On the wintry afternoon of February 9, twenty faculty and health professionals from across campus gathered into Copley 0G22, Professor Joan Riley’s cozy apartment, to share with one another how they each “do Engelhard.” The group, present and past Engelhard Faculty Fellows or Health Professional Fellows, were meeting as part of a semesterly Community of Practice gathering for the Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning. With special guest Provost Robert Groves, they discussed the powerful impact the Engelhard Project has had on their teaching, on their students’ — and their own — learning, and on the broader Georgetown community.
Throughout lunch, faculty and health professionals shared stories of their collaborations as part of the Engelhard Project. Karen Stohr (Philosophy) and Jen Schweer (Health Education Services) shared their experience of partnering together to infuse Engelhard components into Stohr’s course, Introduction to Ethics. Stohr’s course asks students to think about ethics in community, and when reading Immanuel Kant, she asks them to think about the conjunction of alcohol and sex — how that might show up on Georgetown’s campus and the impact it might have on the broader community. Not an easy topic to broach, Stohr and Schweer start the conversation by helping students come to a collective understanding of the topic of sexual assault via case studies, illustrating the importance of new avenues of which to think about the way sex and alcohol are portrayed in the media.
Since first joining the Engelhard Project in 2005, Heidi Elmendorf (Biology) has invited Phil Meilman (CAPS) into her Foundations of Biology I course numerous times. A large course of approximately 240 students, the content covered is wide and vast; everything from atoms to organisms. Elmendorf builds her Engelhard component around a research project that asks students to look at the genetic basis of mental health disorders. The research paper her students are asked to write spans four-to-six weeks of the course, and allows the students to choose their own topic to research — something most of them have never had the opportunity to do before taking Elmendorf’s course. But perhaps the most compelling part of the course is the way in which Elmendorf encourages students to open up the conversation around mental health; she shares her own personal struggle with depression. Together, Meilman and Elmendorf, with the support of several TAs, create an environment that breaks down the stigma of mental health, makes intentional space for metacognitive and affective dimensions of learning, and personalizes what is also a very scientific subject.
Jim Sandefur (Mathematics) shared his approach to using equilibrium modelling and mathematics as a way to explore real world issues of alcohol use and topics of weight gain/loss. With Health Professionals Patrick Kilcarr (Health Education Services), Phil Meilman (CAPS), and Carol Day (Health Education Services) as Engelhard resources for these topics, Sandefur noted that his students were truly learning information they could use and were applying it to their own personal experiences, commenting that “while students had been inundated with alcohol education since high school, this was the first time they had learned something new, and they’d take this new information and express concern for their friends.” Both Sandefur and Kilcarr highlighted the importance of providing support for students, and others also echoed the appreciation for learning about and exposing students to campus resources and support. According to Kilcarr, the opportunity to put a face to these resources helps students “come to the realization they don’t have to struggle anymore, and this is the greatest gift we could give our students.”
Among other thoughts, faculty reflected that the Engelhard influence and focus “humanizes big classes” and helps students to realize “if they are going to be men and women for others, they need to have an eye for their own health and well-being.” Topics tackled by health professionals and faculty through Engelhard collaborations in the classroom include self-care, empowerment, attention and presence, sexual assault and victimization, risk behavior and alcoholism, mindfulness, suicide, eating disorders, and many others. A core part of the Engelhard experience is in reflection and asking students to “link their lives with the classroom,” exploring personal development and well-being in an interdisciplinary and intentional way. As one former fellow reflects, the Engelhard Project “has changed how I teach.” The Engelhard Project is excited and inspired by the work of faculty and health professionals in collaborating to support a deepened student experience.
The Engelhard Project for Connecting Life and Learning focuses on teaching to the whole student. Georgetown faculty link academic course content to health and well-being topics through readings, presentations, discussions led by campus health professionals, and reflective writing assignments. By incorporating health and well-being issues into the classroom, the Project fosters academic learning and encourages students to reflect on their own attitudes and behaviors. Learn more about faculty stories or contact email@example.com for more information.