The Engelhard Project, a Georgetown program that incorporates health and wellness issues into the classroom, celebrated its 10th anniversary this month. The project encourages in-class project-based academic explorations into the issue of student wellness, which has proven extremely relevant to Georgetown’s stress-laden environment. More professors should incorporate the Engelhard curriculum and values to create a university environment that cohesively promotes wellness in its multiple dimensions.
The current 19 Engelhard classes, ranging from “Immigrant Ethnography” to “Foundations in Biology,” provide an excellent forum for students to create a personal connection with wellness in unique, seemingly disconnected contexts. For instance, Sarah Stiles’ course on social entrepreneurship requires a commitment to a personal wellness routine, physical or mental, where students set goals for themselves. Although not explicitly connected to build social enterprises, the exercise is useful in creating balanced, well-rested leaders and students who can effectively contribute to such organizations.
Moreover, there are profound potential social benefits of universitywide curricula that promote a dialogue on well-being. Immersing themselves in topics like stress, community well-being and sleep deprivation allows students to form lasting perspectives on how to live the ideal of cura personalis. In-depth research into a culture of wellness creates advocates for broad change, or at least a better-informed population that can help itself in to reform a stress-centric society.
Engelhard should be expanded. More introductory courses should field an Engelhard component, like reflective exercises that help students cope with dense material or even group meditation exercises, so that students receive exposure to the topics early and often. The expansion does not necessarily have to confine itself within a course. Perhaps there is an opportunity to create capstone courses that specifically deal with Engelhard issues — for instance, senior theses in psychology that can deal with topics of wellness.
Outside the classroom, an emphasis on activities that work in tandem with Engelhard topics can be beneficial. Field work in the broader Washington, D.C., community on wellness-related topics can be powerful and interesting extracurricular initiatives. Students can partner with existing wellness organizations, like Hoya Health Hut, or create new ones that affiliate themselves with similar goals to the Engelhard Project.