Helping Humanities Scholars Find Careers Beyond Academia

This summer, CNDLS was excited to partner with Connected Academics at TLISI 2017 to offer a session to graduate students in the humanities who might be interested in a career outside of academia. The session, “Connected Academics: Roundtable Discussion on Humanities Degrees and Employment Beyond Academia”, offered a variety of perspectives and narratives on what it means to have a career outside academia and how students can best communicate the skills from their graduate education to land these jobs. The roundtable included both faculty and staff at Georgetown, including Maggie Debelius (English; Director of Faculty Initiatives at CNDLS); Ricardo Ortiz (English); Beth Harlan (Associate Director of Career Education and Counseling); Nick Moschovakis (Communications Development); and Steve Olsen (Associate Director of Research and Manager of Digital Services at the Modern Language Association). This was the first time we have partnered with an organization to provide graduate-student centered programming at TLISI, and the result was a resounding success.

The beginning of the roundtable included introductions from each of the contributing participants who shared their journeys from PhD work to professional career and also offered advice to PhD candidates who might be considering jobs outside of academia. Opening the discussion, Debelius traced her career trajectory back to the beginning of her dissertation. Knowing that she could write a good dissertation about a Victorian novel, Debelius emphasized that what she had truly wanted to work on was how to teach a Victorian novel. Although this did not become a large piece of her dissertation, it did prompt her to think more broadly about what it would mean to grapple with these questions related (but tangential) to academia. Her interest in the narrative and power of doctoral students pursuing different career trajectories – such as teachers, editors, and archivists, to name only a few – developed into the book she co-authored with Susan Basalla titled, So What Are You Going to Do with That?: Finding Careers Outside Academia. The book uses stories of real doctoral students who have transitioned outside academia to underscore that although people might pursue academic interests in different ways, almost all still “live the life of the mind.”

Moschovakis’ comments emerged as a footnote to the narratives of doctoral students in Debelius’ book as he likewise considered how his career trajectory landed him in a truly non-academic job. After finishing his PhD in 1997, he taught for ten years at colleges and universities, with his first job being a tenure-track position at a small liberal arts college; however, he ultimately opted to leave because of its geographical isolation, instead taking a number of one-to-two year teaching positions. After meeting his partner and wanting a position that was more geographically stable, Moschovakis began his current job in communications development. He edits reports often written by PhDs that are intended for a broader audience and runs workshops for these doctoral students or PhD holders to develop these reports. Moschovakis emphasized that as someone deciding to leave academia, his ability to find a job with work he enjoyed came down to two components: having good connections and a PhD from a respectable institution.

Harlan built on Moschovakis’ discussion of connections as she encouraged students to utilize campus resources, suggesting in particular that students attend the Career Center’s workshops for PhD students on Alternative-Academic (alt-ac) jobs or others not specifically marked for PhDs on relevant topics. Outside of thinking about transferable skills at these workshops, she cited the simple act of gathering like-minded students in one room as having cognitive and affective benefits. As the conversation seemed to draw out what it meant simply to think about one’s experience as a PhD student, Harlan emphasized the importance of doctoral students consciously understanding their identity to shift from “I am a PhD” to “I am someone with a PhD,” or in Harlan’s words: “You have the thing. You are not the thing.”

In his discussion of the MLA’s NYC proseminar, Olsen touched on several pieces of advice that emerged from the program, but also resounded with the other roundtable participants’ commentary: contact alums from your own programs who have left academia, be open to the ways you can use your knowledge and experience, and, most importantly, try to think of yourself broadly as a humanist, not just within the confines of your very specific dissertation or research interests.

