The Doyle Engaging Difference Program

Deepening Georgetown's Commitment to Tolerance & Diversity


This annual event creates an opportunity for our larger campus community—including alumni, current students, faculty, and staff—to engage in discussion and conversation about issues of diversity and difference on our campus, in our lives, and around the world.

2018 Doyle Symposium: “Teaching and Learning for Reconciliation”

Friday, March 16, 11:30 AM - 2:00 PM
Social Room, Healey Family Student Center

In 2016, Arturo Sosa, S.J., superior general of the Society of Jesus, named reconciliation as a top priority for Jesuits, stating that reconciliation requires that we “strive for reconciliation between human beings, reconciliation with God and reconciliation with the created world.” As a community of scholars, students, and staff, we continue to address reconciliation related to both historic and current events through Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit mission. This difficult work requires open and frank dialogue on sensitive and challenging topics. The Doyle Program aims to foster and support these conversations across campus.

This year’s Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium will bring together Jesuits, students, faculty, and staff at Georgetown to explore the task of putting reconciliation to work on our campus and in our world. Discussion will be centered on the following questions: How does the pursuit of a just society shape our academic mission? How do our teaching, learning, and research give voice to the mission of reconciliation? How can we mobilize our community’s diverse resources as we strive for peace and equity at Georgetown and beyond? Join us for a panel discussion followed by an audience conversation. Featured Panelists: Dr. Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer (moderator) Deirdre Jonese Austin (SFS’19), Fr. Ludovic Lado, S.J, Dr. Cheryl Suzack, Andrew Walker (SFS’16)

Register for the Symposium here.

2017 Doyle Symposium: “Dialogue for Engaging Across Difference”

As President DeGioia reminded us in a message to the Georgetown community on November 29, 2016, as an institution and as a community, “we will continue to engage in constructive dialogue, maintain our commitment to freedom of speech, and hold each other to the very highest standards of civility and respect.” These commitments may sound different than they did prior to the 2016 election. What does engagement look like when we may find it challenging to recognize the viewpoints of those with whom we disagree; difficult to seek connections where few or none may appear to exist; and nearly impossible to reach greater understanding across differences of opinion, perspective, and identity?

How do we build common ground amid increased polarization? How can we learn to hold constructive dialogue with those whose experiences, identities, and perspectives are not only different from but seem to challenge or threaten our own? This year’s Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium will explore the challenges of fortifying democracy and flourishing amid the turbulence created by the 2016 election. The symposium will bring together a diverse panel of thought leaders to discuss this timely issue, followed by an audience discussion to continue the conversation. Featured Panelists: Rev. Jim Wallis, Dr. Elham Atashi, Dr. Marcia Chatelain, Enushe Khan (MSB ‘17)

2016 Doyle Symposium: “Engaging Diversity, Building Peace, Changing Communities”

On Wednesday, March 30, 2016, the Doyle Engaging Difference Program hosted its seventh annual Doyle Symposium, which focused on the importance of engaging difference and creating inclusive communities in an era of increasing global interconnectedness. This year’s symposium drew nearly 200 students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet offered a keynote reflection on the history and development of the Peace Corps’ intentional engagement with interreligious and intercultural diversity. As Provost Bob Groves highlighted in his introductory remarks, Georgetown has a long-standing connection with the Peace Corps, with 29 Georgetown graduates currently volunteering worldwide and a total of 935 alumni volunteers having served since the agency’s founding in 1961.

Hessler-Radelet opened her remarks noting that there “could not be anything more important in our world today than a discussion of engaging difference and diversity.” An international service organization, the Peace Corps has sent nearly 220,000 volunteers to work in over 140 countries across the globe. Hessler-Radelet shared several stories of Peace Corps volunteers to highlight how they “learn to see the world through their community’s eyes” and are “transformed into global citizens.” Hessler-Radelet emphasized the mission and goals of the Peace Corps, as well as her goal to have the volunteer corps reflect the diversity of the nation. Celebrating diversity and fostering inclusion is a priority for the Peace Corps, evident through an agency-wide focus on diversified recruitment, combatting intolerance through work such as running trainings on Islamophobia, and the establishment of a new Faith Initiative to support volunteers and staff. She emphasized that diversity drives innovation and creativity, and that diverse organizations are more resilient and productive. She challenged the audience to recognize that it can be uncomfortable to engage diversity and it requires real, honest reflection and acceptance of one’s own biases. “Life begins at the end of our comfort zone,” she noted.

