Announcing the Launch of Designing the Future(s) of the University

November 12, 2013

To the Members of the Georgetown University Community

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen:

I write to let you know of an integrative new effort that Georgetown will launch on November 20 called “Designing the Future(s) of the University.”

Today, Georgetown stands at a unique crossroads of promise and transformation: we have a 225-year-old history steeped in an extraordinarily rich educational tradition; a strong record as a place of convening civil and civic discourse; and, more recently, we have sought for our University be a place of educational innovation, expanding the boundaries of our model through the ITEL Initiative and joining the edX Consortium last year. At this exciting time for higher education, in the face of growing forces enacting change on our sector, we are exploring new ways to animate our storied tradition.

Rather than responding to the potential disruptions by narrowly focusing on preserving who we are, we believe that Georgetown can make a distinctive contribution to this discourse dominating American higher education by treating the question of our future as a challenge of imagination, creativity and design. To that end, it is my great pleasure to announce the launch of an initiative to imagine the future of Georgetown called “Designing the Future(s) of the University.”

This effort will engage the whole Georgetown community in an exploration of issues facing higher education and active experimentation with new ways to deliver the education we value into the future. It will provide us with a framework to address the pressing questions that we face as we look toward the future: What do we value about Georgetown that we don’t want to lose? What do we believe we should give to our students? And what could it look like to expand the formal boundaries of education?

I invite you to join me in launching this effort with a candid discussion between Provost Groves and me focusing on the current challenges we face in higher education. We hope it will help establish the framework for the initiative ahead. This conversation will take place on November 20 at 5 p.m. in the Fisher Colloquium on the Main Campus, and a reception will follow to allow for further discussion inspired by the topics at hand. We will also webcast the event.

Thereafter, the Initiative will stage a series of connected events that facilitate conversation and innovation on how we live out our educational mission, building a vision over a period of months from three overlapping sites of activity:

  1. Exploration of issues facing higher education with thought leaders;
  2. Engagement of our students, faculty and staff in asking fundamental questions;
  3. and Experimentation with new ways to deliver a Georgetown education, focusing especially on innovative large-scale experiments that rethink the boundaries of traditional education and develop new combinations of face-to-face, online and experiential learning.

As a central component to the process, we will deepen the conversation throughout the academic year by engaging a diverse set of leaders from inside higher education through a series of public talks. These expert guests will lend insight into designing a university that we could only create at this moment – one with liberal education values at its center but that is appropriate for a world changed by technology, globalization and ever expanding frontiers of knowledge.

Our conversations today will shape the way that we navigate our next chapter; it is great honor to engage with you on this process of creating new ways, new packages, to meet the challenges and define the future ahead.

You have my very best wishes.


John J. DeGioia