“Press Pause” Series Highlights Diverse Contemplative Practices, Care of Mind, Body, and Spirit

The most recent edition of “Connections,” the online magazine of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU), focuses on the ways Jesuit schools, in the spirit of cura personalis, are serving the physical and mental health needs of students, faculty, and staff throughout the pandemic. Mission in Motion has written about several of the ways that Georgetown has met the physical, mental, and spiritual needs of our community during a time of unprecedented personal and collective stress, for example,  SCS’s Daily Digital Meditation, Monday through Friday at 12 p.m. EST, has offered a space for reflection and contemplation (consider signing up here). As a reminder, students seeking mental wellness resources should connect with the Counseling and Psychiatric Service (CAPS) and staff and faculty should reach out to the Faculty & Staff Assistance Program (FSAP).

The individual and collective stress caused by the pandemic has led to many initiatives that attend to the mental health and well-being of our community. Georgetown’s Campus Ministry is offering a weekly “Press Pause” Series in March and April to address our community’s spiritual health needs.

The article “Finding Peace of Mind at Loyola Chicago” especially caught my attention. This piece addresses the significant emotional and physical benefits of mindfulness meditation, something that Mission in Motion addressed this past summer. I resonated with the article’s concluding point made by Fr. Scott Hendrickson, S.J., a chaplain and Associate Provost for Global and Community Engagement at Loyola University Chicago. Fr. Hendrickson makes an important connection between the damage that unaddressed stress can do not only on our minds and bodies but on our spirits. He says: “These negative reactions [to stressful circumstances in our lives] often cause us to complain about, and to, other people, which is destructive in maintaining meaningful relationships – including our relationship with God.”

In an effort to meet the spiritual needs arising from our community as a result of pandemic-related stress, Georgetown’s Campus Ministry is offering a regular series called “Press Pause: Co-Creating Sacred Time.” The series begins on March 2 and ends on April 28 with each weekly session taking place at 5 p.m. ET over Zoom (you can log in each week here). Press Pause, building on Georgetown’s inter-religious commitment and multi-faith model of chaplaincy, will feature contemplative practices from diverse faiths, traditions, and cultures. The sessions are led by experienced practitioners and are open to all, offering accessible introductions to the practices while honoring their traditions of origin. You can see the entire schedule below.

The “Press Pause” series celebrates the diversity of faiths, traditions, and cultures while honoring the traditions of origin. Log in each Tuesday at 5 pm EST from the week of March 2 to April 28 through Zoom https://georgetown.zoom.us/j/94579629333

I invite you to take advantage of this unique Georgetown opportunity to experience the sacred by taking a pause in the midst of your daily life.

Association of Jesuit Colleges & Universities Introduce “Anti-Racism Examen”

The AJCU has propelled forward the work of racial justice at Jesuit colleges and universities with a new resource, “Anti-Racism Examen,” which adds to a collection of resources available here https://www.ajcunet.edu/racial-justice

Over the last year, Mission in Motion has highlighted some of the ways that SCS has integrated mission into its efforts to cultivate an inclusive, anti-racist community striving to realize Georgetown’s value of Community in Diversity. Among other activities, SCS formed the Diversity, Equity, Belonging & Inclusion Council (DEBIC), a staff and faculty committee dedicated to supporting the integration of diversity and inclusion values into all aspects of the academic setting, and launched a series of community listening circles for students, staff, faculty, and alumni to share their honest experiences of racism in the university community. The work of racial justice at SCS continues as it does throughout Georgetown, demonstrated by a variety of ways that the university is exploring the systemic racism that continues to impact the lives of people of color.

This week, racial justice efforts at Georgetown and across the national network of Jesuit colleges and universities received a welcome resource to sustain this movement for greater racial equity. The Association of Jesuit Colleges and University (AJCU) launched an “Anti-Racism Examen” to help ground racial justice initiatives in the Jesuit spirituality that animates our schools. Thanks to a significant collaboration by many faculty and staff leaders across the U.S., the AJCU “Anti-Racism Examen” is a comprehensive set of resources intended to guide our Jesuit higher education institutions as we face the debilitating sin of racism and make good on our mission commitments. The intention of these resources is to link the personal to the institutional, fostering deepened reflection and action about how our AJCU institutions need to grow in order to realize an anti-racist future.

