their tuition prices to replace tax sources. The increased tuition costs then have become the focus of criticism. It seems a vicious cycle.

Reflecting on these events, it is startling how quickly this destruction of government-supported higher education is occurring. How could these institutions so quickly be gutted? How could institutions seemingly so strong be manifesting such weakness? Clearly, there seems to be a breakdown in shared values. Their strength largely rested on a shared norm – that support for education was the gift of one generation to the next, both benefiting individuals but also building a strong nation. Hence, a sense of civic duty underlay this widespread support.

Did lost trust in government lead to reduced support for state-funded higher education? Or, are these independent but co-incidental events? Did the perceived lack of shared benefits lead to large sets of taxpayers critiquing the “eliteness” of higher education? Did universities forget their role in service to the society in return for financial support from the public? Does the lack of support come merely from not knowing about the earnings’ gains among college graduates? Has the growing wealth inequality (perhaps, itself connected to access to higher education) fed beliefs that these institutions are not relevant to the majority of those suffering relative deprivation?

As we see other nations increase their support for higher education and begin to enjoy the societal advancement empowered by such support, it’s doubly sad to see our country willfully diminish the strength of state-supported colleges and universities.

It’s a moment when those who potentially benefit from access to higher education need to express their support. The society that our young will inherit will be stronger with a well-educated populace. It’s a moment when those inside higher education institutions need to remember that they exist solely through the support of others; in some sense, their right to exist depends on consistent demand for their services. It’s also time when those outside these institutions need to communicate their fundamental worth to the strength of a country.

Keeping One’s Eye on the Product, Not the Process

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In the latter part of the 20th century, automobile manufacturers began to change how they made cars. Instead of sequence of design phases, followed by engineering phases, followed by marketing phases, they began to realize great gains in combining those disparate pieces. Engineers and designers met directly with potential consumers, who themselves were examining prototypes of new automobiles. The engineer, whose prior job might have been creating the production process for a door handle, suddenly was confronted with a real client who used the handle in ways completely unanticipated by the engineer. The designer, whose prior job was creating the most aesthetically pleasing door handle, suddenly was confronted with the tradeoff of a consumer who might not share values with the designer and an engineer who taught them about production costs. In retrospect, this reorganization seems to have borne benefits. The companies focused more on the product than the process of creating the product.

I recently learned about transformations among companies that had achieved their initial reputation as radio media units. Their job was the production of radio programs. The programs were designed to be listened to serially, at one set period of time, for a length of time that was prespecified. The program designers assumed that the material was to be heard once and only once by each listener. Enter the digital world. In that world, users wanted the freedom to listen to parts of content, at a time of their own choosing, for a length of time that they could control, in an order that they found attractive, for as many re-listenings as they wanted. It forced, I was told, a gradual rethinking of the business. Instead of a radio business, organizations refocused themselves as story-tellers, information disseminators, and multimedia archives of event documentation. In short, the new technology forced new attention on the product (stories, information) not on the process of producing the product (formerly radio programs, now digitizable information delivered in many ways beyond just the aural).

It’s interesting to apply this way of thinking to universities.

We have three “products.” First, we produce graduates, “refined” versions of persons who complete programs successfully. Ideally, those persons have become more sophisticated in their knowledge, to the betterment of their own prospects, but hopefully also as vehicles to build a better world. Second, universities produce research results, sometimes based on discoveries of previously unknown features of the world, sometimes surprisingly new interpretations of “old” knowledge, and sometimes new creations that evoke new ways of thinking about the world. Third, universities, at their best, enhance the quality of life of their communities or the larger society. These benefits arise from the delivery of consultation to apply knowledge directly in service to the world.

Consistent with the observations above about a “product” perspective, universities need to keep our focus on their outcomes. Inside a university, there are unending demands for attention to courses, programs, student services, classroom quality, space allocation, and all the process steps of a university. However, such attention is misplaced if we ignore how the individual processes contribute to the three most important products of the university. We do that best, I think, when we mimic the trio of the designer, engineer, and customer examining a future auto prototype. Our version of that is having administrators, faculty, students, alumni, and employers all involved in providing input to shaping the future of what the university produces. With that, we can be smarter at designing how to make that happen. In short, maintaining a relentless focus on outcomes helps us prioritize processes. Important to remember; easy to forget in the day-to-day.

