Course Profiles

The following courses exemplify the rich variety of ways that Engelhard faculty fellows and health professionals are collaborating to bring well-being topics into the classroom across the Georgetown campus.

Introduction to Biblical Literature

Alan Mitchell, Theology

Well-being topics: relationships and friendships

In this course on Biblical Literature, Alan Mitchell explores his students’ experiences of friendship as a means to shaping a healthy social identity and encourages them to consider how friendship can act both as a bond and as a barrier.

Students not only reflect on wellness and friendship with a new perspective, but they are also able to see the connections between their own lives and those they are studying in the Biblical texts.

Biology of Global Health

Anne Rosenwald, Biology

Well-being topics: stress caused by serious illness

Since 2008, Anne Rosenwald has been teaching Biology of Global Health, a sophomore-level gateway course for the Biology of Global Health major, as an Engelhard course. In the design and implementation of her course, Rosenwald embodies the Jesuit principle of cura personalis, or care of the whole person, a key goal of the Engelhard Project.

To help her students examine the complex issues surrounding the treatment of terminally ill patients, Anne Rosenwald (Biology) creates a safe space for discussion, presents multiple views through guest speakers and readings, and encourages students to share personal experiences. She begins each semester by inviting bioethicist Father Kevin FitzGerald (GUMC) to lead a discussion challenging students’ definitions of “health.” In the spring of 2015, Rosenwald invited a panel, including a psychiatrist and a chaplain, to discuss hope and its role in treatment. “Many students have experience with death, and they always think they’re the only ones. The class becomes a safe place where students can talk about these issues,” explains Rosenwald. One student noted that “many of my peers revealed their personal experiences with a dying loved one, which brought the conversation to a human level I had not experienced in a classroom setting before.” This in turn helps students understand the material: “[T]he Engelhard aspect [of the course] helped connect the sometimes abstract topics in class with real-world dilemmas,” explained another student. Anne Rosenwald teaches her Biology of Global Health course both as a serious scientist and as a caring professor. One student summed it up simply: “While the class itself has forced me to think as a scientist, the Engelhard portion of the class has forced me to think as a human being.”

Immigrant Ethnography

Betsi Stephen, School of Foreign Service

Well-being topics: immigration and mental health

Betsi Stephen’s students partner with local junior high and high school students born in other countries to document their immigrant experiences.

To prepare them for this community-based learning experience, her students study the effect of immigration on adolescent mental health with a Georgetown campus health professional. The reflective writing of this Engelhard course helps students to find points of connection between their own adolescent experiences and those of the younger immigrant students with whom they work.

Foundations in Biology

Heidi Elmendorf, Biology

Well-being topics: genetic relationship to mental health issues

Heidi Elmendorf personalizes her large introductory course by sharing her own experience with depression and incorporating a conversation with Director of Counseling and Psychiatric Services (CAPS), Phil Meilman.

She then administers an anonymous student survey about mental health, which students further explore in an online discussion format. Inspired and empowered by the discussion, each student chooses a topic for an independent research paper, connecting academic content to issues that they or their peers have experienced. With this meaningful assignment, Elemendorf hopes to help students “gain a sense of comfort as a community” and to provide them with “unexpected resources for coping.”

Community Psychology

Jen Woolard, Psychology

Well-being topics: stress and coping, sexual assault, community well-being

Jen Woolard (Psychology) has been teaching Community Psychology as an Engelhard course since the program’s inception in 2005.

As she explains, community psychologists “combine theory, research, and action to promote health and prevent problems in communities, groups, and individuals.” To prepare students to analyze unfamiliar communities, Woolard challenges students to map their own social support networks and reflect on each network’s breadth, depth, and accessibility. Through Engelhard, she also hopes to teach her students about resources in the GU community available to support their own health.

Introduction to Math Modeling

Jim Sandefur, Mathematics

Well-being topics: substance abuse and addiction, healthy relationships with food and exercise

In his class on math modeling, Jim Sandefur incorporates data sets involving nutrition, gambling, and alcohol.

As he explains, “the Engelhard Project fit right into what I have always wanted to do. For years, I had been looking for engaging models that were important to the students, where they could see math as it affected their lives.” Partnering with campus health staff has deepened Sandefur’s understanding of these issues and has equipped him to help students who were struggling, while pushing all of the students to think about their actions in new ways. Sandefur has consistently noticed that his students not only understand the math better, but enjoy it more. By demonstrating concrete ways to use new math skills, the course extends beyond the classroom walls into the students’ personal lives.

