Biology Professor Honored as D.C. Professor of the Year

Heidi Elmendorf

Heidi Elmendorf, associate professor of biology at Georgetown University, has been honored as District of Columbia Professor of the Year from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The award recognizes Professor Elmendorf’s innovation in the curriculum and her leadership in community-based and experiential learning. Elmendorf is director of undergraduate studies in biology and director of science education outreach. In that role, Elmendorf assists professors seeking grants from the National Science Foundation to demonstrate the broader impact of their research.

Elmendorf co-founded the biology of global health major with Anne Rosenwald, another award-winning biology faculty member. A gateway course for the major requires students to develop and defend a series of communications-intensive science projects, including scientific research proposals, science policy white papers, public service announcements, and educational projects. The course is intended to understand real world scenarios affecting science research and policy.

In addition, Elmendorf has been a leader in community-based learning for over a decade. She created a course called RISE&Teach, a three semester program for upperclass undergraduates majoring in the sciences or mathematics to student-teach in public and public-charter high schools. Students in the course are required to demonstrate mastery of the content and the impact of their teaching in the classroom. This year students have taught at Dunbar High School and at Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools. Elmendorf is the 5th Georgetown University professor to win the award.

Past winners have included Joan Riley, associate professor of human science and nursing (2009); James Sandefur, professor and chair of the department of mathematics and statistics (2008); Joseph Neale, professor of biology (1998); and the late Monika Konrad Hellwig, professor of theology (1988).

Read more about Professor Elmendorf and the D.C. Professor of the Year award.

Campus Compact Recognizes Georgetown for Community Engagement

Georgetown University recently received recognition for its community engagement efforts from Maryland-DC Campus Compact, a network of colleges and universities committed to advancing communities through civic engagement in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

The university received the Engaged Campus Award, which recognizes a university that demonstrates exemplary committed to being a community engaged campus. Georgetown’s community engagement work extends across the entire university, including faculty-led, community-based research; high-impact experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students; longstanding partnerships with community organizations; and much more.

Maurice Jackson, associate professor of history, also received the Civic Engagement Award, which recognizes an individual who contributes to the advancement of community engaged learning and scholarship. Jackson has been a longtime advocate in the District and is an expert on D.C. history and culture. He has written and lectured extensively on the history of jazz in D.C. and the city’s African American population. In September 2013, he was appointed the inaugural chair of the District of Columbia Commission on African American Affairs.

“We are pleased to have the university’s work in our community recognized in this way,” says Lauralyn Lee, associate vice president for community engagement and strategic initiatives. “The Engaged Campus Award reflects the university’s commitment to meaningful and sustained civic engagement, a very important part of our Catholic and Jesuit tradition, our commitment to the common good and the educational experience we provide our students.”

“We share this recognition and honor with the many Georgetown faculty, staff and students who participate in this work and with our dozens of amazing community partners,” says Andria Wisler, executive director of the Center for Social Justice. At Georgetown, we value the relationships with our community partners and their eagerness to collaborate for effective social change.”

Georgetown received the two awards at a ceremony at Morgan State University on November 10th. Read more about the awards and Georgetown’s community engagement work in the District of Columbia.

Street Law Program Showcases Work of DC High School Students

Know Your Rights, an exhibition of multimedia projects created by DC high school students and presenting the DC Human Rights Act, will be on display at Georgetown University Law Center November 19.

In October 2014, Georgetown Law students from the DC Street Law Clinic conducted a series of human rights classes for students from 14 DC public high schools. The classes helped educate students on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the DC Human Rights Act, and encouraged students to develop a creative work reflecting their analysis and understanding of human rights as part of a citywide competition.

An independent committee overseen by the DC Commission on Human Rights will choose finalists for the Youth Human Rights Ambassador Program based on next week’s presentation.

The DC Street Law Clinic is dedicated to enhancing the professional development of Georgetown Law students, while simultaneously serving the greater DC community through legal education for youth and adults. The Street Law High School Clinic provides a two-semester elective course in practical law for DC high school seniors, taught by Georgetown Law students. Students from the Street Law Clinic have participated in the DC Human Rights Act Competition since 2011.

Similarly, modeled after the High School Clinic, the Street Law Community Clinic offers courses for adult learners to reach law and its everyday implications, including small claims court, landlord-tenant law, public benefits, domestic violence, consumer protection, and more. Students teach the course one night a week in a community setting during the summer.