Working Together

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About a year ago I posted a note with concerns about the difficulty of engaging people different from ourselves in real dialogue.

As the events of the year have unfolded, such concerns have only grown. We hear of political labels becoming a key determinant of social interaction. We see more shouting across viewpoints on immigration, on racial/ethnic/cultural differences, and on socioeconomic inequalities. Much discussion appears to be structured to present only two opposing viewpoints rather than a myriad of opinions.

True dialogue requires careful listening. Listening requires a modicum of respect for others, regardless of their viewpoint. The reiteration and refinement of the Georgetown commitment to free speech asserts that the university needs to be a place where alternative viewpoints must be presented. Such an environment is one of the essential conditions for learning and knowledge refinement. The commitment is heavily driven by a rational approach, despite the fact that much of what we see in the world today is driven by an emotional approach. Somehow, we need to learn how to navigate between cognition and emotion in new ways these days.

In that regard, I continue to read more and more about “just plain folks” taking initiative to achieve such goals. A recent one was Tom Friedman’s column describing a community pushing for its own revival. There, a group of committed residents, none of them elected officials, learned they all shared concerns about the demise of the town center, following the departure of a large employer. The shared concerns existed side-by-side with opposing viewpoints on other issues. Friday meetings in one person’s house became the locus to identify the shared concerns and galvanize energy to take action. They themselves took responsibility for identifying and implementing solutions. They apparently ruled out blaming “the other guy.”

This piece is one of many pointing out that at the local community level, there may be a new spirit of community-building and working together – a movement that you can’t easily see focusing solely on the national scene. Some assert a causal connection. The chaos at the global and national level is itself the impetus to coming together at the local level. People, never before socially active, are becoming so. Wouldn’t it be ironic if we came out of this period with stronger communities that discovered ways to engage differences, despite the fact that there was no modeling of this behavior at the national level?

The fascinating, and challenging, aspect of these stories is that they force each of us to think about what we ourselves are doing, to reach out and engage the other. What am I doing to find common ground with those who don’t look like me, don’t inhabit my usual spaces, don’t share many of my interests, but who are part of the larger community I inhabit? That’s an observation a little tougher than observing with admiring eyes the work of others who are coming together in common purpose.

A Deep Dive into the Intellectual Life

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From time to time, the faculty of multiple schools identify a committee of their members to reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of the learning environment at Georgetown. Their focus is the intellectual formation of students and the faculty environment that facilitates that formation. Such “Intellectual Life” reports were completed in 1997 and 2007.

In May, 2018, a new report of an Intellectual Life Committee was delivered after review by various bodies, representing Georgetown College, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, School of Foreign Service, McDonough School of Business, and the McCourt School of Public Policy. The committee dedicated hours and hours of work on the task and performed a real service to the university. We owe them our thanks.1

The report is filled with sophisticated commentary on the role of academic advising in undergraduate and graduate education, the nature of interdisciplinary scholarship in the future of Georgetown, evaluation of new developments of pedagogy, grading protocols, the synergies among undergraduate and graduate education, and a host of other issues. There are 51 recommendations for ways that Georgetown can improve its performance. Some of these are already being implemented. Some can easily be implemented; some require more clarification and review by stakeholders.

There are many important observations in the report deserving of their own blog treatment over the coming months. This post concerns the report’s evaluation of the research experiences of students. The committee forwards the recommendation that each undergraduate have a first-year experience in a seminar that introduces them to the process of original inquiry. The committee sees the first-year seminar structure helping the student move away from a notion that their job is merely to receive the information from faculty and course materials, later to be regurgitated in examinations. Instead, to prepare students for a deeper intellectual development in their studies, original research experiences are a key tool. Further, the committee finds strong support among students for access to research experiences. In a set of focus groups run by the committee, students expressed the desire to do “real” research and original scholarship, not just exercises that mimic research as part of a structured course.

Such experiences are not merely assembling research and scholarship results from Google searches and JSTOR, but rather more original inquiries. This usually means that the student needs to have a real role in defining the question to be studied, to be guided by a mentor on methods of approaching the question, and to have ongoing interaction with senior mentors as the project proceeds. Finally, a key feature is the production of the final product, designed to answer the research question. Oral, written, and other media of communication should all be part of the research experience.