Finally, Ortiz encouraged further thought about how we might better shape graduate programs to fit the needs of students seeking careers outside of academia. He noted that as a component of Connected Academics, faculty at Georgetown are currently drafting a proposal for a Public Humanities PhD program to produce PhD students who were equipped with the skills to work outside of academia. He emphasized the importance of providing students with skills that could apply to a variety of careers and allowing their work to culminate in a research project rather than a dissertation. While this project could take the shape of a dissertation, it would also have more flexibility to adapt to the needs of particular students, such as when Debelius wanted to think about how to teach in a dissertation process that was more narrowly focused on the content of the novels being taught.

The questions that followed the roundtable elicited several pieces of advice universal to most students. The answers were produced collectively as the roundtable participants added to one another’s responses:

  • The person who wants to make a hire either has a challenge or problem they’re looking to solve; spinning your experience to show them how you can fit into this would be helpful. If you just apply to a job with a PhD and hope it will substitute for a lack of outside experience, it will be hard to tell this narrative. As such, even a little bit of experience plus a PhD can help you to demonstrate your fit for a position.
  • Informational interviews are a great way to connect with someone in a less formal, lower stakes way. They can help brand you and tell a narrative that’s authentic and relevant to the institution without the pressure of a formal interview. Additionally, using the informational interview to develop a professional relationship allows people to vouch on your behalf.
  • Within your ability, encourage your graduate program to think differently about how they want to admit doctoral students. This is the main way graduate students will get skills they need to transition outside the academy.
  • If you’re worried about trying to market and sell yourself to employers as an introvert – where this process might feel uncomfortable – think about it as an opportunity to brand yourself as a researcher. Consider networking as a way to research through people, learning about their positions and institutions. Know that it is fine to focus on quality over quantity, as it might be more comfortable for you to have one engaging twenty-minute conversation rather than four five-minute chats. At the same time, do not be afraid to talk to several people, as a connection might not emerge in your first attempt to network.

Following the roundtable, Connected Academics hosted a Humanities Job Fair, which brought in employers from numerous sectors outside academia who had interest in hiring students with humanities experience. Students had the opportunity to network with employers including: ARCH, DC Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency, Distinctive College Consulting, The FrameWorks Institute, Freedom Marketing, FRESHFARM’s FoodPrints, Georgetown University – Office of Advancement, Green Buzz Agency, The Peace Corps, Pedago, SPARK Business Academy, TitanHouse, and the U.S. Department of Justice Community Relations Service. The diversity of companies that attended just emphasizes that there are roles out there for academics outside of academia. It was a pleasure to partner with Connected Academics at TLISI this summer, and we look forward to continuing to support graduate students in their journeys.

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

Going Further: The Unexpected Joys for Educators and Students of Incorporating Jesuit Mission and Identity in an Interdisciplinary Classroom

As a Jesuit university, Georgetown’s “primary mission is the education and formation of our students for the sake of the kind of persons they become and their wide influence for good in society in lives, professions, and service (AJCU, The Jesuit, Catholic Mission of U.S. Jesuit Colleges and Universities, 2010, p. 3).” It strives to educate ‘the whole person’, not only teaching the Jesuit tradition to students but also how it applies to their lives and studies. These two themes formed the basis of the “Going Further: The Unexpected Joys for Educators and Students of Incorporating Jesuit Mission and Identity in an Interdisciplinary Classroom” session at TLISI.

In the Fall of 2016, Jamie Kralovec took this Jesuit mission and made it his own by developing and leading the course “Jesuit Values in Professional Practice”. Kralovec was inspired by his own experiences of Jesuit spirituality and education and wanted to design an interdisciplinary course that guided students to not only learn the history of the Jesuit tradition but also that promoted reflection: Why do they matter in a student’s Georgetown education and how can they put them into action in their lives? In fact, it was these questions that students discussed in their final presentation.

At CNDLS, we have resources available to faculty who are interested in incorporating reflection into their own classroom. Our Teaching Commons, an online repository of resources to help support faculty design and teach courses at Georgetown, includes a “Reflection in the Classroom” section, as well as an “Ignatian Pedagogy” page that details this specific pedagogical approach. We are always available to help– to schedule an in person consultation, email us today at To watch this full session online, please click here (note: you must be logged in with your GUID).