A core component of the AJCU “Anti-Racism Examen” is a 15 min Composition of Place video, which features images and audio from across the Jesuit network. The video is intended to spark further dialogue and reflection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-7k24NzdSA

The “Anti-Racism Examen” consists of three components:

  • Composition of Place Video: This 15-minute video adapts the guidance of St. Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits and author of the Spiritual Exercises, who invites the retreatant to imaginatively consider all of the aspects of one’s context and situation before entering into meditation or prayer. Similarly, this video invites viewers to look “both around and inside for landmarks. What is the racial reality right now on our campus and in ourselves?” Evoking significant feelings about the realities of racism, this video helps viewers to engage with the gritty reality of racism and serves as preparation for the dialogue and reflection of the Examen to follow.
  • Guided Examen: The Examen is a practice of interior reflection that helps the individual, and in this case the institution, more deeply align one’s motivations and actions to God’s invitation to build a more just and generous world (for a previous Mission in Motion reflection on the Examen, see here). The Examen, which has been inclusively adapted to a diverse range of audiences, invites us to get in touch in a very particular way with our inner motivations and movements. The AJCU “Anti-Racism Examen” (a guide for leaders is here) is meant to stir reflection and discernment about grounded and specific ways to dig into our experiences of racism by actively listening to one another and then holding ourselves accountable to the moral imperative of anti-racism.
  • Resources for Ongoing Discussion and Discernment: The hope is that the “Anti-Racism Examen” becomes an ongoing and continuous practice for units at the university and that it shapes concrete actions. To support action planning, the AJCU has created both a racial justice resource page and ideas for an anti-racist future.

I hope you spend some time reviewing this valuable AJCU resource and considering the ways that Ignatian spiritual practices can support the ongoing work of racial justice. More to come on how the “Anti-Racism Examen” can be more fully utilized in our SCS learning and working spaces.

The Season of Lent Offers Opportunities for Self-Reflection, Community Healing

 Georgetown’s Campus Ministry marks the Christian season of Lent with a daily devotional reflection. Sign up here to receive a daily email during the Lenten season https://signup.e2ma.net/signup/1803259/1719680/

Next week, the Christian calendar turns to Lent, a season of preparation for Holy Week and the celebration of Easter. Georgetown’s Campus Ministry typically marks the beginning of Lent with Ash Wednesday, including a service in the SCS inter-faith chapel, but the pandemic has challenged us to reimagine the distribution of ashes. One helpful way to journey this season together is by following along with Georgetown’s 2021 Lent devotional (sign up here), a daily reflection from a diverse group of students, staff, and faculty. The devotional is highly subscribed throughout the world and is a helpful way to appreciate the Christian significance of Lent.

But what exactly is Lent and how might this season offer important insights, not just for Christians, but for all people? How can the Lenten journey be translated in a way that resonates universally and appeals to our common humanity?

For Christians, Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter marked by prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The period tracks  Jesus’s journey from suffering and death to the new life of the resurrection on Easter. This period captures the core of the Christian mystery – healing and redemption of a broken world are made possible by a loving and merciful God who meets the world in its human condition.

More than just giving up things, like one’s favorite dessert or guilty pleasure, Lent is a time for inner transformation. Thomas Merton, a well-known contemplative Christian mystic, cautions against the temptation to treat Lent as an exercise in guilt:

In laying upon us the light cross of ashes, the Church desires to take off our shoulder all other heavy burdens – the crushing load of worry and obsessive guilt, the dead weight of our self-love. We should not take upon ourselves a ‘burden’ of penance and stagger into Lent as if we were Atlas, carrying the whole world on his shoulders.”

Lent then invites Christians to be in touch with their individual and collective sorrows – the ways that we block the love and goodness of the Spirit in our own lives and in our lives as members of a community. There is both grief and healing in this purification process of acknowledging all of the ways that we have failed to love. Questions to inspire deeper self-reflection include:

  • What holds me back from fully and freely loving myself, others?
  • What in myself is in need of transformation and healing so that I can let go of my attachments in order to be of generous service to others?
  • What is getting in the way of my truest and most authentic self?
  • With a particular focus on persons marginalized by our social systems and structures, who do I ignore or avoid in the world? How do I contribute to the marginalizing?
  • How am I being called to renew myself and my commitments?