Why is this important? First, the first year should be organized to shape the student’s perspective on learning. Original inquiry early permits more sophisticated and more challenging course experiences later.

Second, one of the key drivers for post-graduation satisfaction with one’s higher education is joint work with faculty, in which an intellectual focus is the meat of the relationship. Original scholarship is the most efficient route to those benefits. The moments of personal interaction between students and faculty around a piece of scholarship are the most precious at a university. The report argues to organize our curriculum to enhance those moments.

Third, original inquiry in a new knowledge domain will be exercised countless times during the long working lives of our graduates, as they navigate new career lines. Students are seeking such experiences in their curricula, to help them prepare for their lives. We know how to do this well. We should do so.


Paul Roepe (chair), Bernie Cook, Bryce Huebner, Amy Liu, Prashant Malaviya, Sheila McMullan, Jason Schloetzer, Iwona Sadowska; ex officio (Kathryn Olesko, Clay Shields)

Georgetown in Washington

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One of the essential attributes of Georgetown as a university is its location in Washington, DC. At times, I try to imagine what would happen to Georgetown University if one would pick it up and place it in the middle of Iowa or a dozen other places. It is almost impossible for me to imagine the same university thriving, because so much of what motivated the construction of the university and what has contributed to its character is related to its location in Washington. This post attempts to deconstruct and identify the synergistic contributions of the university and the city.

It’s useful to begin with the Jesuit roots of the university, devoted to values of education open to all and service to the common good. So, one attribute of DC that is important is the community in which the university is placed. It is a community consisting of the very richest in the country and the very poorest; with highly educated and those with few educational resources; with those taking advantage of the highest quality health care services and those not able to access those services; with those occupying occupations of the highest prestige and those with no work at all. In short, in fulfilling Georgetown’s mission of building women and men for others, DC offers unrivaled service opportunities.

In addition, DC is a national capital. It, thereby, offers advantages to faculty, students, and staff who are interested in communicating their academic knowledge toward potential application in government policies. For Georgetown students, internships in the very heart of government are easy. Gaining first-hand knowledge about how decisions are shaped by evidence and information is possible. Learning the skills of translating from academic findings to action-oriented results is demanded for those who wish to be effective. Such experiences that are common to students and faculty at Georgetown in assistance to the Federal Government are nearly impossible for universities in other locations.

DC is a global city. Embassies, military attaché units, international financial organizations, and nongovernmental organizations with global missions all have presence in the city. For faculty and students with global orientations, it’s easy to learn about the workings of these organizations, to collaborate when appropriate, and to use them to advance one’s own expertise. Using the DC locations of these organizations facilitates work throughout the world, for those who desire deep experiences in countries outside the US.

DC is also a research and scholarship hub, with the National Institutes of Health, the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, the Smithsonian, the Library of Congress, the National Galleries, and the research units of every major federal agency, present in the metropolitan area. Georgetown has welcomed the instructional expertise of researchers in those organizations, to the benefit of our students. They learn from those on the cutting edge of developments in these organizations. Georgetown faculty find among them collaborators for their own research. Relationships that are built on face-to-face communication and ongoing collaboration possible in DC would be difficult outside DC.

DC is a city of institutions. At this time, when trust in institutions of all sectors seems to be at all-time lows, how is this an advantage? Many in the city still believe that working together, across differences, remains the principal way that positive change occurs. So, the faculty and students of Georgetown, who are disproportionately working to improve the world, find that in DC they can have more opportunities to improve their collaboration skills, enhance their navigating differences of perspectives, and identify positive ways forward. They find people who have devoted their own lives to forming partnerships, finding synergies, identifying common goals, and working through differences.

Georgetown has much to give DC, but DC’s attributes are critical in providing the necessary opportunities for it to do so. I can’t imagine a better fit between location and institutional mission.

Recognizing Innovation in Instructional Approaches to Existing Classes

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Over the past few years Georgetown has invested many resources to permit faculty to mount experiments inside their classes, in an effort to continually improve the instruction we offer our students. Georgetown faculty repeatedly note that the most rewarding part of their job is teaching our students. Hence, they are constantly seeking ways to innovate in their instruction.