Following Hessler-Radelet’s address, Vice President for Global Engagement and Director of the Berkley Center Thomas Banchoff provided additional reflections that emphasized the work of the Doyle Program to support this work here on campus - that engaging with difference “really means listening.” Banchoff sees Georgetown as a “community of discourse” that provides opportunities for reflection, action, and intellectual engagement around themes of difference and diversity.

Executive Director of the Center for New Designs in Learning and Scholarship (CNDLS) Edward Maloney introduced the afternoon’s panel of faculty and students. Maloney also highlighted Georgetown’s role as an international institution that strives to live out the Jesuit ideals of justice and community - whether across the globe or here in efforts on campus. Professor Michelle Ohnona (Women and Gender Studies, a former Doyle Faculty Fellow, CNDLS Faculty Fellow, and the university’s Diversity Requirement Coordinator), served as moderator. Ohnona emphasized her passion for teaching, learning, and pedagogy - noting that the classroom is a “space for transformation.”

Ohnona was joined on the panel by three students: first-year Jasmin Ouseph (SFS ‘19) and seniors Joy Robertson (SFS ’16) and Caitlin Snell (COL ‘16). The students shared their experiences working with diversity on campus and abroad. Ouseph is chair of the Georgetown University Student Association’s Racial and Cultural Inclusivity policy team, a diversity facilitator for Leaders in Education About Diversity, and also serves as an undergraduate representative on the administration’s Working Group on Racial Injustice. Robertson and Snell participated in Doyle student programs -- the Junior Year Abroad Network (JYAN) and the Education and Social Justice Project (ESJ). Both spoke about the impact of those experiences on their perspectives on diversity and culture. Robertson noted the ways studying abroad encouraged her to find more upfront and tangible ways to engage difference on campus, and Snell spoke of the importance of being vulnerable and creating “not just safe spaces, but brave spaces.” The panelists considered how traditional classroom and faculty/student dynamics might need to be transformed as audience questions challenged panelists to think about how difference can be productively recognized and embraced in the classroom.

Concluding with remarks from Michael Kessler, Managing Director of the Berkley Center, this year’s symposium offered a unique blend of global and local perspectives on the importance - and challenges - of engaging diversity in our communities, as well as the meaningful reflections and growth that all can experience when living and engaging intentionally with each other.

2015 Doyle Symposium: “It is Not Enough to Refrain from Injustice”

The annual Doyle Engaging Difference Symposium brings together constituents from across Georgetown University to engage in dialogue about diversity, difference, and understanding on campus, in our lives, and around the world. Past symposia have included presentations from faculty, alumni, and other guest speakers. This year's symposium, held on April 10, created a space for six students to share their ideas on how we can transform our campus into a more engaged and more just community.

In the wake of national events and conversations, President DeGioia noted in his December 10, 2014 address to the Georgetown University community that we as a society are wrestling with a "persistent legacy of segregation, discrimination, inequality: of injustice." He added, quoting Fr. Pedro Arrupe, S.J., that "to be just, it is not enough to refrain from injustice" and subsequently called for the community to "engage in the work of rebuilding the commonweal."

President DeGioia asked us "to identify concrete projects through which, together, we can build for the common good—projects that will enable us to rebuild trust in one another and to justify belief in the principles on which our American democracy was founded." For this year's Doyle Symposium, students took up this challenge and proposed solutions to help address this issue.

Student proposals covered a wide range of topics, but all focused on five unifying themes:

  • Engaging Difference through Co-curricular Opportunities
  • Living Jesuit Values: Engaging Difference through the Lens of Faith and Values
  • Engaging Washington, DC & Connecting Globally
  • Embracing Community: Issues of Diversity and Student Life on Campus
  • Pursuing Excellence: Engaging Difference through the Curriculum

Sophomores Micaela Beltran and Lilyan Tay explored what it would look like to practically apply Georgetown's Jesuit values in a DC neighborhood. Focusing on building relationships with community, Micaela explained the need for students to participate in community service that goes beyond participatory action. They proposed a program in which selected students and a chaplain live in 'Hoya House' and serve the needs of the community. Through this experience, students gain important skills in leadership and community engagement.

The second student who shared remarks was Katherine Potocka, who discussed the benefits of task sharing to alleviate and lessen the stigmatization of mental health issues. This particular subject is of notable importance due to the increasing number of students experiencing mental health issues in the U.S. Katherine explained that task sharing, a peer-to-peer sharing process, is an effective proven method to help support those experiencing mental health issues. Georgetown can take proactive measures to lessen the stigmatization of mental health issues and encouraging a greater acceptance of difference in our community by supporting this approach to mental health treatment.

