Georgetown Jesuits’ Plan for a “Distinctive Education”

It might be tough to consider the abstract merits of Georgetown’s curriculum this week—you’ve got papers to write and tests to take, after all.

But, that’s not stopping some Jesuits who recently released (…hold on, Vox is taking a deep breath…) A Distinctive Education: Reflections by Georgetown Jesuits on Education at Georgetown. If the title somehow didn’t clue you in, the document is the Jesuit Community’s best suggestions as to how reshape the University’s curriculum.

The document, which was collaboratively written by 27 members of the Jesuit Community, outlines aspects that the community feels are necessary to strengthen a Georgetown education.

In an interview with Vox, Christopher Steck, S.J., a member of the Provost’s Ad Hoc Working Group on the Curriculum, said that despite changes with departments and majors, a “systematic redoing of the curriculum [for the University as a whole] hasn’t happened in a long, long time.”

But, don’t expect to find any arguments for or against Map of the Modern World in A Distinctive Education, because the Jesuit Community’s recommendations don’t dive into the nitty-gritty of University academics.

Inspired by Spiritual Exercises, a text by Ignatius Loyola, A Distinctive Education hones in on three themes that the Jesuits feel are important for the University to address when reforming the academic curriculum.

First, the Jesuits advocate for “a world richly understood and religiously explored.” (Vox‘s translation: Georgetown’s Catholic identity isn’t prominent enough.)

“This doesn’t mean [classes] will be like catechism … [we’re] not trying to tell you what to believe,” he noted.

Steck mentioned that Catholic influence isn’t just in theological areas, but is also found in philosophy, art, literature, architecture, as well as a variety of other disciplines, meaning that it is possible to further incorporate Catholic tradition within the University.

“[Georgetown’s Catholic identity should be] fostered in tandem with a broad and respectful pluralism,” according to the A Distinctive Education.

After the jump, read about the Jesuits’ other suggestions, as well as A Distinctive Education in its entirety.

The second point in the Jesuits’ plan is to further the process of “formation” and cura personalis.  (Vox‘s translation: It’s the University’s responsibility to shape students into their future selves.)

“We want students to get an education plus more than just a degree,” Steck said. “I’d like to see [students] do something with what you are learning.”

Steck’s sentiments tie in closely with the Jesuits’ third concern—a “call to service.”  (Vox‘s translation: Students should be more committed to helping others.)

“[Students should] develop hearts and minds ready to contribute fruitfully to the work of social justice and the common good,” suggests the document.

In Steck’s opinion, it is vital that Georgetown “connect[s] the curricular with personal reflection and engagement.” Fittingly, A Distincitive Education was partially borne out of his visits with students over the past school year.

“A Distinctive Education” offers no specific changes that the University should make as it looks at reforming the curriculum, but Steck claims that is not its goal.

“This is not a blueprint, it’s just suggestions,” Steck said. “Concrete goals [for curriculum reform] must be done by the whole campus.”

A Distinctive Education, Jesuit Reflections

9 Comments on “Georgetown Jesuits’ Plan for a “Distinctive Education”

  1. Rev. Steck is a brilliant man and a fine educator.

  2. Three cheers for the Jesuits! Hip, hip, huzzah!

  3. To little too late. We won’t have full cura personalis on this campus until Jesuits are personally delivering condoms to students rooms, performing abortions in Dahlgren and quoting the Vedas and Talmud at mass. Only then can we truly call ourselves a progressive campus.

  4. Did anyone else think the “Vox’s translations” were just a bit condescending? I think Georgetown students can figure out for themselves what “a call to service” means.

    I only hope that the University seriously adopts these themes in its education, rather than just paying lip service to taking them ‘into consideration’. After all this is a Catholic Jesuit University and that should be evidenced in all aspects of the University’s life, especially her academic life. I think that should start with examining what certain faculty members espouse in the classroom.

  5. I like the ideas that are thrown in by the Jesuits, but I think that they should get involved in the ‘nitty-gritty’ of academic development. As individuals they are all respected for being intelligent and pious people, and they are the founders of the identity.

    If we want to truly live the Catholic identity of this university, the first step is not to sideline the men who have dedicated themselves to living that identity!

  6. “I think that should start with examining what certain faculty members espouse in the classroom.”

    Well, this is an ominous statement. Care to elaborate?

  7. As a reminder, 50% of this school isn’t Catholic. It’s easy to say that Georgetown shouldn’t sacrifice it’s Jesuit ideals for money/students/image/prestige/whatever, but let’s be honest: if we left our rigorous admissions standards in place, and then the size of this campus shrank to 5,000 undergrads (so we leave some Protestant, Hindu, and Jewish students in place), the only beneficiary would be the CAG.

  8. and Muslim students. I accidentally deleted that when I was editing. Whoops. Sorry.

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