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

Deja Vu All Over Again: Breaking the Ice on a New Semester

The cyclical nature of the academic experience can produce an odd sense of deja vu; you spend a whole semester building an engaged and productive classroom community, and then the course ends, which means that at the beginning of the next semester you have to start that process all over again with a new group. On the first day, when you walk into the classroom, you might well be thinking: Who are these people and what have they done with the students I’ve been teaching?

It’s a good question. (Well, the first part is.) Luckily, you don’t have to wait a whole semester to start answering it—you can jump in on the first day. More than just a pro forma meeting to hand out a syllabus and talk about enrollments and wait lists, the first day is an opportunity to get right into building the learning community you want to see. You can set tone and expectations, set the stage for the course’s intellectual enterprise, and even get students working on questions relevant to the course—but the first step is probably going to be finding out who’s in the room, and helping students discover who’s in the room, too.

This is where icebreakers come in: activities to help people get to know each other and to create a sense of comfort and familiarity. There are lots of possibilities, including everything from brief introductions and the sharing of basic information (e.g., name, year in school, reasons for taking the class) to more involved activities (e.g., Two Truths and a Lie, Uncle Fred’s Suitcase, The Reception Line). Don’t worry if you’ve never heard of these icebreakers; to find out more and to discover a trove of other ideas, check out our recently-expanded Teaching Commons page on Starting the Semester. You’ll also find tips and suggestions on how to get ready for the semester, how to make the most of the first day, and how to keep the momentum going through the early weeks.

As always, if we can be any help along the way, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at


Teaching after Charlottesville: Resources and a Workshop

As the school year begins, many of us—students, faculty, and staff—are still affected by and preoccupied with the events surrounding the white supremacist march in Charlottesville earlier this month. For faculty and staff, this means we need to be thinking about how to approach our students, and how to take on, in the spaces we share with students, the issues these events raise. Here at CNDLS we’re here to support you as you have these potentially challenging conversations. With that in mind, we’ve prepared some resources that we hope will help, including a workshop and an online collection of relevant teaching suggestions and materials:

On Thursday, August 31st, from 2:00-3:30 pm in the HFSC Herman Room, we’ll host a “Teaching in Difficult Times” workshop, designed for faculty looking for strategies and support in addressing difficult issues, such as the recent events in Charlottesville, with students and within the curricular content of courses. Find out more and register for the workshop here.

We’ve also compiled a webpage on Teaching After Charlottesville, full of teaching ideas, links to reading materials, and thoughts about how to make this difficult time powerfully and effectively educational for your students. Explore the list of resources here.

Please also feel free to reach out to us at if we can provide more help to you as an individual teacher or to your department or program. We hope that these resources will help you and your students begin the semester on a footing that can take us all forward.

Educating the Whole Person for Beginners: TLISI 2017

At Georgetown, one of our core values is teaching in the Jesuit tradition. At this year’s TLISI, we focused one of our plenary lunches on these values and hosted a panel discussion titled “Educating the Whole Person for Beginners” on Tuesday, May 23. The panelists discussed themes of well-being, mindfulness, and reflection in the classroom, with David Ebenbach moderating. He began this session by quoting educationalist Nel Noddings:

“We will not find the solution to problems of violence, alienation, ignorance, and unhappiness in increasing our security apparatus, imposing more tests, punishing schools for their failure to produce 100 percent proficiency, or demanding that teachers be knowledgeable in “the subjects they teach.” Instead, we must allow teachers and students to interact as whole persons, and we must develop policies that treat the school as a whole community. The future of both our children and our democracy depend on our moving in this direction.”

To watch the full video of this session, please click the above image (note: you must be logged in with your Georgetown NetID).

