“Jesuit Values in Professional Practice” Course Embraces a Community in Dispersion

Since 2016, the School of Continuing Studies has annually offered degree-seeking students in the Master of Professional Studies and Liberal Studies programs a unique course opportunity to deeply engage with both their own personal values and the values that animate the mission of Georgetown University. The course, “Jesuit Values in Professional Practice,” has become a popular offering among SCS students and satisfies degree plans as a free elective. 

MPS-Human Resources alum Rashada Jenkins speaking in past offering of the “Jesuit Values in Professional Practice” course. The course will be offered for the fifth this fall semester in a remote format.

With the help of Georgetown’s Center for Social Justice Research, Teaching & Service, the class is designed as Community-Based Learning (CBL) so that students take on direct work with a community-based organization addressing identified needs of marginalized persons and communities in the DC area. This community service outside of the classroom provides students with data for ongoing individual and group reflections that sustain the 15-week course.

Diverse learning activities in the class include presentations by officials responsible for advancing Jesuit mission and values in their work at Georgetown and beyond, regular individual and group reflection, and learning materials that make the Jesuits’ 500-year old tradition come alive for contemporary professionals. The class is open to and welcomes students of all faith traditions or no faith tradition at all, utilizing a “whole person” approach to education that considers the intellectual, professional, moral, and spiritual aspects of human development. 

As “Jesuit Values in Professional Practice” enters its fifth fall semester, the course will be delivered this year in a remote format. The CBL requirement will also become virtual for students, who can serve in community-based organizations with opportunities for such virtual service coordinated by the Center for Social Justice (an example of how the CSJ has already promoted these remote service possibilities for students can be found here and here). We can embrace and adapt to virtual forms of teaching and learning consistent with the spirit of a “community in dispersion,” a concept that arises out of the early Jesuits’ history of “remaining intimately connected through the technology” of the day in spite of their own disruptions and separations. 

Fr. Matthew Carnes S.J., associate professor in Georgetown’s Department of Government and Walsh School of Foreign Service and past presenter in the SCS course, describes more fully the uniquely Jesuit contribution to the motif of a “community in dispersion” here

Photograph of Bishop Mark Seitz of the Diocese of El Paso participating in a Black Lives Matter protest. The SCS Jesuit Values course explores pressing issues of social justice and invites students to develop a plan of action to serve justice and the common good in their professional lives.  

Given the social challenges facing our communities at the intersection of the  COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racial injustice, the course’s objective to help students “identify ways to serve justice and the common good in both a professional and personal context” is particularly relevant today. I have found that students tend to enjoy the class because of the extended opportunity it provides for guided and structured discernment about developing one’s personal mission and values as a professional. I have also found that students at SCS enjoy the interdisciplinary nature of the learning and the occasion for engaging with students outside of their professional disciplines and degree programs. 

More than any advertisement, perspectives from course alumni testify to the curricular value. Here is a sampling of what past students have had to say about the class: 

  • “I finally understand what makes Jesuit spirituality unique. It is a spirituality that is externalized, that actively shapes one’s choices and actions, it is contemplation in action, being people for others and aspiring for the Magis (the more).” 
  • “The speakers who moved me the most had journeyed deeply inside their humanity and touched mine.” 
  • “CBL truly opened my eyes to the ways people dedicate their time to fight for justice everyday. I enjoyed serving those in need and getting to know them and their stories. It was an experience that I will carry on into my own work and life.” 
  • “I learned the foundational aspects of Jesuit values and caring for the whole person. In working to develop a right relationship with all, I learned much about Jesuit spirituality in practice and about the process of accompanying, serving, reflecting on data, researching, communicating and raising awareness in order to transform the life of another, one person at a time.” 

Degree-seeking students with questions about “LSHV 480: CBL Jesuit Values in Professional Practice” (CRN: 31553, meets Thursdays at 5:20 pm in the fall) should reach out to course instructor and Associate Director for Mission Integration, Jamie Kralovec (pjk34@georgetown.edu)