In fall 2012, the Initiative for Technology-Enhanced Learning offered support for faculty to use computer-based platforms to “flip” the classroom, allowing faculty to spend more time in dialogue with students. It incentivized experiments with a whole host of new pedagogical techniques. Each experiment was evaluated with regard to its efficacy. By 2018, scores of different approaches have been tested. Those receiving positive evaluations have been adopted by other instructors across the university. The “Designing the Future(s)” initiative has prompted a surge in experience- and research-based learning approaches to traditional courses. The “Core Pathways” program is permitting team-teaching across departments, modularization of core curricular requirements, and greater flexibility to students to fulfill their requirements. In short, the past few years have seen a leap in pedagogical innovation at Georgetown.

It seems an appropriate time to recognize the creativity of faculty who have invented new ways to teach and interact with our students, to the benefit of their formation and learning. The purpose of the recognition would, of course, be to celebrate the success of our colleagues in their teaching activities. It would also be a vehicle to spread innovation across departments, schools, and campuses, by reporting techniques that actually work. Six years ago, Georgetown needed a catalyst for innovation. At this point, the rate of innovation naturally occurring seems to suggest that now we need recognition of the innovative techniques being introduced each year.

So, to that end, the provost’s office is seeking input from faculty on how best to recognize such innovation. The options forwarded already are:

                  1. An annual award presented to a faculty member nominated by their                   department/unit/school.

                  2. An annual conference by invitation, where faculty who have innovated in their courses can                    discuss their path to creating the innovation, perhaps attached to TLISI.

                  3. An annual lecture by a nominated faculty member on their teaching philosophy and                   methods.

                  4. A periodic instructional innovation newsletter describing pedagogical inventions, sent to                   all faculty members.

Of course, none of these are mutually exclusive. There are probably other ideas among us.

Our students are increasingly coming to us demanding ways of learning that fit their ambitions – to go deep into a topic in a challenging way, to mix theory and application, and to combine ways of learning within the same course. In response, Georgetown faculty are working harder than ever to exceed those expectations, to the benefit of all.

Recognizing such innovation is proper for Georgetown at this time. It will allow us information to stimulate our own quest to invent new ways of presenting the content of our courses. It will celebrate the success of our colleagues who are models of such innovation.

Discerning Fact, When You’re Far Away from the Observations

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It’s difficult to see any medium of information these days, whether they are print or electronic, without some commentary on what is true and what is not true. This is not a post about that issue directly, but obliquely.

First, what are we talking about: The existence of information widely disseminated in publicly available media that does not comport with other information. Some of this information is easily judged as false, with rather minor checking with more reliable sources. Others require deeper investigation to judge their veracity.

Second, some of the fastest and strongest counter-evidence of false information comes from those who have direct observation of the events that are being described. If a story claims that X occurred at Y location at Z time, but all of those present at Y location around Z time say otherwise, those present know for certain that the story is false. They directly observed whether X occurred or did not occur.

So, if this post is only “obliquely” about the post-fact world, what is it directly about?

One of the dominating forces in the proliferation of the amount of information these days is the rise of digital data sources, so-called big data, high-dimensional in extent, space, and time. The rate of increase in digital data measuring all aspects of the society and the economy is unrelenting and massive. After they are assembled and analyzed they produce information that describes our everyday lives (e.g., changes in consumer prices, nature of job vacancies, impact of education on income, attitudes toward political candidates, media consumption habits, traffic mobility).

Such information is gradually replacing traditional sources of information produced by surveys and censuses. Those sources are slower, more expensive than the data harvested from social media and consumer transaction data. However, those traditional sources were designed with a purpose in mind. The analyst of those data was quite typically part of the design group for the measurements themselves. In that sense, the producer of the information was directly related to the observation step. Good producers approached the data with healthy skepticism and perform well-designed steps of evaluation, prior to the analyses of the data that produced statistical information.

Information produced from big data is often devoid of any insight into exactly how the data were created. They are analyzed for purposes for which they were not intended. The production of “facts” from massive sets of data will be valid only if the analyst really understands the source of the observations, how they were generated, by whom, when, and for what intended reason. The “bigness” of data, absent a deep understanding of how they were produced, has little value.