Following Katherine's presentation, Davika Panjan spoke about the arts, and its unique ability to encourage acceptance. Specifically, Davika purported the use of disturbance art to shake-up the Georgetown community and renew an appreciation for the arts among peers. Its capacity to remove barriers between people spurs many to use this medium to highlight social injustice. This project introduces multiple defined art space around campus and serves to highlight the diversity, both in culture and creativity, among the Georgetown community.

Winning the Jury Prize this year, Esther Owolabi and Esi Ozemebhoya's proposal highlights the need for curricular reform to address the absence of required discussion on the topic of diversity and difference. The two seniors discussed the ways in which power and privilege shape participation in today's world and called on Georgetown faculty to review the current classroom-based dialogue surrounding this issue. Esther and Esi brought to light how this component fulfills Georgetown's goal of providing students with a holistic education. Furthermore, given the high percentage of students who go on to serve their communities in positions of public life, this component gives Georgetown men and women the theoretical knowledge and practical ability to challenge this cultural discourse in the future.

Two additional proposal were given honorable mention during the Symposium; Anela Malik who researched educational gaps among underrepresented groups, and Spencer Crawford who analyzed how Georgetown engages difference and diversity in community through its Jesuit identity.

An inspiring debate took place after the students presented their projects, reflecting a genuine interest in tackling difference and diversity in our community, and offering practical ways in which we can implement these ideas in the future.

Thank you to all who attended the 2015 Doyle Symposium, and congratulations to the students who presented their projects. With U.S. culture changing so rapidly and the heightened awareness of our country's legacy of segregation, discrimination, and inequality, it is especially important that Georgetown University offers its students and faculty spaces to dialogue about these important issues.

2014 Doyle Symposium Brief

On April 15, 2014, students, alumni, faculty and staff gathered together with Provost Bob Groves and Vice Provost Randy Bass to discuss how best to bring deeper encounters with diversity into Georgetown's core curriculum. The conversation built on last year’s symposium exploring the Jesuit roots of Georgetown’s educational program, and was designed in response to ongoing conversations about diversity and attention to diversity on campus. Participants considered and evaluated concrete goals and strategies for ensuring that students encounter different experiences and perspectives within the Georgetown community and in the world beyond the Hilltop.

The Provost began the conversation by detailing the background that led to the university’s present efforts. “Georgetown is committed to selecting and cultivating students who will go on to be global leaders, and in today’s world that means leaders who are comfortable and confident working with people from numerous backgrounds and across significant cultural differences.” He pointed out that while everyone comes to Georgetown from a specific environment, all of us are multi-dimensional human beings. This means diversity is something we have in common. Nevertheless, when we arrive at Georgetown, we come to a location with a particular culture. “We need more than just demographic diversity; rather, we need to ensure that Georgetown’s culture is one that allows all of us in our rich diversity to flourish.” He related that several months previous an important segment of our student population candidly pointed out to the administration that we have significant work to do in order to make this ideal a reality. The Provost concluded by expressing the administration’s commitment to this goal.

Building off of the Provost’s address, Randy Bass noted the importance of structural, institutional, and curricular diversity at Georgetown. Highlighting curricular diversity, he endorsed UC Santa Barbara’s statement that “A university expresses its most basic values in its core curriculum.” The question then, is how do we ensure that our core curriculum reflects our goals with respect to diversity? Additionally, he focused on knowledge, skills, and dispositions and the ways that these three dynamically interact. “People argue that you can’t teach dispositions - though you can work to cultivate them. If it’s something that is cultivated, how do we best foster dispositions for positively relating to diversity here at Georgetown? And what are the specific practices or locations where this is most likely to take place?” Relating his research with alumni to represent the locations where formative experiences occur, he noted that no one draws pictures of lecture halls. Instead they draw pictures of tables and chairs - sites where formative dialogue takes place.

In addition to comments by the Provost and Vice Provost, responses were delivered by Lauren Reese (alumni ’12), Seun Oyewole (SFS ’14), and Sherry Linkon (faculty, SFS).

Lauren noted some of the powerful opportunities for exploring diversity, reflecting on identity, and participating in difficult but formative dialogue at Georgetown, beginning with her experience in the Young Leader in Education About Diversity program. There were also frustrations - including her observation that conversations like the one taking place at the Symposium are not new, which raises concerns about their overall efficacy. She concluded with her hopes that the concrete curricular changes under discussions will lead to sustainable change.

Seun noted both positive experiences vis-a-vis diversity at Georgetown as well as a growing awareness that more is needed. This is particularly true with regard to students clustering together in homogenous groups. More opportunities are needed that bring students together. Of particular note were his experiences working with Georgetown’s Aspiring Minority Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs.

