Intensive August Session

This fall Georgetown is launching a new option for first-year students within the fall semester: an array of courses offered intensively and virtually in August. Interested students may enroll in one of these August courses, fulfilling a requirement in the Core Curriculum and jumpstarting your Georgetown experience. 

The Intensive August Session hosts courses in our core curriculum in an intensive, online format in August, leading up to New Student Orientation. These courses are designed to provide rich intellectual foundations in a core subject, build intentional community, and orient new students to Georgetown’s academic culture. The August Session is part of the fall semester, and involves no additional cost. Students may take one August Session course, completing most of the work in advance of the fall schedule, allowing for the balance of four from September to December. The August Session course will then continue through the fall term, but with a much lighter footprint to maintain the course community, and allow time for the extended work of the semester.

What’s in it for you?

  • BALANCE. We encourage all new students to build time into their fall schedules for depth and reflection. The August Session front-loads the work of one course, creating more breathing room after NSO for your other courses.
  • BEARINGS. Orient yourself to your new academic environment, focusing on a single class at the onset.
  • COMMUNITY. Meet new friends, form a tight community right away, and launch your intellectual exploration as a small cohort!
  • NO ADDITIONAL COST. These courses are part of the fall semester, and as such they incur no additional tuition charges or fees.
  • WHY WAIT until the end of August?

All August courses will meet from Monday, August 3 to Thursday, August 20, FOUR days a week, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. Specific “AUGUST” times are listed by section.

Each course continues at a lighter pace through the fall semester with a brief weekly meeting, “AFTER NSO” times listed by section.

Please contact your advising dean if you have questions about these options and how they might fit into your overall plans.

PHIL-010-12, Intro to Ethics

Professor Sherry Kao

AUGUST: MTWR 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Mondays 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

This course explores some controversial moral issues such as abortion, immigration, gun control, voting, etc. To enrich students’ understanding of these issues, we will first examine the main moral theories and then apply them to the issues at hand. Open-minded and civilized discussions will be encouraged in class, so that students may develop the ability to actively formulate and evaluate arguments, and this will, in turn, help them come to their own considered judgments about moral issues.

PHIL-010-13, Intro to Ethics

Professor Sherry Kao

AUGUST: MTWR 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Mondays 2:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

This course explores some controversial moral issues such as abortion, immigration, gun control, voting, etc. To enrich students’ understanding of these issues, we will first examine the main moral theories and then apply them to the issues at hand. Open-minded and civilized discussions will be encouraged in class, so that students may develop the ability to actively formulate and evaluate arguments, and this will, in turn, help them come to their own considered judgments about moral issues.

PHIL-020-16, Intro to Philosophy: Philosophy of Reparations

Professor Olufemi Taiwo

AUGUST: MTWR 9:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

AFTER NSO: Wednesdays 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

In this course, we will discuss the topic of reparations, especially (though not exclusively) in dialogue with the specific case for reparations for trans-Atlantic slavery and the associated colonialism on the African continent and throughout the African diaspora. Reparations, and moral repair generally construed, are a kind of act that aims to respond to historical harms or injustices. They are a particularly interesting subject from the standpoint of ethical and political philosophy, in that they complicate, challenge, and (hopefully, ultimately) clarify central concepts in these aspects of philosophy, including responsibility, harm, restitution, and welfare. Our philosophical aim will be to clarify what political and moral relationships are at stake in issues like these, how they can be damaged and what it takes to repair them. These aims, with any luck, will support each other.

THEO-001-01, The Problem of God

Professor Diane Yeager

AUGUST: MTWR 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Wednesdays 10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

“If you think you have grasped God, it is not God you have grasped.” For that reason, St. Augustine went on to insist on intellectual and personal humility as the proper foundation for inquiry. Augustine did not argue that we can know nothing about God, but rather that “knowing” a presence that overshadows the human mind requires an inner journey that has little in common with “knowing about” this or that feature of the created world that lies arrayed before investigative reason. It is that other path that we will explore.

