A program to allow students to spend a semester living and working downtown while earning academic credit for their work will launch in fall 2019, in an effort to allow students to explore the intersection of their academic and professional interests.
The Georgetown University living-learning program, called Capitol Applied Learning Lab, will focus on maximizing students’ immersion in their internships by enabling them to dedicate hours each day to working and living in downtown Washington, D.C.
The program seeks to address the reality that many internships in government and public policy are unpaid and not all students can afford to take an unpaid summer internship, according to Vice Provost of Education Randall Bass.
“It’s very much so driven by a sense of equity and the desire that every Georgetown student deserves the opportunity to have a high impact, integrative internship experience as part of their education,” Bass said in an interview with The Hoya.
CALL aims to offer internships in various fields, but the first semester will focus on those in government, public policy and potentially health care systems, according to Bass.
“We absolutely hope that within a year or two that we have internships and students downtown from every possible major and interest,” Bass said. “We are very interested in developing the full range of internships.”
To balance the work students do at their internships during the day, students involved in CALL will take complementary academic courses online or in person at night. Students will take 12 to 15 credits using a combination of course options, according to Bass, including a foundational course for students to reflect on what they learn from the internship, a set of courses related to the high-level skills needed for internships and courses targeting professional development skills. Students will also receive housing in the downtown area near their internships.
CALL will open doors to students who in the past have not been able to take on these internships and allow them to intern during the school year while obtaining academic credit, according to Leslie Telleria (COL ’21), who works with the Designing the Future(s) Initiative on its involvement with the project.
“It’s important because looking at the students who are left out from this kind of internship experience, especially for unpaid internships, it’s unfair. It pushes students who can’t afford to have an unpaid internship to push that aside,” Telleria said in an interview with The Hoya. “This is really going to be successful in allowing more students to get the experience that is so valuable to figuring out what their career is going to look like.”
Though housing will initially be through existing residences in the district, CALL hopes to enrich the experience in the future by having its own residential living in the area, according to Bass. Georgetown is pushing to expand its presence close to the Georgetown University Law Center to create what will be known as the Capitol Campus.
“In the first couple of years, we are developing an agreement with another residence that is near there, but we would hope that within a few years, Georgetown itself will have some kind of residential hall or dorm that will be within a few blocks of the Capitol Campus,” Bass said.
The majority of students in CALL will intern at locations whose work aligns with their major or minor, but the program acknowledges that a student’s academic interests may not directly align with their career goals, Bass said.
“This allows the internship to be a place where students really can explore one potential context for where they would like to work, to really understand what kinds of skills and training are needed to advance in a particular sector,” Bass said. “It’s really an opportunity to help students use the semester to deepen their own sense of purpose and career direction.”
Though there is no limit on the number of students who will be selected for the program in its first semester, CALL expects to accept 25 to 30 students its first year, with plans to expand that number as the program is further developed. Currently, an expression of interest form is open, and formal applications will likely go live in January, according to Bass.
CALL will enable students to expand their reach and explore the greater D.C. area, according to associate teaching professor of English Matthew Pavesich, co-developer of CALL’s curriculum.
“We use the phrase ‘break the bubble’ a lot, and this is one of the most muscular ways that we can do so, specifically in the sense that we want to integrate the students’ learning with their experiences outside of the Georgetown bubble,” Pavesich said.