We are living in an age when high speed computing can generate statistical information in seconds from very, very large digital data by analysts who know little about the data. The “facts” from these analyses require all the scrutiny that we should demand of news stories in popular media. In the extreme, the statistics from these efforts can be no more useful than knowing the mean value of 1,000,000 random digits. If we don’t know how the data were produced, by whom, when, and for what purpose, the statistics can be dangerously misleading about what’s going on in our world.

For discerning truth in popular media and discerning meaning in analyses from big data sources, a skeptical mind, searching for corroborating evidence and scrutinizing documentation of how the “facts” were generated, is critical. Those close to the observations can judge the truth better than those far away from the observations.

“Finding Yourself,” Repeatedly, Relentlessly

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This is the season of commencement speeches. I’ve heard a few in person over the years, seen a few viral ones on video, and read a few in the compendia that are ubiquitous this time of year.

I have deep respect for anyone finding themselves in the position of designing such a speech. The genre seems fairly threadbare at this point in time. It seems nearly impossible to be novel. Indeed, some of the outrageous attempts to be novel backfire.

Most speakers feel obliged to both praise the assembled graduates and provide wise guidance to them. Many take this as an opportunity to proffer their comments on academia and the real world, whatever that means to them.

Having now been exposed to hundreds of these over time, I have one small complaint about a common assertion. Many speeches urge the graduates to find the one thing that makes them happy, successful, fulfilled, centered – or whatever adjective they choose to describe the authentic self.

The implication that I sometimes hear in those speeches is that there exists a relatively static true state of each individual. The job of the graduate is to discern this fixed state and choose that single station in life that is in best alignment with that state.

Reflecting back on my life, such guidance seems misplaced. Acknowledging that these graduates have 70-80 years of life in front of them, the notion of a single right answer to this personal puzzle seems unrealistic. Knowing that whole ways of life are disrupted at an increasing rate through technological change, I think that the right answer for today may not even exist as an option in a few years.

The message of finding the one way forward for them also, to me, places enormous pressure on a young person. Do I need to discover myself in the next 6 months, to become a fully formed person in the real world? What a life-long, high-stakes decision!

Instead, in my way of thinking, a better message is that life options are constantly changing. Life presents different paths at different points in time. A bad decision need not be a permanent failure. The search for one’s authentic self never stops. Every year, indeed, each day, if one pays attention, is filled with choices. Every decision, even the smallest ones, manifest opportunities to find alignment between your essential self and your behavior. One is always becoming.

Lives are filled with bad decisions and good decisions. Deep discernment of the right path, based on slow thinking and careful weighing of options, is impossible for many decisions. Choice must be exercised quickly. Failure to choose an option is itself a decision. Unfortunately, humans aren’t smart enough to be both very, very fast and consistently good in decisions. The research on this seems very clear now.

So, bad choices and imperfect decisions are a way of life for all of us, including the graduates sitting in front of commencement speakers. The wonder of life is that many bad decisions are not fatal to one’s life. Indeed, one benefit of a rapidly changing external environment for all of us is that the choices will relentlessly keep coming at us. Life will continue to present us optional ways forward.

What we each need to pay attention to is the long-run track record we assemble for ourselves through these decisions. Hopefully, we make the important decisions in alignment with our true selves and our values. Hopefully, we get better over time, paying attention to decision outcomes to calibrate this alignment. In short, our behavior may radically change over time, in reflection of changed circumstances. Our life might be a series of episodes that have a theme discernible only to us. Change across one’s life is to be expected. Lighten up, graduates.

Research without a Product is not yet Research

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It is often said that universities have three purposes: 1) the education and formation of their students; 2) the scholarly inquiry of their faculty, and 3) service to the common good. Of course, all of these are synergistic. This is a post about scholarly inquiry or research, which could be viewed as a successor to the last post, which argued that research experiences are key to the future of our students.

The above trio of missions merely notes the need to support “the scholarly inquiry of faculty.” However, the key method of increasing the impact of universities to the common good requires that the results of the research be absorbed by the parts of the society that can profit from the research.

Research results that are undocumented or not disseminated are not too valuable. The notion evokes, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” If research results exist without anyone other than a lone scholar knowing about it, does it matter?

