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New Winner of Prestigious Scholarship Aims to Reform, Redesign Higher Education

March 11, 2019 – Erika Bullock (C’17) is the first Georgetown graduate selected as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar to pursue graduate studies at Stanford University. One of only 69 scholars selected from around the world this year, she plans to use the scholarship to explore higher education history and innovation to develop structural and pedagogical reforms that help students flourish.

Degree Pursuing: Ph.D. in the Social Sciences, Humanities, and Interdisciplinary Policy Studies (SHIPS) program in higher education at Stanford Graduate School of Education

Undergraduate Major: Bachelor of Arts in English from Georgetown College

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Being a Knight-Hennessy Scholar: The Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program aims to develop an interdisciplinary community of future global leaders to address the world’s most complex challenges through collaboration and innovation. As a Knight-Hennessy Scholar, Bullock receives full funding for her doctoral pursuits when she begins studies at Stanford in the fall.

This is an incredible opportunity to be a part of a community that deeply cares about bettering the world, and to learn how to do that work from my peers across disciplines and schools,” says Bullock. “As someone interested in reconsidering our traditional educational structures, I also can’t wait to be a part of a program that models interdisciplinary and experience-based learning, while foregrounding collaboration and care.”

Undergraduate Experience at Georgetown: Bullock received the Emilia Ferrara Thesis Award for outstanding senior thesis in the English department and Georgetown’s Outstanding Senior in English Award. She also served as an editor at The Georgetown Voice and as the undergraduate representative on the search committee to select a new dean for Georgetown College.

It was her work as a student project associate with Georgetown’s Designing the Future(s) Initiative that solidified Bullock’s interest in reforming higher education.

Designing the Future(s), led by Georgetown’s Vice Provost for Education Randy Bass, aggregates, designs and pilots new models of teaching and learning across the university to advance a culture of educational innovation.

A Professor’s View:

“Erika is the perfect blend of someone who is deeply appreciative of the roots and traditions and ideas of liberal learning, but who recognizes that where we've been and what we've been is, poignantly, not good enough for what's next,” Bass says. “We need to recreate our best traditions as ambitious approaches to the future of education.”

Encouraging Change:

“I learned that change can require throwing a wrench in the gears of traditions that no longer serve their constituents,” says Bullock. “Under Randy Bass’ guidance, I started my work with the Future(s) Initiative, and found that strategically breaking rules from a foundation of care, concern and trust was a way to mend higher education systems in need of change.”

Current Research: As a project coordinator and researcher with the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) and the Designing the Future(s) Initiative, Bullock focuses on curricula and programs that redefine traditional education structures – like rethinking credit hours, cost structures and discipline-bound learning – to support a vision for a contemporary liberal education.

She hopes the interdisciplinary education Ph.D. program at Stanford will help her build on her current work and allow her to consider higher education through humanistic modes of inquiry from philosophy and history.

“That would give me a deep understanding of how higher education deals with change, meaning-making and the public trust,” she says.

For more information about the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program and other fellowship opportunities, please visit the Georgetown Office of Fellowships, Awards and Resources or email gufa@georgetown.edu.