Taking the concept of the “whole person” as a starting point, panelists Sabrina Wesley-Nero (Education, Inquiry and Justice), Jason Tilan (Human Science), Christine Evans (Performing Arts), and Kathy Maguire-Zeiss (Neuroscience) highlighted programs and resources specific to whole-person learning available to faculty and staff at Georgetown. In particular, panelists discussed the Engelhard Project, which incorporates health and well-being issues into the classroom, as well as various other resources such as the Teaching Commons Pages.

Panelists discussed the importance of one key component of educating the whole person specifically—appealing to students’ experiences outside of the classroom. A simple way of actualizing this concept that was shared is to ask students to introduce themselves at the beginning of class without subscribing to traditional labels or goals—an exercise Evans (Performing Arts) uses in her class. She asks students to tell personal stories or experiences around prompts like “water,” for example, to help get students begin to build and define themselves from the bottom up. Later in the sessions, panelists shared their experiences as Engelhard Fellows in the Engelhard Project, and how Engelhard components helped to support whole person learning. 

The Engelhard Project’s Connection to Self Care
When discussing the Engelhard Project, many panelists noticed students in their Engelhard courses focusing on their own well-being just as much as their academic-based goals throughout the semester. Wesley-Nero (Education, Inquiry and Justice) saw an increase in students from her Engelhard course who visited her during office hours to share challenges and personal experiences. She was also surprised to read in post-course  student reflections that students had struggled with the well-being issue discussed in the course in their own personal lives. She found that her course served as a reminder to students to practice their own self-care by using the counseling support services on campus, eating healthier, or utilizing a campus resource that they might not have otherwise. Maguire-Zeiss (Neuroscience) was surprised by the lifestyle changes students reported throughout the year, as well as their plans to maintain these changes after the class concluded.

All panelists felt the Engelhard Project to be a tremendous help in brainstorming and implementing a course focused on teaching to the whole person. By connecting with health professionals and other speakers who come into classrooms and talk to students, the panelists felt like they were giving a gift of holistic teaching and learning to themselves as educators that they could then pass to their students. Being part of the Project helped them gain the confidence needed to jump into educating the whole-person.

If you are interested in learning more about educating the whole person or the Engelhard Project, we invite you to visit the Engelhard website and contact us with questions.

If you missed the 2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) or would like to revisit a TLISI topic, follow along with us as as we feature various sessions on the Prospect blog over the course of the 2017-18 academic year. We’ll be sharing posts on the following themes: Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Innovative Teaching Practices, Technology Enhanced Learning, Evidence-based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, and Cross-Institutional & Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many of the sessions were recorded and are viewable on Digital Georgetown (accessible by anyone with a Georgetown NetID). You can also find a links to all of our recorded sessions on the TLISI Resources page. Please follow us on Twitter and Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to stay updated on posts and more!

CNDLS Design Studio: New Processes for Online Course Development

Every summer, CNDLS works with faculty from across campus to design and develop online courses, in conjunction with the School of Continuing Studies (SCS). With many Georgetown undergraduates leaving the Hilltop after spring semester, these online courses are an alternative option to on-campus summer classes. This year, in partnership with SCS faculty, CNDLS designed and developed the highest-ever number of courses, with six new courses and nine repeats for a total of fifteen different classes available. Due to this record-setting number, the CNDLS team was challenged to come up with a new process for developing courses.

In the past, all of the faculty members who would be teaching a summer course would meet three times, followed by one-on-one meetings with members of the CNDLS Learning and Design (LD) team. While this approach was appropriate for a few online courses, it became harder to maintain at a high standard as more and more courses were added to the schedule. As a result, the LD team created a new process—the CNDLS Design Studio: Online Learning Series.

As courses are now taught using Canvas instead of Blackboard, the team decided to build their training using the new platform. Built as a Canvas course itself, the Design Studio is comprised of an orientation and three modules that cover design, development, and management of online courses. There are now six meetings throughout the year for the faculty to meet as a full cohort, including one after courses conclude that focuses on lessons learned. This has created a sense of community for the faculty participating, and provides an opportunity for peer-to-peer feedback.