Four texts, deeply read, form the heart of this course: The Plague, a novel by Albert Camus; the autobiographical Why Religion? by Elaine Pagels; the autobiographical “Letter from a Region of My Mind” by James Baldwin; and The Embers and the Stars, by Erazim Kohák, a book that is hard to classify but takes form where ecological concerns align with the philosophy of religion. Despite the variation in genres, each constitutes a searching credo—the author’s “I believe.” Their differences are pronounced: complex and variable in their understanding of religious traditions and communities, two work within a recognizable (though innovative) religious framework while the other two utterly distrust the religious tradition they know best. Careful reading will disclose their shared determination to live truthfully and meaningfully at (in Kohák’s words) “the intersection of time and eternity.” Listening thoughtfully, empathetically, and deeply to these voices and the stories they tell, we will responsively cultivate distinctive voices of our own.

The class will emphasize collaboration and active engagement.  Rather than fighting for control of unruly circumstances in a time of experimentation and transition, we will embrace improvisation as a way of organizing a flexible, personal, and constructive approach to responsive learning.

THEO-001-09, The Problem of God

Professor Theresa Sanders

AUGUST: MTWR 5:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Thursdays 10:00 a.m. – 10:50 a.m.

This course examines the religious dimension of human experience. It focuses especially on questions about the existence and nature of God but also on such issues as the problem of evil and the challenge of religious diversity. Careful reading and writing are stressed.

THEO-001-14, The Problem of God

Professor Frederick Ruf

AUGUST: MTWR 4:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Mondays 2:00 p.m. – 2:50 p.m.

William James describes religion as a way of “fronting life.” What he means is that religions provide humans with orientation in their lives by telling them who they are, where they are, and where they are going. Clearly, being religious is not just a matter of being Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu. This course pays particular attention to non-religious religion, to the ways in which aspects of ordinary, seemingly secular existence provide humans with religious orientation. We examine two important understandings of religion, those of Mircea Eliade and Paul Tillich, and a study of popular Catholicism, as well as consider crucial religious issues such as the nature of God, human individuality and sociality, the difference between religious theory and practice, and the importance of ritual, myth, space, time, and particular (“sacred”) objects. We will also concentrate on the “implicit religion” that is spread throughout culture, rather than on the world religions.

THEO-001-19, The Problem of God

Professor Beverly Goines

AUGUST: MTWR 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

AFTER NSO: Tuesday 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

This course explores ritual, sociological, anthropological, psychological, phenomenological, feminist, historical, ecological, post-structural, and postcolonial, studies to understand how these methods/theories shape our perception of religious phenomena. The course has two objectives: 1) to evaluate contemporary religious theory with special attention to questions of definition, function, and application, and 2) to provide the analytical skills that allow students to critically analyze religious practices and theological beliefs, while supporting the student’s ability to develop their own informed theological and religious positions.

Course Goals:

  • To introduce students to religious inquiry
  • To explore the relationship between religion, faith, and theology
  • To introduce students to the theories of significant religious and theological thinkers
  • To examine current religious trends in the public square in light of the theories of the religious and theological thinkers presented in class

THEO-001-21, The Problem of God

Professor Rosanne Morici

AUGUST: MTWR 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Friday 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

This course examines a variety of “Problems of God” that arise at the intersection of theology and power. We will explore discourses on God (ways of imagining and representing God) that are at the same time expressions of power (ways of imposing and opposing power). Our study will be grounded in specific historical and cultural moments both ancient and modern in which theological engagement was implicated in the politics of suffering and memory; gender and the body; violence and non-violence; race and love.

THEO-001-30, The Problem of God

Professor Luke O’Connell

AUGUST: MTWR 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Thursdays 4:00 p.m. – 4:50 p.m.

This course will introduce students to questions about the existence and nature of God, and the theological issues that arise in a religiously pluralistic environment. The course will begin by engaging with the human condition of religious diversity and its implications for the relationship between God and the human person. We will attempt to trace themes of the presence and absence of God, proofs of the existence of God, theological observations on the good life and suffering, revelation and the use of language and metaphor in attempting to disclose truth and meaning about God. Religious identity and experience in times of emotional crisis, death, and other trauma. The course explores the lived experience of the student through the theological lens, and units designed to identify the relationship between religious experience and well-being.

THEO-001-31, The Problem of God

Professor Alphonso Saville

AUGUST: MTWR 11:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

AFTER. NSO: Mondays 11:00 a.m. – 11:50 a.m.

