The SFS Academic Council established a Map of the Modern World working group about two weeks ago, a move that followed earlier recommendations put forth in the council’s report on this year’s changes to the School of Foreign Service’s core requirement.
James Reardon-Anderson, senior associate dean and director of undergraduate programs in the SFS, introduced an overhaul of the Map of the Modern World course this academic year, modeling the course on the syllabus he followed when he taught the course at SFS-Qatar, and thereby shifting the course’s emphasis to the influence of physical and environmental factors on human, social and political organization.
According to Drew Peterson (SFS ’10), chairman of the working group, “[the SFSAC’s] report recommended the creation of a standing review panel for the purpose of examining the changes and how they fit into the broader context of an undergraduate education in the SFS.”
Peterson said that the initial report came in part as a result of students’ concerns regarding the changes to the course, which was formerly taught by Keith Hrebenak, professional lecturer in the SFS.
The working group represents efforts to gather student opinions on the new course, which will later be considered in conjunction with the viewpoints of administrators, professors, alumni and other members of the Georgetown community. The student members include three current SFS undergraduates as well as two SFS alumni.
“The working group is, in that respect, aimed at giving a voice to the community that has had the most exposure to geography education at Georgetown and has the greatest stake in its quality – the students,” Peterson said. “Alumni also provide a compelling perspective because they have the wisdom of hindsight and can offer understanding of how the education they received in Map has served them in their lives after graduation.”
The working group is currently in its first phase, in which its members are to review the syllabus and course materials, attend classes and gather reflections on the course from students, teaching assistants and others associated with the course in order to synthesize these sources into individual evaluations.
According to Peterson, the working group will hold its first meeting in April to integrate the panelists’ independent findings into a unified assessment of the new Map course. The working group will then meet with the course’s teaching assistants and then again with Dean Reardon-Anderson and potentially additional administrators. Upon completion of the meetings, the working group will publicize its conclusions and recommendations concerning the future of Map of the Modern World.
The student members of the working group include Peterson, Carlos Hernandez (SFS ’11), a member of The Hoya’s Board of Directors, and Kimberly Fernandes (SFS ’11). Frank Vargas (SFS ’06), a former TA and currently an emergency logistics planner at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and Parag Khanna (SFS ’99), a fellow at the New America Foundation, comprise the alumni segment of the group.