So this Lent, wherever you are on your journey of life, I invite you to consider the possibilities that come with honestly and mercifully naming your faults in order to be transformed by them into greater love. In writing about Lent, Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Worker movement, offers that a generous and sacrificial love is a lifetime job and that this love is the only way to the kind of transformation of body and mind that Lent invites:

“Love and ever more love is the only solution to every problem that comes up. If we love each other enough, we will bear with each other’s faults and burdens. If we love enough, we are going to light that fire in the hearts of others. And it is love that will burn out the sins and hatreds that sadden us. It is love that will make us want to do great things for each other. No sacrifice and no suffering will then seem too much.”

For a virtual streaming Ash Wednesday service, please visit Georgetown University’s Facebook Page on Wednesday, February 17 at 7 pm.

SCS Events in February Highlight Black Voices, Future of American Democracy

In his message, “Our Democracy,” President DeGioia invited the university community to a deeper commitment to the common good in light of recent events that have reminded us of the fragility of the nation’s democratic institutions. As a university based in the capital city, with an ingrained Jesuit heritage, President DeGioia called upon the notion of public responsibility, first developed by Cicero and later adapted by the Jesuits into a civic spirituality (an integration, according to Jesuit historian Fr. John O’Malley, of classical humanism and Jesuit spirituality). The power of this civic spirituality is that it can fortify the entire community as we proceed through a “defining moment for our nation in how we choose to respond.”

In celebration of Black History Month, SCS is running a “Find Your Voice” social media campaign. This week, SCS staff member and Sports Industry Management alum Tremell Horne shared about his work with the food and health equity non-profit “Dreaming Out Loud.” You can watch his Instagram Takeover here https://www.instagram.com/georgetownscs/

This month, SCS responded to this invitation by designing several events and programs intended to foster deeper reflection and discerned action about how to meet the many social justice challenges facing Georgetown and the nation. SCS Dean Kelly Otter, in an announcement “From Insurrection to Inauguration: Implications For Our Democracy’s Future,” shared about two school events intended to explore the profound obstacles facing our society with the assistance of the intellectual and professional perspectives of the SCS faculty.

The first event, “Insurrection to Inauguration: Reflections Across Professions,” takes place on Tuesday, February 9 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (you can RSVP here). Co-hosted by Dr. Kristen Hodge-Clark and Faculty Director Kerry O’Grady, the panel convenes distinguished local experts from four different fields – journalism, public relations, emergency and disaster management, and applied intelligence – to discuss and reflect upon the events that unfolded in Washington, D.C. (you can read a Mission in Motion interview from the summer with Dr. Hodge-Clark here).

The second event, “Current and Emergency Security Challenges in Washington, D.C.,” takes place on Wednesday, February 24 from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. EST (you can RSVP here). Moderated by Faculty Director Dr. Frederic Lemieux, the event features D.C. Chief of Police, Robert J. Contee III, who will discuss existing and upcoming security challenges that the Metropolitan Police Department is facing.

SCS is convening two events in February about the future of American democracy in the aftermath  of the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.

Both events take place in the context of February’s celebration of Black History Month. SCS is honoring Black voices, within Georgetown and throughout the wider community, with a “Find Your Voice” social media campaign. Each week, the campaign will highlight an influential figure in Black history, as well as share reflections about their impact. This week, SCS staff member and alum of the Sports Industry Management program, Tremell Horne, hosted an Instagram takeover that featured his service work at Dreaming Out Loud, a D.C.-based non-profit that addresses health and food inequities through economic opportunities in marginalized communities. You can check out Tremell’s Instagram takeover here as well as an interview he did here with Mission in Motion during the fall semester.

Taken together, these efforts reflect the special responsibility of Georgetown SCS being located here in the capital city just blocks away from the U.S. Capitol. As President DeGioia noted, affirmed by Cicero and Fr. John O’Malley, our university character strives to be shaped by an “unwavering commitment to truth, service, and the common good.”