In 1838, faced with rising debt from capital improvements and also declining profitability of their farms in Maryland and Pennsylvania, Jesuit leaders at Georgetown College made the decision to rid themselves of the burden of slave owning by selling 272 enslaved people to plantations in Louisiana. This course investigates the history of American religion and slavery during the colonial period through the first half of the nineteenth century by examining theological, ethical, and philosophical justifications for and against slavery and the slave trade. Our study aims to uncover how debates on slavery shaped and informed theological discussions about the nature of God, religious experience, public life and social justice. Course readings will include selections from the Georgetown Slavery Archives, and also selections from Musgroves’ Chocolate City; Murphy’s Jesuit Slaveholding in Maryland; Babb’s Black Georgetown Remembered; additional primary readings may include selections from Ball’s Slavery in the United States; Pennington’s The Fugitive Blacksmith; and Northrup’s Twelve Years a Slave.

WRIT-015-12, Writing and Culture

Professor Katy Goodman

AUGUST: MTWR 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Thursdays 8:00 a.m. – 8:50 a.m. 

On the surface, social media promises connection: a tool that lets us communicate across physical, cultural, and generational divides. In practice however, it’s much more complicated. This semester, you’ll hone your critical reading and writing skills by diving into those complications. We’ll unpack what happens when a new form of communication springs up within the space of a single generation – with a specific focus on the challenges and problems social media has brought. We’ll think about how we navigate these social spaces, and how our behavior and identity differs across different digital spaces, as well as how it compares to how we present ourselves in the physical world. Just as importantly, I’ll be challenging us to think about why those differences matter, and what they mean for us as citizens (and, for some of us) future designers and gatekeepers of the ever-expanding digital world.

WRIT-015-15, Writing and Culture

Professor Laura Hartmann-Villalta

AUGUST: MTWR 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Tuesdays 6:45 p.m. – 7:35 p.m.

Visual/Textual Lives In this course, we will investigate the tension between the visual and the textual when it comes to representing the self and others. Students will work through a number of writing projects in different genres – some more textually based, some more visually striking – in order to explore how the self is represented in different modalities. The genres we will study include (but are not limited to) memoir, advertisements (TV commercials and print), biography, documentary, scholarly articles, poetry, and posters. Students will be required to write short responses (both prepared in advance and in-class), craft longer projects, perform peer review, and deliver oral presentations of their work.

WRIT-015-21, Writing. and Culture

Professor Philip Sandick

AUGUST: MTWR 12:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Tuesday 12:30 p.m. – 1:20 p.m.

When it comes to “the writing process” itself, inventiveness is still often thought to occur early and in isolation from other people. Think of the “a-ha moment” or the light bulb’s sudden flash. In this writing and culture seminar, we will disrupt that idea. We begin by joining collaborative writing workshops and developing our skills as readers, both of published writing and the works-in-progress of your peers. In addition to three longer writing assignments in various genres and modes, we will also compose shorter writing and speaking assignments in response to readings and other prompts. Readings will cover topics in and around: failure, mindset, grit, literary epiphanies, podcasting, storytelling, inspirational appeals, narrative theory, remix, new media composing, and the self-help and personal development industries.

WRIT-015-26, Writing and Culture

Professor Karen Shaup

AUGUST: MTWR 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

AFTER NSO: Tuesdays 9:30 a.m. – 10:20 a.m.

The purpose of this course is to practice writing and to reflect on writing practices. Throughout the semester, we will examine how writing works by reading various texts in different genres and by working on four distinct but interrelated compositions. Our readings will concern the writing process, including texts that define writing as assemblage, remix, and translation. This class is based on the following ideas about writing:

  • Writing is a form of inquiry. We can use writing to discover and to formulate new ideas.
  • Writing is a form of critical thinking, and critical thinking requires creativity, imagination, and resilience.
  • Writing is social. Our writing is an attempt to address, move, persuade, inform, or share with others.
  • Writing is rhetorical; what we write and how we write is shaped by the context, genre expectations, purpose, and audience of our writing situation. Writing situations are never identical, although we can draw on prior experiences to navigate new writing situations.
  • Writing is a form of rewriting. That is, writing is a process that involves revision and tinkering, and writing is also a way of recomposing our own thoughts or someone else’s thoughts.
  • Writing is a form of expression. We can practice using language – as well as images and sounds in multimodal compositions – to create an effect.

As this list suggests, writing is not one thing, and it can also function in quite different ways depending on our goals and purposes! Throughout the semester, we will explore and reflect on these ideas about writing. I will ask you to take an active role in adding to our understanding of what writing is. What’s missing from this list?