The student projects will be on display Wednesday, November 19th from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in the Hart Auditorium, McDonough Hall, 600 New Jersey Avenue, NW.

Over 80 Students and Alumni Participate in Neighborhood Cleanup

More than 80 Georgetown University students and alumni participated in a neighborhood cleanup in West Georgetown and Burleith on November 8th. The cleanup was the second the university has hosted this fall and followed the annual Burleith fall cleanup on November 1, which the university also supported.

A number of student groups participated, including GIVES (Georgetown Individuals Vocal and Energetic for Service); Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed service fraternity; the Georgetown University Student Association; and the entire varsity baseball team. Alumni participated through the DC Alumni Club and some university staff and neighbors also joined the effort.

Participants broke into teams of ten people to weed tree boxes, rake leaves, and pick up litter. One group of students picked up cigarette butts as part of a class project. Five teams cleaned streets in West Georgetown and two teams cleaned in Burleith, while an additional team in each neighborhood cleaned storm drains.

The Office of Neighborhood Life and the Department of Public Works provided all the cleaning supplies, and university garbage trucks helped pick up bags of yard waste throughout the neighborhood.

Neighborhood cleanups are one way the university demonstrates its commitment to be a good neighbor and provide opportunities for the university and the community to partner on issues of shared interest.

Check out pictures below from the cleanup:

Georgetown Neighborhood Cleanup 11.07.14 Georgetown Neighborhood Cleanup_3 11.07.14 Georgetown Neighborhood Cleanup_4 11.07.14


Politics and Prose: New Course Looks at Washington, DC

How politics in the District of Columbia is depicted in novels, journalism and film is the subject of Washington Confidential, a new Georgetown course co-taught by NPR’s book critic and a ghostwriter/researcher for prominent city movers and shakers.

“I’ve learned how little Washington is represented in novels, poetry and film unless the subject is politics or politicians,” says Joanie Greve (C’15), a student in the class. “Very little has been written about the life of the city itself, partly because of how hard many writers have found the task.”

The faculty members teaching the course are steeped in all things Washington.

Maureen Corrigan, critic-in-residence for Georgetown College’s English department is book critic on the Peabody Award-winning NPR program, “Fresh Air,” and also serves as Mystery Columnist for The Washington Post.

Barbara Feinman Todd, who now directs Georgetown’s journalism program, served as ghostwriter and “book doctor” on Hillary Clinton’s It Takes A Village and other memoirs, and as researcher on Ben Bradlee’s A Good Life, Bob Woodward’s VEIL and Carl Bernstein’s Loyalties: A Son’s Memoir.


Students in the class watch films and read a wide range of works, from Democracy by Henry Adams to Thomas Mallon’s recent novel, Watergate, to Washington Post Publisher Katharine Graham’s Personal History and Edward Jones’ Lost in the City and other material.

Films include the classic 1976 Watergate film All the President’s Men and 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.

“I wanted to introduce students to other versions of Washington, the less obvious ones,” says Feinman Todd. “I’ve lived and worked here for three decades and I’m still figuring out how things work – who is really doing what behind the scenes, the stuff you can’t Google, that doesn’t have a paper or electronic trail – that’s what interests me.

“That’s the book about Washington I want to write,” she adds. “As I try to convey my take on this town to the students it’s helping me work it out in my head. And getting to do this alongside Maureen? Priceless.”

Greve says she’s enjoyed required reading that explores ‘other Washingtons,’ such as the one depicted in George P. Pelecanos’ novel Hard Revolution, which describes neighborhoods affected by the 1968 race riots.

“I think Professor Todd and Professor Corrigan work so well together as a teaching team because they’ve had very different yet complementary experiences of Washington,” Greve adds. “They’ve each lived this city with one foot in journalism and one in academics, and it gives them a rounded and balanced perspective on everything we learn.”


Feinman Todd says she and Corrigan, who are good friends, have wanted to co-teach a course for quite some time.

“Barbara knows more about the craft of journalism and the worlds-within-worlds of Washington than Julia Child knew about cooking and James Joyce knew about Dublin,” says Corrigan, the recent authorof So We Read On, How the Great Gatsby Came to be and Why It Endures (Little, Brown and Company, 2014).“I also thought the class would be a wonderful complement to my New York Stories course – I love to investigate how cities are defined, in part, by the narratives they inspire.”

