DAN GANNON/THE HOYA The Beeck Futures Fellows inaugural class of 23 students will work with university students in the Philippines to help them develop a nutritional program for starving children unable to attend school.
DAN GANNON/THE HOYA
The Beeck Futures Fellows inaugural class of 23 students will work with university students in the Philippines to help them develop a nutritional program for starving children unable to attend school.

As part of the Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative, the Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation launched the Futures Fellowship on Jan. 5, which will offer 23 selected undergraduate students the opportunity to participate in a consulting project with a client organization on a specific social problem.

Student applicants from all schools and grade levels were able to fill out an application detailing their interest in the program due Jan. 11 and were notified of their acceptances Jan. 13. Fellows will receive a fellow recognition note on their transcripts, but will not receive academic credit.

This spring, the Fellowship will connect its inaugural class of 23 students with the Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines through Skype and conference calls. Students will be tasked with expanding a nutritional program for children who are unable to fully participate in school due to ongoing starvation.
Throughout the semester, the students will develop ideas and conduct research to evaluate the current program. At the end of the fellowship, they will present their recommendations to the clients and other mentors.

Beeck Center Director of Impact Investing Michael Chodos expressed his high hopes for the program, which he believes will help students to develop an ability to work across different sectors to solve complicated but important social issues.

“Through the Fellowship, students get to learn what it means to think about these really important problems on the ground level and to be able to identify where all the different pieces are,” Chodos said. “[They will learn] how to put together a comprehensive way of thinking about these problems, and to iterate as they experiment with potential solutions.”

The fellows will meet on a weekly basis times throughout the semester, in addition to attending lab sessions. The classes will be conducted in a group-mentoring format.

In addition to various professors who will mentor the students throughout the course including Chodos, guest speakers and senior students with experience in development projects will also speak to the students regularly.

In conjunction with other programs from the Designing the Future(s) of University initiative, the Fellowship aims to foster inter-disciplinary and cross-school experiential learning and opportunities.
Beeck Center Executive Director Sonal Shah said that the Futures Fellowship is also interlinked with other programs offered by the Beeck Center, including the GU Impacts program, which allows students to engage in social development work overseas, including a planned summer trip to the Philippines.

“Many of the students in the Fellowship program would have the opportunity to go and work with the organization in the Philippines during the summer,” Shah said. “This connects them from classroom to real fieldwork.”

According to Chodos, the Beeck Center plans to offer a lab focusing on social action every semester to allow students to apply their knowledge by working on a specific issue. In addition, the center is in the process of getting approval to convert the currently zero-credit course into a for-credit course next fall.
Marco Fornara (SFS ’16), who was accepted into the fellowship this semester, said that he believes the program will allow him to apply problem-solving skills to real world situations.

“I have done a lot of theoretical and intellectual work in my study of politics, and I want to see the results applied to real life situations, which is the most important aspect of problem-solving,” Fornara said.
Amanda Zeidan (MSFS ’16), another accepted student, said that the fellowship aligns well with her personal development goals.

“Understanding the way local governments, NGOs and different communities relate to this kind of project is an integral part of policy-making and is especially important for us students going into foreign service,” Zeidan said.

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