Georgetown is planning to launch a new six-credit, year-long class this fall that allows students to create their own projects to help improve the surrounding D.C. community.
The class, “Urban Studio,” is being led by professors in the English, sociology and anthropology departments. Students will work with professors, community organizers and fellow students to complete their projects.
The class has been developed with Designing the Future(s), a university initiative to design new education initiatives.
The professors leading the project hope that the initiative will not only teach students valuable research, planning and observational skills, but will also connect the students and the university to the surrounding city on a deeper level.
English professor Sherry Linkon, one of the founding professors of the “Urban Studio,” said the course is an opportunity for students of various disciplines to work together on a project to help improve the community.
“Studio-based courses are courses that are built around hands-on projects that students do. They are often of their own design with the idea that students learn by doing the project in a setting where they’re talking with other students, where they’re talking with faculty — both the faculty in the studio and other faculty around campus,” Linkon said.
Linkon said the community involvement and work that this project would entail could help students prepare for a future in working in local government, nonprofit organizations and public policy.
“It will help them develop skills and experience that could enable them to continue doing community work when they leave Georgetown, and to help students prepare for working in local government and nonprofit organizations and public policy and community arts kinds of things because they get that experience,” Linkon said.
The course originated from student requests for more opportunities for community involvement, as well as the popularity of urban studies classes at Georgetown and Georgetown’s lack of an official urban studies department. Several of Georgetown’s peer institutions, including Brown University and the University of Pennsylvania, have urban studies departments and majors.
Sociology professor Brian McCabe, one of the professors involved in the creation of the “Urban Studio,” said the development of the Urban Studio is a step toward expanding urban studies at Georgetown.
“The ‘Urban Studio’ course came from faculty members recognizing the desire among students. The urban studies classes that professor Linkon teaches, that I teach, they’re always full. There are tons of students who are interested in the city as a site of study. It came out of student demand recognized by the faculty, and then the faculty working to creatively come up with a way that we could address that demand.”
Anthropology professor Laurie King, who is also involved in the “Urban Studio,” said the urban studies program will allow students to learn about a wide range of topics.
“It would be bringing people in from the community onto campus to help students learn, and the students going out into the community and continuing to work with those people and form new networks through them, and to learn more about the city, learn more about themselves and learn more about their skills and capacities,” King said.
McCabe said the course is unique among Georgetown courses because of its collaborative nature.
“The real world is collaborative,” McCabe said. “When you go out and get a job and you work in an office you collaborate with other people. At the moment our classes aren’t always set up like that. The studio encourages deep, meaningful collaboration.”
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