Interfaith Service Renews Georgetown’s Commitments to Truth, Justice, and the Common Good

Chaplains from multi-faith traditions gathered at the start of the new semester to renew the Georgetown community. Watch the service here https://www.facebook.com/georgetownuniv/videos/168418411736495

Last week, the chaplains and staff of Campus Ministry held an interfaith prayer service, “Renewing Our Community,” to help raise our community up to the work of truth, justice, and service for the common good (you can watch a recording of the service here). The gathering reflected Georgetown’s commitment to Interreligious Understanding, with chaplaincy directors offering reflections and wisdom from across a diversity of religious traditions.

In addition to supporting the community as it embarks on a new semester, the interfaith service challenged and inspired a renewed commitment to the shared work of justice in response to recent events. In the face of the insurrectionist violence at the U.S. Capitol and a climate of disinformation that inspired it, the reverberating reality of racial injustice in our community and society, and the continued distress caused by the global pandemic, our interfaith chaplains summoned us to answer these challenges with hopefulness, humility, perseverance, and a spirit of mutual support.

Fr. Greg Schenden, S.J., director of Campus Ministry, led off the service with an invitation to take to heart the presupposition of St. Ignatius to assume the best of each other’s intentions. Sometimes this requires, in a spirit of humility, that we correct one another’s errors. This is a difficult invitation but it is required if we desire to realize the deepest aspirations of our university mission.

Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan, director for Dharmic Life and Hindu spiritual advisor, reminded us that words have power and we need to be intentional about choosing words that reflect the path of harmony and light, not division and darkness. Rabbi Rachel Gartner, director for Jewish Life, challenged the community to connect with those with whom we disagree. While honest conversations are not always easy, reflected Rabbi Gartner, generative disagreements lead to a culture of authentic encounter.

 Rev. Ebony Grisom, Imam Yahya Hendi, and other faith leaders reflected on the demands of justice and the common good.

Imam Yahya Hendi, director for Muslim Life, called for healing in the nation, especially for those harmed by bigotry and injustice. We all have a role to play, prayed Imam Hendi, in uniting the nation around the values of peace, justice, and love, but it takes courage to tell the truth to those in power. Rev. Ebony Grisom, interim director of Protestant Christian Ministry, picked up on this theme in her stirring invitation to reform our hearts and minds in order to renew our community. With so much in need of repair in our university community and in our nation, we can be tempted, reflected Rev. Grisom, to continue using the old forms and patterns. New patterns are possible and we are challenged to take on “big work” to affirm our commitment to the Magis, the choice that leads to more generosity, more justice. Changing our community requires changing our behavior and renewing our minds, Rev. Grisom shared.

Please take a little time to experience this moving service. As you do, I invite you to reflect on how you desire to renew community in this new semester. How can you answer the call to justice, truth, and the common good? And if you are interested in exploring the resources of Georgetown’s interfaith chaplaincies, please visit the Campus Ministry homepage.

SCS Faculty Instruction Session Highlights Jesuit Values in Virtual Teaching and Learning

Shenita Ray, SCS Vice Dean for Education and Faculty Affairs, invited the school’s faculty to a special session last week on “Teaching for Mission: Suggestions for Incorporating Georgetown’s Jesuit Values in Your Virtual Courses” (a recording of the session is available here). The event provided an opportunity on the eve of the new semester to reflect on the pedagogical significance of the Jesuit values at the heart of the Spirit of Georgetown and offer the values-based framework as a critically important teaching resource for these virtual times.

SCS faculty instruction session on incorporating Jesuit values featured faculty leaders, Dr. Erinn Tucker and Dr. Ifedapo Adeleye, who reflected on their work to integrate mission and values into their teaching.

Some faculty members are interested in these values but might not know where to begin the journey of incorporating Jesuit principles into their teaching. Others might assume that this invitation requires a particular religious background. There is no prerequisite for accepting this invitation other than a sincere and intentional commitment to make the values come alive in a way that honors the unique contexts of the faculty member, her students, and her specific discipline or industry.

Organized as a panel, the session sought to address faculty interest by introducing the Spirit of Georgetown as a pedagogical framework, reviewing the many teaching support resources that SCS has developed, and offering reflections from SCS faculty leaders on their own experience of bringing Jesuit values into course design and teaching.