Health Promotion and Disease Prevention

Joan Riley, Human Science

Well-being topics: community health promotion, campus resources

What began as a student project in an Engelhard course on Health Promotion and Disease Prevention has turned into a fixture of campus life, the Georgetown Campus Farmer's Market.

As part of an assignment for Joan Riley’s Health Promotion and Disease Prevention course in the School of Nursing and Health Studies, students were asked to develop a proposal for a health promotion activity for Georgetown’s campus. Students Bre Donald (NHS ’12) and Melissa Gadsden (NHS ’12) created the idea for a weekly campus farmers market with the goals of making fresh, locally-grown produce more accessible to GU students, helping to educate students about healthy eating, and connecting campus life to the broader Georgetown and DC community. Donald and Gadsden’s excitement for their concept drove them to pursue their project beyond the completion of the course. Following conversations and collaboration with various campus offices and administrators, they were able to implement their idea on a trial basis starting in April 2011. The Farmers Market was very well received and has now become a weekly event on campus during the fall and spring market seasons. Each Wednesday draws dozens of faculty, staff, and students to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, organic produce samples, cooking demonstrations and local food stands.

First Year Health Studies Colloquium

Joan Riley, Human Science

Well-being topics: adjustment, stress, and coping, life transitions, de-stigmatizing and normalizing life struggles

The Health Studies Colloquium provides all new students in the School of Nursing and Health Studies with an overview of the many personal and academic opportunities available to them at Georgetown.

Joan Riley and other Engelhard Faculty Fellows have further strengthened the first-year student experience by weaving health and wellness themes into the course. One of the most powerful Engelhard components is a collaboration with Georgetown Staff Psychologist Afshin Nili. Using an anonymous survey, students answer questions about the issues they are grappling with at Georgetown, such as being away from home for the first time and fitting in. Class discussion of the survey responses with advice and ideas from Dr. Nili normalizes students’ struggles in a powerful way. As one student noted: “Through this class, I found out many things about myself and was able to make changes that will benefit me for the next four years, and probably even beyond.”

Introduction to Ethics

Karen Stohr, Philosophy

Well-being topics: friendships, sexual relationships and sexual violence, alcohol and substance abuse, bystander intervention

Karen Stohr has taught Introduction to Ethics, a large lecture course, as an Engelhard course since 2010. Stohr wants her students to see “how ethics can help them live their lives better and make their community and their world better.” She also sees Engelhard as a tool for better learning. As she puts it, “I do [Engelhard] because I think they learn Kant better.”

In a unit on community ethics, Stohr assigns readings by Immanuel Kant that raise moral problems with drunkenness and sexual objectification. Stohr then asks her students to reflect on what it takes to be fully self-respecting and fully respecting of others in the context of social life at Georgetown. Through assigned readings and a guest lecture by Jen Schweer, Associate Director for Sexual Assault Response and Prevention Services at Health Education Services (HES), Stohr brings campus life into the classroom. Through the Engelhard Project, Stohr transforms her large lecture class into a more personal experience so her students see the relevance of ethics in their own lives.

Synaptic Transmission

Kathleen Maguire-Zeiss, Neuroscience

Well-being topics: sleep deprivation

In this advanced neurobiology course, students connect the molecular and clinical aspects of sleep deprivation to their own sleep experiences.

The clinical expertise of CAPS psychiatrists Hallie Lightdale and Sonja Lillrank helps students understand the importance of good sleep habits and how to recognize when sleep deprivation is a problem. By exploring this universal issue through an academic lens, Maguire-Zeiss creates a meaningful learning experience while also introducing students to key resources on campus.

Theatre as Social Change

Natsu Onoda Power and Carol Day, Performing Arts, Human Science

Well-being topics: drugs and alcohol, depression and suicidality, stress and coping, sexuality, support systems, friends and community

In Theatre as Social Change, Georgetown students work with an after-school group of Ballou High School students to develop, write, and perform a high school play.

As part of the coursework in Theatre as Social Change, taught by Natsu Onoda Power (Performing Arts) and Carol Day (Human Science), Georgetown students work with an after-school group of Ballou High School students to develop, write, and perform a high school play. One of the underlying goals of this collaboration is to explore ways to use the performance as a platform to discuss and explore solutions to social issues that concern the high school student community. In past semesters, the plays have included such issues as depression, suicidality, substance abuse, and homophobia along with many forms of peer pressure the Ballou students face. Professors Onoda Power and Day use the course meeting time to explore the theories and concepts of performance art as social activism as well as to support the Georgetown students in their multiple roles within the course. Georgetown students, while still being students themselves, are also taking on roles as mentors, co-collaborators, peers, instructors, and guests. The Engelhard aspect of this course creates the structure and space for students to reflect on and process their experiences in the community, seek out support when necessary, and further strengthen an already powerful learning experience.