I have known many scholars in my lifetime. Some of the very brightest are not the most successful. They may follow and critique the latest developments in their field. They may be eloquent questioners in seminars and conferences. But they underperform in their own research. Some are hypercritical both of others’ work and of their own. Their critical powers are so acute that little they themselves do meets their own high standards. They fail to end research projects, seeking one more step that will fill in a gap, in an endless loop of polishing. They critique their own writing to such an extent that they actually produce very little.

Knowledge “discovered” by one scholar is not yet “research” in the full meaning of the word. It is a necessary step in the process of research and scholarship, but it is not sufficient. Research by universities is a vehicle to achieve the other two goals of a university — student formation and service to the common good. Hence, the goal of research or scholarship is not complete until their results are disseminated. Research is original inquiry whose results are shared so that they can become part of humanity’s documented knowledge base.

It is at the moment of dissemination that the rest of world can digest, evaluate, and make judgments about the marginal worth of the new product. Some products are judged as mere minor additions to a field’s understanding; others represent field-changing events. Sometimes the early judgment of the usefulness of a product are contradicted by later judgments. But without the dissemination step, little common good can result.

As we teach students how to form research questions or scholarly inquiries, how to engage in the various steps of ingesting information, and creating their own scholarly conclusions, we must also teach them that scholarship products must be freely shared, to fully complete the research step. Scholarly inquiry whose products are widely disseminated maximizes the chances of service to the common good.

Why Do Universities Support Research?

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We live in times of diminished reputation of the higher education sector within the US. In the last few years public opinion has leaned toward less trust in the institutions of higher education, either because of their perceived ideological homogeneity and/or their high cost. The Great Recession forced attention on getting jobs, as the labor market swelled with the unemployed. Many, therefore, focused on the content of the classroom that advances one’s work career.

The discussion of the value of higher education has morphed a bit over time. For example, more people seem to know that lifetime earnings tend to be $1 million or so higher among college graduates versus others. There seem to be fewer calls for young people to reject going to college in favor of immediate entrepreneurial activity.

However, I find that even many college graduates hold in rather low regard the role of research (versus teaching) within universities. Some say glibly, what is the value of a published article in an obscure journal read by 20 people? (Said that way, I must admit, even I have my doubts.) This is less often said about research in the lab sciences, in my experience, but quite common concerning those fields in which the scholarship is often done by single scholars.

One hypothesis I have about this attitude is that most college students see the lives of their faculty members only as instructors. Their exposure to faculty is in formal classroom settings. The research lives of their faculty members are often not as visible to them. Especially in fields where faculty research and scholarship is done in archives or in the solitude of one’s office by oneself, students don’t see their faculty members engaged in research. It evokes the metaphor of thinking that an attorney only argues cases in court, ignoring the assembly, evaluation, and synthesis of evidence outside the courtroom.

I worry about two phenomena: 1) the need for every undergraduate to develop research skills, and 2) the need for universities to articulate why research and instruction are inseparable.

First, we know that large portions of undergraduates now entering college will live to be over 100 years old. This means that their undergraduate years will form less than 4% of their life course. The notion that all learning to prepare one for adult life must be packed into 4%, placed very early in life, seems unwise at best. We expect our graduates to have multiple careers, not just multiple jobs. We should have no illusion that the content of many courses will remain the same 40 years later.

We expect that many will find in their 40’s or 50’s that their chosen career line has been completely disrupted by technical, social, or political change. How can they cope at that moment? At those turning points, they must identify options; they must learn whole new knowledge domains; they must self-teach; they must assemble volumes of information, some relevant, some irrelevant; they must synthesize and form judgments about the way forward. These are precisely the steps exercised in scholarship and research projects. Providing students with 2018 content without giving them the skills to assemble and synthesize 2058 content is a mistake.

This leads to my second worry. If we organize the work of universities to separate instruction from research, we fail to prepare our students for their own original inquiries so necessary to their long-term success. We want our faculty to be active in research because they can convey to our students the then state-of-the-art content of a field. We also believe that it is through research that major contributions to the common good are made by universities. It is rather easy to document that almost all major improvements in our lives built through new knowledge have some of their roots in university research. But it seems increasingly obvious that we also need to integrate research and instruction in order to truly serve our students. Georgetown faculty are active in experimenting with organic integration of research into courses. With this development, we give our students the ability to continuously refresh their lives and careers throughout their 100+ year lives.

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