This summer was the first implementation of the Design Studio and it received much praise. Faculty members appreciated being able to learn from one another; it sparked their creativity and helped create a learning community. The increase of full cohort meetings also created more organization, with course milestones planned for each meeting, and accountability, as faculty were presenting their ideas during the meetings to their peers. When asked for comments on the new way of developing courses, feedback included: “[t]hanks for this detailed and useful feedback. I really appreciate the attention to detail and substantive suggestions here” and “Thanks for all your help (and I copy the entire team to thank them as well!) Go, CNDLS!”

Having proved to be a very successful method, this new approach will help to shape training and course development for other classes as well. Currently, CNDLS is using the Design Studio to support main campus faculty with summer course design and development. With its success, the team is now looking at who else may benefit from participating in the studio in the future.  To learn more about the CNDLS Design Studio, please To learn more about other CNDLS developed online courses, visit our GeorgetownX page.

2017 Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute Recap

Each year, we here at CNDLS strive to put together a diverse, engaging conference called the Teaching, Learning and Innovation Summer Institute (TLISI) aimed at bringing our Georgetown community of faculty, staff and students together to learn and grow. Working under the theme of Complexity, Diversity and Change: Teaching and Learning in the 21st Century, TLISI 2017 was our largest yet. This year, TLISI had over 500 registrants for the four day institute, and offered more than 80 sessions, both in person and virtually!

This year’s programming centered around seven themes: Evidence-Based Teaching and Learning, Inclusive Pedagogies, Teaching in the Jesuit Tradition, Incorporating Difficult and Timely Topics, Technology Enhanced Learning, Innovative Teaching Practices, and Cross-Institutional and Cross-Departmental Collaborations. Many sessions touched on more than one topic area; from workshops to panels, keynote presentations to daily meditation, the sessions were varied by type and topic to offer something for everyone. In addition to a record number of faculty, we were thrilled to welcome many staff to this year’s institute as well, truly making TLISI a space for shared, integrative work in teaching and learning.

Along with all the general sessions, we also offered attendees the opportunity to participate in our  Productive Open Design Spaces (PODS) at TLISI. Tackling projects from creating a guide for faculty on best practices in academic integrity to building a 1-credit SFS writing studio course, PODS saw 10 groups come together over the course of the week to ideate, iterate, and design together.

Additionally, the incoming cohort of Doyle Fellows held their first meetings where they began conversations on how they might redesign a course to integrate more diversity and inclusion into their curricula.

If you missed this year’s TLISI, or want to revisit a topic, we will be highlighting many sessions here on the Prospect blog over the course of this summer and academic year. The opening plenary, Georgetown University’s Working Group on Slavery, Memory, and Reconciliation: How Georgetown’s Past is Shaping its Future, was a dynamic discussion with Adam Rothman and Marcia Chatelain, both Professors in Georgetown’s History department and members of the Working Group. Dr. Brad Johnson joined us Wednesday for his keynote,“The Art (and Science) of Outstanding Mentorship in Higher Education” where he shared his research on developing high-impact mentoring relationships in higher education. We are pleased to partner with  Lauinger Library to offer the recorded videos of twelve sessions from throughout the week to members of the Georgetown Community through Digital Georgetown (please note: you must be signed in with your GUID). You can access the videos via the Resources page on the TLISI website.

If you haven’t already, please follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get updates through the rest of this summer and the academic year!

Looking Forward: A Community Site for GU Domains

This June, a group of CNDLS staff attended the Domains 2017 conference in Oklahoma City and presented their exciting vision for a Domains Community Site—a community space where users can create, collaborate and discover with each other in an online environment. The presenters, who included CNDLS’ Yianna Vovides, Yong Lee, and Marie Selvanadin in addition to Jim Groom and Tom Woodward, shared a 3-layer model to support engagement with Domains at the campus, programmatic, and individual levels.

