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Intensive DC Internships at Core of New Downtown Learning Opportunity

November 15, 2018 – Georgetown students will have the opportunity to join a new immersive downtown DC community next fall in which they intern during the day, take classes at night and explore issues related to living and working in the nation’s capital.

The Capitol Applied Learning Lab (CALL), expected to launch in the fall of 2019, will include new experiential learning and residential space in close proximity to the Capitol for up to 30 students, whose integrated courses will be complemented by internships in public service, nonprofits and entrepreneurship.

“Rigorous academic learning to address real-world problems and developing valuable skill sets and mindsets are more likely to be enacted in immersive contexts,” explains Randy Bass, Georgetown’s vice provost for education. “By living and working downtown, our students will deepen their undergraduate learning and experience by connecting their intellectual work with a commitment to moral leadership and serving the common good.”

Tackling Challenges

Students in the living-learning immersion program will engage directly with the city as they spend a full semester at the CALL.

Internships will include work with government and nongovernmental organizations and a wide range of nonprofits and startups, especially those that focus on social enterprise. Courses will be taught by existing full-time faculty members.

The CALL will maximize the time students can spend at internships throughout the city by offering evening courses downtown.

By providing placement support and academic credit for internships during the academic year, the CALL will increase access to the kind of immersive internships that some students are able to complete over the summer months.

“For many Georgetown students, taking an unpaid internship over the summer is not an option," Bass says. “We believe access to selective internships should be available for all our students, including those who are first-generation or who have financial need.”

Each participant in the CALL will also receive comprehensive assistance in finding internships that both best suit their career interests and which tie into their coursework.

Rigorous and Reflective

All students will take part in an internship experience with a rigorous, reflective four-credit seminar, and a variety of other options to choose from, including a three-credit seminars and one-credit high impact skills-oriented courses, earning a total of at least 12 credits while living downtown.

"We expect that part of the curriculum will come from existing experiential courses, including those offered through the four undergraduate schools and our Center for Social Justice,” Bass says, “and some internships courses will be created to meet new opportunities, such as those that focus on public policy or public humanities and the arts.”

Signature CALL courses include those focusing on justice and equality, environmental issues, policy and the law, ethics in the field, writing for advocacy and in real-world contexts and understanding Washington, D.C. as a local and global city, among others.

“I'm excited about CALL because it involves three powerful kinds of learning – experiential learning through internships and studio projects, integrative learning through interdisciplinary courses that build on the internships, and engaged learning as students work on projects and problems that matter to them,” says English professor Sherry Linkon. “That all of this happens in the heart of D.C. rather than on the Hilltop is even better, since that helps students think about how what they learn in their courses plays out in a specific community.”

Student Perspective

Leslie Telleria sitting at a desk with a computerLeslie Telleria (C’21), a first-generation student who participated in Georgetown’s Community Scholars Program, says it is “almost impossible” for students like herself “to be putting in all that labor and not get recognized or payment for [internships].”

“That’s why the CALL was really intriguing to me,” says Telleria, who serves as a project associate at the Red House. “I just think it's an amazing opportunity that you can't get everywhere. I think that being able to get credits while having an internship experience is really rewarding.”

She notes that some internships turn out to be little more than drudge work.

“But if we have this program where we connect credits to the internship experience, I think that'll help navigate that problem and make it more meaningful for students and help them understand the ins and outs of their internship and their experience.”

Signature Program

Information sessions on the new learning opportunity began in October and will continue into 2019, both general sessions and those with specific departments and programs.

“We hope that the CALL will become a signature program for Georgetown, offering undergraduates the opportunity to be in residence downtown for a semester while earning academic credit integrated with immersive internship and practicum experiences,” Bass says.