In a recent class, Corrigan and Feinman Todd led a discussion of Mallon’s historical fibook of historical fiction, which focuses on characters less key to the Watergate scandal, such as the wives of some of the president’s operatives and Fred LaRue, deputy director of the Committee to Re-Elect the President, a.k.a. CREEP.

“Even as somebody who, young as I was when I lived through this era – I couldn’t remember who Fred LaRue was,” Corrigan noted in class. “Part of what Mallon is doing here is decentering the narrative.”

She said the author Watergate appears to be employing a literary theory known as New Historicism, in which writers attempt to “take away from the official narrative history,” and also sometimes “tell it from the bottom up.”


Mallon is scheduled to visit the class on Nov. 13.

Other upcoming guest speakers include Natalie Hopkinson, author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City on the Go-Go musical scene in Washington, D.C., and Georgetown’s Dinaw Mengestu (C’00), Lannan Foundation Chair in Poetics and the author of The Beautiful Things That Heaven Bears, a novel about immigrants in the city, among other novels.

Past speakers include Ted Gup, author of The Book of Honor: Covert Lives and Classified Deaths at the CIA, on secrecy in Washington, D.C., and Evelyn Small, book researcher and editor for Graham’s memoir.


Greves, who hopes to become a journalist after graduation, interned with TIME magazine in New York City this past summer.

She says the class has given her a new appreciation for Washington, D.C., history a better understanding of the city’s moving parts.

“When I see Washington on MSNBC, it becomes easy to think of the city as just these talking heads and the politicians they rip apart or interview, or both simultaneously,” she adds. “But there are many other people here, many other experiences and many other workers that go into making this city run. Reading some of their stories and perspectives has reminded me of their importance here.”

This story is reposted from

Georgetown Releases 2014 Community Engagement Annual Report

Annual Report cover 2014

Georgetown University has released its 2014 community engagement annual report, Georgetown University in the District of Columbia.

As a Catholic and Jesuit university and an anchor institution, Georgetown University is committed to serving the common good in our city as a driver of the economy, a community partner, and a good neighbor. Central to the purpose of a university are the formation of students and the scholarship of faculty, and we engage in these not just to create knowledge, but to use that knowledge to address some of the most pressing challenges in our city and our world.

The university is the city’s largest private employer, with 5,729 employees, 1,963 of whom live in DC. Through our compensation programs and tuition assistance program, Georgetown is helping create wealth in our communities and develop the local workforce.

Through the Georgetown Community Partnership, we have continued to strengthen the relationship with our immediate community, working in partnership to improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods surrounding the university and engaging in long-term planning. In other neighborhoods across the District, students, faculty, and staff are engaging in community service activities to maintain healthy, clean, and safe neighborhoods.

Other highlights of this year’s report include:

You can read the report here and learn more about Georgetown’s commitment to the common good in the District of Columbia.

Georgetown Linguistics Researchers Study DC Dialect

Your dialect says a lot about you—which is why linguists at Georgetown are studying the Washington, DC, dialect and what it can tell us about residents of a city in the midst of change.

The Language and Communication in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area Project (LCDC) was founded in 2006 by Associate Professor Natalie Schilling and Professor Deborah Schriffin. According to Schilling, scholars have done little sociolinguistic study of Washington, DC. There’s an incorrect assumption, she says, that “no one is actually from DC.”

The city’s transitory and international populations have also made the study of the DC dialect more difficult. “It’s more complicated to look at dialects in contact with other dialects,” Schilling explained.

A dialect includes many aspects of speech: pronunciation, word choice, and sentence structure. Doctoral students in the Department of Linguistics Minnie Annan and Anastasia Nylund have spent time in the field listening to DC residents and documenting how they use language.

In their research, Georgetown linguists have found use of particular words such as lunchin’, meaning not paying attention or “out to lunch”; cised, meaning excited; and bama, meaning a person who is unkempt or uncool.

While linguists at LCDC have documented these lesser-known words, they’ve also discovered how individuals use the DC dialect in everyday life. The topic of a DC dialect stirs a lot emotion in the community.

“People use the idea of a DC dialect to either claim identity from [the] area or distinguish themselves from it,” Nylund explained. The DC dialect also illustrates “what DC means to people,” she says, referring to the disconnect between “DC” and “Washington.”