Fr. Mark Bosco SJ, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, led off the presentation by putting the Spirit of Georgetown into context. In addition to summarizing the unique difference of an education rooted in the Catholic and Jesuit traditions, Fr. Bosco walked through each value and explained the potential implications for teaching. The value of People for Others, for example, invites faculty to address a “provocative challenge” that our learning “must engage the struggle for justice to protect the needs of the most vulnerable and the most marginalized of society.” There are resources across the university, like the Center for Social Justice, that are available to faculty desiring material about how to cultivate students’ commitments to service and solidarity. Similar connections to on-campus and off-campus resources apply for each of the values.

 Fr. Mark Bosco SJ, Vice President for Mission and Ministry, offered helpful insights about how the Spirit of Georgetown can inspire teaching practices.

I followed by providing a bridge between these high-level values that we aspire to as a university community and the specific ways that SCS has created pathways, through information and tools, for faculty to apply Jesuit values in their teaching. These resources include an innovative strategies guide for online and on-campus courses as well as an instructional continuity framework intended to encourage the use of Jesuit pedagogical strategies as a way to support community values. In addition to these resources, I shared suggestions for how faculty can use digital tools to make space in their classrooms for students to share openly about  challenging feelings–especially because of intersecting and overlapping crises of global pandemic, racial injustice, and increasing social and political polarization.

The session concluded with personal testimony from two SCS faculty directors, Erinn Tucker and Ifedapo Adeleye, who shared examples of how they have appropriated Jesuit values into their work. Dr. Tucker, faculty director for the Global Hospitality Leadership program, presented on the way that she uses a reflection journal throughout a course to foster students’ deeper, interior engagement with the course material. And she shared how People for Others is a central theme of her classes, drawing an important connection between Jesuit values and a holistic understanding of hospitality. Dr. Adeleye, faculty director for the Human Resources Management program, offered examples of how the program’s curriculum puts students directly in touch with real-world clients faced with significant human resources challenges. When done well, client-facing opportunities within coursework encourage students, Dr. Adeleye observed, not only to develop necessary professional skills but also to develop their own values and mission in the world.

Every faculty member at SCS, representing every discipline and professional industry, is invited into deeper engagement with our university’s founding principles and values. If you would like to explore the Jesuit values and their relationship to your teaching, please reach out to Jamie Kralovec, SCS Associate Director for Mission Integration, at pjk34@georgetown.edu.

Teaching the Speeches of Dr. King and Congressman John Lewis

Georgetown’s MLK: “Let Freedom Ring! Initiative” takes on added significance this year, especially in light of last week’s insurrectionist violence at the U.S. Capitol. Faculty are annually encouraged to “Teach the Speech,” taking a selected speech from Dr. King and incorporating it into courses and other learning activities at the university. 

The invitation from the Center for Social Justice and other university offices extends beyond faculty to include students, staff, and community partners. More than observing the MLK Jr. holiday as a day off from work, the tradition of teaching the speech reminds us that the struggle for racial and economic justice, which animated Dr. King’s life, continues today and requires our individual and collective action. That struggle, which is also reflected in several of our Spirit of Georgetown values, like a Faith that Does Justice, invites the Georgetown community to commit more deeply to the legacy of Dr. King. 

This year’s Teach the Speech takes on added significance, given recent events in the ongoing struggle for racial justice.

The 1965 speech “Our God is Marching On” is a classic example of Dr. King’s rhetorical ability to name both reasons for despair and for hope. On the side of despair, Dr. King points to the way Black communities encounter systemic inequality in jobs, housing, education, and economic opportunities. He also notes the way that cynical political and economic interests sought to purposefully divide Blacks and whites in order to advance their bottom lines. The point for Dr. King, then and now, is that the campaigns for racial and economic justice must be intertwined. But Dr. King does not rest in the desolation of these realities. Instead, he points to a transcendent hope in the struggle: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” This is not a superficial, naïve hope, however, but one that is grounded in truth and non-violence. 

Teaching the speech is an important way to keep Dr. King’s legacy alive in our work and study.

The late Congressman John Lewis, in his 1963 speech for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, echoes many of the points that Dr. King will make in 1965. However, given the wishes of Dr. King and other senior leaders who advised that he tone down his rhetoric in light of political sensitivities, we can see how Congressman Lewis amended his prepared remarks.  The side-by-side comparison of these speeches helps us appreciate some ongoing tensions in social justice movements. 

