Hundreds of Furloughed Employees Enrolled in Free Georgetown Courses
October 21, 2013 – More than 500 furloughed federal employees and contractors enrolled in free courses and seminars at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies (SCS) during the 16-day federal government shutdown that began Oct 1.
The school created a special program in response to the shutdown as part of Georgetown’s commitment to Washington, D.C., and to reach out to the large number of government workers who were unexpectedly out of work.
Nineteen courses were offered over a two-week period in subject areas such as project management, leadership development, health care and social media.
“We had an extraordinarily enthusiastic response from the local community and were truly moved by the high demand,” said Walter Rankin, SCS interim dean. “My hope is that furloughed employees who were able to take a Georgetown course learned new knowledge or a new skillset that they can take with them back to their workplace. Above all, we’re grateful the shutdown is over and our friends and family are back at work.”
All courses were offered through SCS’ Center for Continuing and Professional Education at its new downtown campus location.
Furloughed employees who took part in the courses represented a broad spectrum of government workers and contractors, including those working for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the FBI, the Department of Labor, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Parks Service.
The employees were eligible to take one free course each after applying and being accepted into the class.
Most of the courses were designed to appeal to government workers with the idea that they would take what they learned in the classroom and apply it to their workplaces.
The course Ready, Set, Reset Your Social Strategy challenged its students, many of whom work as public affairs professionals, to boost their social media savvy through hands-on workshops.
“What we really focused on was empowering students to use essential social media tools and strategies that would enable them to advance their professional work,” said Tiphané Turpin, visiting assistant professor in SCS’ public relations and corporate communications graduate program.
Turpin co-designed and taught the social media course, one of the most popular offerings, with Julie Dixon, deputy director of Georgetown’s Center for Social Impact Communication and an adjunct instructor in the public relations program.
High demand for the courses exceeded expectations. Initially, six courses were offered with 100 seats, which filled up immediately. The school added an additional 13 courses.
Better Road Map
Other courses included Innovation and Leadership in Government, Project Management Fundamentals and Manager as Coach.
Kim Skrtic, a health services expert at the Peace Corps, enrolled in the project management course.
“I lead the management of a large Peace Corps project,” she said. “I learned so much [from the course] and feel like I have a better road map and tools to manage my project.”
A Bright Spot
While the government reopened on Oct. 17, many students chose to finish their multi-day courses.
“The classes [Georgetown] offered to furloughed workers were a bright spot in what was a very difficult time for many of us,” said Rebecca Miller (C’92), a Department of Education worker who also took the project management course. “I am not sure if I can put into words how appreciative I am of those classes over the past few weeks. I have never been so proud to be an alumna.”