A dialect can also serve as a way for individuals to make connections and navigate their communities, Annan said. Annan is LCDC’s project coordinator and conducted some of her fieldwork at Ben’s Chili Bowl in the U Street neighborhood.

“When I want to make [a] connection with certain people, I turn on Southern features [of my speech],” Annan explained. But other times, Annan shifts away from certain aspects of her speech to avoid misconceptions about Southerners. Likewise, a person who wants to connect with fellow DC residents may use more of the “DC words,” while others may avoid those words in order to distance themselves from the crowd.

We all make these choices when speaking, although we may not be aware of it. “There are no single-style speakers,” Nylund said. “Every single person has an array of styles of language and ways of connecting,” she continued.

Studying the DC dialect not only provides insight into individual perceptions and interactions, but it also allows linguists like Natalie Schilling the opportunity to see how Washington, DC, has changed over time. Schilling is particularly interested in language variation and change. Her work focuses on how “people tell stories about growing up in a neighborhood that’s changed over decades,” she explained. In addition to mapping changes in neighborhoods and demographics, the DC dialect is another way to understand significant changes in the city’s recent history.

According to Schilling, sociolinguists always have two goals: one academic and one social. Schilling hopes that LCDC’s research helps individuals gain a better understanding of others in their community. When The Washington Post covered LCDC’s research, Schilling and her colleagues saw that many people commented that a DC dialect was simply “incorrect,” “sloppy,” or “broken.” But that’s not the case, Schilling explained. Dialects have regular patterns, and there are many unconscious rules.

“We would really like people who don’t study linguistics [for] a living to understand that dialect variation is normal and natural,” Schilling said. “It can be a very important part of peoples’ identity, culture, and personality.”

Annan, who also works at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, teaches young children about the differences between dialects and how people use language for particular reasons. It’s a stark contrast from the prescriptive view of language frequently taught in schools—that one type of speech is good and one type of speech is bad.

“Everybody’s language has value and everybody’s language is wonderful, [but] everybody’s language is different,” Annan explained. “If you understand and acknowledge that language is different, we can move on to the next thing. That’s what I’m trying to do with linguistics.”

This post is reposted from the Georgetown College of Arts and Sciences website.

1776 and Georgetown University Announce Partnership

1776, a startup incubator and venture fund in downtown Washington, D.C., and Georgetown University announced that they will partner to provide students with educational opportunities for direct engagement with D.C.’s unique entrepreneurial ecosystem. The partnership is spearheaded by the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, in concert with Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, Law Center, School of Continuing Studies, and the Office of Community Engagement.

Through the partnership, Georgetown students, faculty, and staff will have access to dedicated space at the 1776 campus and can connect with the robust community of startup activity located there, including mentorship, corporate connections, media attention, and access to educational classes and events featuring the District’s burgeoning startup community. Campus organizations such as the Law Center’s Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic will expand their D.C. community network by participating in programming at 1776.

“1776 provides Georgetown students with an incomparable opportunity to interact with innovators in our community. I look forward to seeing student ideas come to fruition with the mentorship and guidance of 1776’s vast network of entrepreneurs,” said Kelly Otter, dean of the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies.

“Georgetown is an incredible university, and we’re thrilled to support their initiatives to foster student entrepreneurship across the entire institution,” said Donna Harris, cofounder of 1776. “The more that students can get into the startup ecosystem and get hands on with startups, the more we can build a strong pipeline of entrepreneurs for tomorrow.”

The 1776 partnership builds on Georgetown’s existing resources for entrepreneurs, such as Startup Weekend, which runs from Friday, September 19 to Sunday, September 21, and the Entrepreneurs in Residence Program.

“1776 provides Georgetown students and faculty with valuable connections to the real world of entrepreneurship, both locally in D.C. and globally with their worldwide startup network,” said Jeff Reid, founding director of the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative. “This partnership will benefit the entire Georgetown community as we continue to promote entrepreneurship across the various schools and units on campus.”

Learn more about entrepreneurship at Georgetown by visiting the StartupHoyas webpage.

About 1776

1776 is a global incubator and seed fund that finds promising startups focused on solving the world’s most fundamental challenges and helps engineer their success. 1776 focuses on startups in the most broken, entrenched industries and sectors that impact millions of lives every day – specifically education, energy, health and cities.