Read the full blog post to learn more about the presentation and the new model, and visit the Georgetown Domains website to learn more about how you can create your own domain today.

Poll Everywhere: Mobile Polling in the Classroom

During the Fall 2016 semester, CNDLS conducted a pilot of Poll Everywhere, an online polling service that allows users to respond to polls using a computer or mobile device in or outside the the classroom.

Georgetown University instructors Diana Glick (Chemistry), Patrick Johnson (Physics), and Betsy Sigman (MSB) participated in the pilot.

The pilot faculty used Poll Everywhere in a variety of ways with students, including reviewing content using multiple choice questions, applying concepts to solve a problem, marking a location on an map, generating free responses using a word cloud, and as an icebreaker activity. All polling was conducted anonymously and not used for graded activities.


Glick found Poll Everywhere very useful to ask her general chemistry students about course material related to the previous class. “I would be able to start Friday’s lecture with, ‘What did you get out of Wednesday’s class?’”  She also encouraged her students to discuss questions for which there was not a clear consensus on the right answer. When she asked them to talk to each other about it, “the room would erupt in conversation.”

Johnson, who teaches “Principles of Physics,” presented his students with Poll Everywhere multiple choice questions nearly every class to expose his students to as much problem solving as possible during his physics lectures. He found the service to foster greater student engagement. “In a classroom where you just say a question, you wait for a response, you don’t really get a response for the most part. And when you do, it usually comes from the same people, and I want to know what everybody’s thinking. And so compared to just open-ended questions, [with] no way to answer anonymously, [Poll Everywhere] is a huge improvement.”

Sigman used Poll Everywhere for an icebreaker activity for her Developing/Managing Databases course. “There was a sort of wow factor when we did a question about ‘Where are you from?’ and the students were able to pull out their Poll Everywhere app and point to where they were from in the world.  We did have some students from abroad, and it was a lot of fun to see that happen on the screen in front.”

At the end of the Fall 2016 semester students were surveyed in all three classes with 164 students responding out of a total of 379 (43% response rate).  Students feedback was positive.

Findings from the survey included:

  • 76% of students agreed that “using Poll Everywhere provided me immediate feedback on my understanding of concepts.”
  • 69% of students agreed that “using Poll Everywhere caused me to pay attention in class.”
  • 77% of students indicated it was “very easy” to set up Poll Everywhere.
  • 92% of students would recommend their professor continue to use the service in class.
  • 84% would like to see Poll Everywhere used in their other classes.

What did students say they liked about Poll Everywhere? They noted ease of use, responsive service, and that it came at no cost (for pilot participants).

All three pilot faculty are continuing their use of Poll Everywhere in their courses the Spring 2017 semester. CNDLS is working with University Information Services to explore Poll Everywhere integration with Canvas and Blackboard learning management systems and support other faculty interested in bringing mobile polling to their classrooms.

If you’d like to learn more about Poll Everywhere, visit the company’s website where you can sign up for a free educational count for up to 40 responders per poll. To schedule a consultation to discuss incorporating mobile polling in your classes, please contact CNDLS.


Georgetown Domains: Join a Community of Over 650 Active Users and Shape your Digital Identity

Do you want to create your own online space, but something is holding you back? Whatever the reason, we’re here to help. With Georgetown Domains, anyone in the Georgetown community can create their own custom subdomain.

GU Domains has over 650 active users, with 60% being students. The remaining users are faculty and staff that represent more than 50 different departments from all over campus. With more than 250 users joining in just the past six months, this community is growing and you can be a part of it, too. You’ll have access to tools to help you build your site—after that, the sky’s the limit! Read more about the current state of the Domains initiative and what other Georgetown users are creating with Georgetown Domains in this post by CNDLS Graduate Associate Sam Whalen.