Pablo Irusta, Human Science

Well-being topics: infectious diseases, campus resources

Pablo Irusta teaches Immunology as an Engelhard course because he believes it allows him to connect with his students on a deeper intellectual level.

“Learning how cells and molecules protect us during an infection becomes more meaningful when students consider the socioeconomic, behavioral, and public health factors that frame life on and around campus,” he explains. Discussing their own health and well-being also helps students see how the science they study affects their own lives and those of the people around them.

Management and Organizational Behavior

Robert Bies, Business

Well-being topics: identity, inclusion, and organizational cultures

For the Engelhard component of Management and Organizational Behavior, Robert Bies asks students to view the film The Great Debaters and invites Georgetown Staff Psychologist John Wright to co-facilitate a post-film discussion.

The discussion encourages students to critically examine lessons learned from the civil rights era in the U.S. and to look at how these lessons might apply to creating healthy organizations and companies. The discussion contributes to Bies’s course goals to help students “understand their moral purpose as global business leaders and make a difference in the lives of others.”

Social Entrepreneurship

Sarah Stiles, Sociology

Well-being topics: wellness as a lifestyle

In her Engelhard course on Social Entrepeneurship, Sarah Stiles (Sociology) asks her students to commit to a personal wellness routine for the semester.

In order to help her students learn to apply theories of social change and to see social entrepeneurship as a lifestyle, Engelhard Faculty Fellow Sarah Stiles asks her students to commit to a personal wellness routine—both physical and mental—during the semester. Students partner with one another as “accountability buddies” and keep journals of their progress toward their wellness goals. Additionally, students collaborate with local organizations to undertake social entrepreneurial projects, engage with real problems in the D.C. community, and apply course strategies with an eye to creating systemic and sustainable change. The students’ course experience is deeply shaped by connecting these various aspects of their lives within a single course framework. As one student put it, “this course has been able to make connections and educate me about things that no other course has been able to do [and] made me draw on all aspects of my educational experience.”

Introduction to Sociology

Sarah Stiles, Sociology

Well-being topics: identity, stigma, and social inequality

Sarah Stiles introduces her students to the concept of deviance, the pyscho-social impact of being different and treating people differently. They learn that deviance can mean a slight variation from the norm, and that the stigma that goes along with it can be extremely burdensome.

Engelhard Health Professional Dr. John Wright (CAPS) takes students through varying scenarios of hypothetical Georgetown students who feel different in some way and describes the impact that the Georgetown culture can have on someone who feels outside the norm. Throughout this process, students become aware of perspectives they may not have previously considered, and those students who may identify with the hypothetical characters find courage to participate in the discussion.

Human Growth and Development

Sarah Vittone, Nursing

Well-being topics: resilience, coping and self-forgiveness in young adults

By bringing in Georgetown Staff Psychologist John Wright to discuss the topics of resilience and self-forgiveness, Sarah Vittone emphasizes to her students that these are necessary components of human development.

The reflective writing required in every Engelhard course gives Vittone an opportunity to ask her students about their ability to cope with the stresses of college life. She finds that this reflective exercise helps students to pause and see themselves in what they are learning, creating more connection between course concepts and their own lives. She hopes that the stress-relieving techniques introduced in class help students to handle both their academic workload and their clinical work with patients.

Art of the Monologue

Susan Lynskey, Performing Arts

Well-being topics: mindfulness

Susan Lynskey’s course on the Art of the Monologue focuses on monologue as a universal activity and an expression of individual identity.

As part of the course, students explore the practice of mindfulness during a ten-minute reflective period held at the beginning of each class. Together with her Engelhard Health Professional, Psychologist Matthew Schottland, Lynskey encourages deeper conversation about the practice of mindfulness and the ways in which students can invite it into their everyday lives.

Abnormal Psychology

Yulia Chentsova Dutton, Psychology

Well-being topics: stress management

“Taking theory out to play” is Chentsova Dutton’s phrase for assignments that ask students to try out some of the more complex course concepts on themselves.

For example, during a unit on stress management, she asks her students to observe and catalog their patterns of negative thoughts and examine the impact of reframing these ideas using positive thought formulation techniques. She also invites Tim Casey from Georgetown’s John Main Center for Meditation and Inter-religious Dialogue to lead students through a group meditation exercise. Chentsova Dutton believes that the Engelhard components of her class help make difficult concepts and theories more applicable and more easily understood by students.