Because solving big challenges in entrenched industries requires a different approach, 1776 is revolutionizing the startup landscape. From its hub in Washington, D.C., it is sparking a global movement of “problem-solving’ startups through its Challenge Cup and Startup Federation, the premiere network of incubators throughout the world.

1776 was founded in February 2013 by Donna Harris, a serial entrepreneur and the former Managing Director of the Startup America Partnership, and Evan Burfield, founder of netDecide, a provider of enterprise wealth management solutions, and the consulting firm Synteractive.

About the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative

The Georgetown Entrepreneurship Initiative, led by founding director Jeff Reid, inspires Georgetown University students to be entrepreneurial, teaches them the entrepreneurial lessons learned by others before them, connects them to useful resources, and helps them pursue their own unique entrepreneurial interests. The initiative manages an array of courses and extracurricular programs to serve the Georgetown University entrepreneurial community, both within and outside of the McDonough School of Business, and fosters stronger connections to the vibrant Washington, D.C., entrepreneurial community and the Georgetown Alumni Association. Signature programs include the StartupHoyas Challenge Business Pitch Competition, the StartupHoyas Incubator, the McDonough School of Business Entrepreneurial Fellowship, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Alliance, the Georgetown Entrepreneurship Faculty Exchange, Entrepreneurs in Residence, and events such as Georgetown Entrepreneurship Day, the Venture Capital Investment Competition and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Learn more at

Crossposted from the McDonough School of Business website

Teaching Institute Helps Prevent Summer Learning Loss

For 5 weeks this summer Georgetown students helped prevent summer learning loss for DCPS students through the Summer Institute for Teaching and Learning (SITL), a program the Center for Social Justice has run since 2010.

The students-turned-teaching received 3 weeks of intensive training and then taught afternoon classes for 5 weeks at Thomas Elementary School in Ward 7. The institute provides students at Thomas elementary with a safe environment to help them retain knowledge during the summer break.

In addition to afternoon classes, students visited Georgetown’s campus, went on field trips in DC, and learned about higher education. The summer educators ran the program under the guidance of experienced mentor teachers and with support from CSJ staff.

“The most rewarding things, I think, have been the relationships that I’ve made with my students,” says Dan Silkman, a Georgetown senior and a summer educator with SITL.

Video by Kuna Hamad, Georgetown College

Community-Based Work Helps Lombardi Cancer Center Earn NCI Recognition

Georgetown’s Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center earned an endorsement from the National Cancer Institute, due in large part to its commitment to community-based research and engagement.

“It is a powerful endorsement – an external validation – that the work we have done and continue to do is having high impact – both locally and globally,” says Dr. Louis M. Weiner, Georgetown Lombardi director and GUMC professor of oncology.

Georgetown Lombardi is the only NCI-designated facility in the District and one of only 41 such facilities in the country. (Other regional facilities are in Baltimore, Richmond, and Charlottesville). The Lombardi Center operates two community-based clinics in DC, the Capital Breast Care Center in Ward 6 and the Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities Research in Ward 7.

The NCI particularly lauded the center’s work to reduce health disparities in the District. DC has some of the highest cancer disparity rates in the country, particularly among African-Americans, and Wards 7 and 8 have the highest cancer rates in the city.

According to the American Cancer Society, in 2008 African Americans in DC were more likely to be diagnosed with all cancers and more likely to receive a diagnosis after the cancer had spread, compared to all other ethnic groups. Evidence shows that lifestyle factors including tobacco use, poor nutrition, being overweight, and lack of physical activity are related to cancer deaths.

The center focuses on center prevention and control, including early cancer detection and lifestyle changes; breast cancer; experimental therapeutics; and molecular oncology. Current community-based research includes exercise inventions to reduce cancer; exergaming (exercise and gaming) and African-American women’s health; and exercising to help quit smoking and prevent weight gain.

The Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and its community-based programs are a key part of the university’s Health Disparities Initiative, which seeks to identify, reduce, and ultimately eliminate disparities in health and health care locally and globally.

“Georgetown Lombardi is an incredible asset for patients in our region because of the top-tier cancer research and unparalleled care it provides,” says Dr. Howard J. Federoff, GUMC’s executive vice president for health sciences. “The NCI designation of ‘comprehensive cancer center’ reaffirms the high quality and impactful work conducted by a cadre of dedicated cancer researchers here at Georgetown.”