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New Institute to Explore Student Ethics, Judgment

August 30, 2010 – A new national institute will meet at Georgetown every year to study evidence of “engaged learning” in students and alumni, including ethical development through civic engagement, intellectual and intercultural sensitivity and reflective judgment with complex problems.

The Institute for the Study of Engaged Learning (ISEL) is made possible through a $3 million gift from the Engelhard Foundation, which since 2004 has helped Georgetown create courses in which students connect real-life situations with traditional curriculum.

Engelhard courses have included such innovations as having an introduction to math modeling course look at how alcohol affects physiology. More than 3,000 students have since been taught in 100 courses in at least 20 different departments.

R&D for Curriculum

The ISEL will bring together faculty, student affairs leaders and other academic staff from colleges and universities across the country, including those represented through the National Leadership Coalition of the Bringing Theory to Practice Project. The Engelhard-funded coalition has representation from 53 colleges and universities and is sponsored by the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

“The Engelhard gift presents us with an amazing opportunity,” said Randy Bass, executive director of Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning, which supports the Engelhard courses. “Not only will it help ensure the long-term sustainability of the Engelhard courses, but it also will allow us to expand the core idea of engaged learning into a veritable ‘research and development division’ for the Georgetown curriculum.”

A Learning Endowment

The new gift, announced Aug. 30 by Georgetown’s Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) and Office of Student Affairs in conjunction with the Charles Engelhard Foundation and Sally Engelhard Pingree, renames the project as the Engelhard Endowment for Engaged Learning at Georgetown University.

“The foundation’s increased generosity allows us to more deeply connect our commitments to intellectual learning and care for the whole person, in keeping with our Jesuit tradition,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “We are extremely grateful to the Engelhard Foundation for their support of our innovative methods to do this important work.”

The ISEL will also look at evidence of adaptive learning and creativity of students undertaking undergraduate research projects, community-based learning and social entrepreneurship. Its members plan to produce print and digital publications as well as video materials and occasional symposia and workshops to disseminate their findings.

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