A concern that Lewis’s prepared remarks might alienate the presidential administration of John Kennedy led to language that affirmed the ways that Kennedy’s federal efforts supported the cause of civil rights: “It is true that we support the administration’s Civil Rights Bill. We support it with great reservation, however.” Lewis goes on to point out the many ways that legislation alone, the courts alone, cannot provide jobs and cannot provide safety against violence. Seeing these speeches in comparison helps us reflect on the discernment necessary in the movements for racial and economic justice. What language to use? How to frame the arguments? Who to address? 

Taken together, this year’s speeches by Dr. King and Congressman John Lewis have the capacity to provoke some necessary reflection in our SCS learning spaces. No discipline or industry is immune from serious reflection and analysis about how to contribute to the movements for racial and economic justice. The speeches also affirm our ongoing commitment at Georgetown to attend to the whole person in our teaching and learning. For both King and Lewis, the interior life—a life devoted to reverence and worship—was always integrated with their lives of public action. This is a good reminder that an education is not just about the mind, but also the soul, the heart, and the hands. May we find inspiration this year in the wisdom of Dr. King and Congressman Lewis as we continually discern our actions for justice.  

Violence at the U.S. Capitol and Reflections from the Jesuit Network

There is not much more to say in this moment about the saddening events of this week. We witnessed a direct attack on the nation’s democratic processes that was brought about by the intentionally inflammatory rhetoric of the nation’s elected political leaders. Words cannot capture the depths of hurt that our community is feeling this week. I invite us to sorrowfully pause and grieve these efforts to undermine a peaceful transfer of power. As a reminder, there are many health resources at Georgetown if you need additional support.  

Leaders at Georgetown, like President DeGioia and SCS Dean Otter, issued statements this week condemning violence at the U.S. Capitol

In the wake of violence at the U.S. Capitol, leaders at Georgetown and across the Jesuit network issued statements condemning this assault on democracy and pointing a way forward. Georgetown President John DeGioia lifted up and affirmed the aspirations of the American project and the ideals of democracy: “There is an extraordinary depth of commitment to these ideals that, especially today, can be a source of consolation and solidarity as we pursue important and necessary work to build a more just and equitable future.” And SCS Dean Kelly Otter, after lamenting this shameful moment in the nation’s history, encouraged the community to look to the university’s mission for insight about how to respond: “I encourage all members of the Georgetown community to renew our commitment to these principles, and to transform the potential for despair into the possibility of peace and justice in our nation.” 

The Ignatian Solidarity Network and others in the larger Jesuit network offered reflections and resources.

Statements across the Jesuit network in the United States also affirmed that in such a perilous time in history the values and commitments of our mission-driven institutions are critically needed. The presidents of America’s Jesuit Colleges and Universities called for an end to the violence. And Fr. Tim Kesicki, president of the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, cautioned about the dangers of malformed notions of religion: 

In many societies, there is an increased level of conflict and polarization, which often gives rise to violence that is all the more appalling because it is motivated and justified by distorted religious convictions. In such situations, Jesuits, along with all who seek common good, are called to contribute from their religious-spiritual traditions towards the building of peace, on local and global levels.” 

In addition to the religious dimensions, the Ignatian Solidarity Network (ISN) acknowledged the reality of racial injustice that motivated the rioting and violence: 

These events are a testament to the ongoing reality of a culture of white supremacy in the U.S. Attackers were permitted to enter the Capitol building with little resistance from police and security personnel, and one must not look far to see the contrast between the way that people of color are treated in the nation every day.”

ISN goes on to draw from a reflection, “The Racist Attack on the U.S. Capitol,” by Fr. Bryan Massingale, a priest who has long advocated for racial justice in the Church and society (see here for a reflection from Mission in Motion this summer on Massingale’s work).  

For more resources from the Jesuit network that might assist in dialogue about these events, I encourage you to check out this page at the ISN website as well as this toolkit for racial justice produced by the Jesuits West province. 

SCS Dean’s Report Reflects on a Year of a “Community in Dispersion”

This year’s SCS Dean’s Report reflects on the many ways the School realized a “community in dispersion” during a year of challenge and disruption Read more here

This week the School of Continuing Studies released its annual Dean’s Report. The 2020 reflection was framed using a motif from early Jesuit history, “communitas ad dispersionem,” a community in dispersion. This describes the novel ways that Jesuits on mission throughout the world in the 16th Century used the technology of their day, hand-written letters, to stay connected despite the disruptions of distance. At SCS this year, inspired by this example from Jesuit history, we intentionally integrated our Jesuit mission in adaptive ways across the school to meet the challenges presented in 2020. Amidst a global pandemic that forced remote learning and working, SCS discovered new ways of being a community by leveraging technology to maintain connection and a sense of belonging. 

Dean Kelly Otter sums up how SCS lived up to its mission commitment when she writes: 

Despite being physically apart, it was inspiring to see the level of collaboration and connectedness that contributed to ensuring that our standards of education quality were being met while we expanded the modalities of teaching and learning. Students, faculty, and staff alike leaned in on extraordinary levels and created a new kind of community space using technologies and channels like never before…May we continue to embrace that communal spirit and adapt to these unique forms of teaching and learning with the utmost compassion and respect for one another.” 

Vice Dean for Education and Faculty Affairs Shenita Ray reflects on the incredible amount of work and sacrifice demonstrated by SCS faculty and staff to realize this commitment: 

On the whole, I witnessed faculty and staff deepening their commitment to students, to the School, and to the entire Georgetown community. We came together as a united front and heightened our focus, clarity, creativity, determination, and perseverance to ensure the continued success of all SCS students and the learning and teaching enterprise… I feel privileged that I was able to bear witness to extraordinary human qualities that reflect the essence of our Jesuit values and the spirit of Georgetown.” 

A “Community in Dispersion” in an image borrowed from early Jesuit history when the technology of that day, written letters, kept a global community connected.

As we come to the end of a challenging year and prepare ourselves for the journey ahead in 2021, I invite us into a deeper reflection about how this year of community in dispersion has shaped us individually and collectively. 

  • How have you been stretched as a person because of the challenges of 2020? What have you learned about yourself? 
  • What have you learned about the power of community  this year? How has our Georgetown community responded to the challenge? What role have you played in helping build up our community? 
  • What are your hopes and desires for the coming year? In what ways are you seeking to develop (spiritually, emotionally, intellectually, etc) into an even more whole person? 

I wish you a wonderful break and a peaceful holiday. May you experience the blessings and refreshments of this season and return to Georgetown in the new year with a renewed commitment to living out our mission as members of this SCS community. 

Instagram Live Session Explores How Georgetown SCS Integrates Jesuit Mission and Values

 In this week’s Mission in Motion, we highlight a recent Instagram Live session exploring the ways that Jesuit values come alive at Georgetown SCS. Check out the session here https://www.instagram.com/tv/CIjaH0pnMqT/

During these virtual times, Georgetown SCS has used technology and digital tools to foster contact and connection amongst our dispersed community. At Mission in Motion, we’ve highlighted some of these efforts, including a series of SCS Instagram “Takeovers,” which allow members of our community to tell their personal and professional stories by taking over the school’s feed for a day. These day-in-a-life narratives have been fun and informative, giving viewers an intimate sense of how our diverse community is living through these challenging times while pursuing a Georgetown education. In the framework of Ignatian Pedagogy, a set of principles about teaching and learning in the Jesuit tradition, this kind of media invites us into a person’s context. By starting with context, the Instagram Takeovers enable viewers to appreciate the joys, challenges, possibilities, and limitations facing the person behind the camera. For me, these videos have deepened my feelings of gratitude and empathy for our students who continue to balance so much in order to realize their educational aspirations. 

This week, I was excited to participate in an Instagram Live interview with Nicole Thomas, SCS social media marketing manager, who has been creatively guiding the school’s social media presence. In our 15-minute conversation, Nicole posed some critical questions about what makes a Jesuit education unique and what prospective SCS students can expect from their experience of Georgetown’s Jesuit values and mission:

  • How does Georgetown live out its commitments to inter-religious dialogue and supporting a pluralism of religious traditions? 
  • What does it mean exactly to be a Person for Others? How does Georgetown SCS create opportunities for students to serve others and use their education to promote justice and the common good? 
  • In what ways will an education at SCS, grounded in Jesuit values and mission, help me in my career and in my chosen industry? 

I invite you to check out the interview and reach out to me at pjk34@georgetown.edu with any questions. You can learn more about how Georgetown SCS integrates Jesuit values by visiting this page as well as the University’s Office of Mission & Ministry