Sherry Linkon drew on her experience leading an interdisciplinary team of eight faculty members at Young State University over the course of two years to design a required course on diversity. From this she offered a series of tensions that need careful consideration and balance: constructive intra- and inter-group dialogue, complexity and coherence, scale and intimacy, and action and sustainability. She expressed the critical importance of navigating each of these tensions without losing any of them.

In the wake of these comments, Randy led participants through a series of exercises reflecting on, evaluating, and discussing nine draft goals for engaging diversity that will inform the university’s working group for revising the core curriculum. This rich discussion likewise included an opportunity for participants to share the locations and practices at Georgetown that have been central to their own engagements with diversity, in order to ensure that Georgetown builds on its strengths.

This year’s symposium allowed participants an inside view into current changes underway with regard to diversity at Georgetown. It also served as a platform for animated dialogue and constructive criticism of some of those changes. In addition to providing this opportunity for participants, this event will directly impact decisions that will shape Georgetown University as it moves into the 21st century.

2013 Doyle Symposium Brief

On February 14, 2013, students, faculty, staff and alumni gathered for the fourth annual Doyle Symposium to examine how the university’s engagement with difference and diversity could make Georgetown’s liberal arts education even more effective. The symposium fostered discussion and reflection on several salient questions: What does a 21st-century liberal arts education look like, and what does it mean to engage difference in this context? What opportunities and challenges exist, and how do we best prepare students for them? What can we learn from Georgetown’s Jesuit heritage? How might new technologies reshape and inspire us to rethink more traditional educational practices in the liberal arts? How can study abroad programs best promote intercultural competence?

The symposium began with a plenary panel composed of Berkley Center Director Thomas Banchoff, Professor John W. O’Malley, SJ (Theology), and Associate Dean Dennis Williams. The panel looked backward and forward as it examined the Jesuit roots underpinning Georgetown’s commitment to engaging difference and facilitated conversation on how that heritage plays out today in liberal education for a global era. Discussion also centered on transitioning student reactions from surprise to engagement when confronted with diversity outlets on campus, as well as how to incentivize greater faculty involvement.

The second panel featured Associate Provost Randy Bass, Soliya founder Lucas Welch, and Shavonnia Corbin-Johnson (SFS ’14) and focused on the power of new communications technologies, specifically the Soliya Project, to encourage intercultural engagement by connecting students from around the world. Panelist Lucas Welch described, ““It’s not about new technology, but about pushing people to connect directly with diversity through technology.” It was noted that success in intercultural dialogue has to be marked by more than the mere connection of people; rather, technology must be harnessed in ways that push us toward meaningful discussions of difference.

The symposium closed with a look at the Georgetown Junior Year Abroad experience and the Berkley Center’s Junior Year Abroad Network (JYAN) with Professor Michael Kessler (Berkley Center), Nicole Fleury (SFS ‘14), and Audrey Wilson (SFS ‘14). Highlighting the increasingly robust exchange system at Georgetown, their panel considered how the rich study abroad experience can shape and deepen student engagement with issues of intercultural and interreligious understanding. As panelist Audrey Wilson observed, ”Once in an unfamiliar country, you are unable to tune out the cultural experiences.” Panelists also emphasized the critical need to integrate students directly into families and other elements of the local community.

The inspiring conversations among the panelists and audience members reflected deep interest in issues of difference and engagement with diversity at Georgetown. They also showed that positive engagement with these issues is not a matter of mere contact or tolerance. In addition to utilizing the tools of a 21st century university to create spaces for interaction, we must actively cultivate a positive culture of diversity. The Doyle Symposium helps foster this culture by connecting various people and programs across the university that are involved in this important work.

2012 Doyle Symposium Brief

The third annual Doyle Symposium on Engaging Difference began with a panel discussion among three distinguished Georgetown University alumni – Maria Gomez (N’77), president and CEO of Mary’s Center for Maternal and Child Care; Jamal Epps (C’01), Executive Director of OTC Derivatives for JPMorgan Chase; and Jess Rimington (SFS’09), Executive Director and founder of One World Youth Project. The dialogue for the panel centered on a discussion of education and diversity in the 21st century, and each panelist also shared his/her thoughts on engaging difference, building relationships, and cultivating empathy and understanding in the professional world.

Gomez discussed the general diversity of the staff and clientele of Mary’s Center and highlighted the importance of openness and honesty when creating and developing professional relationships. Her commitment to serving patients across backgrounds throughout the D.C. community, remarked Gomez, has helped build a network of trust around her organization. Epps spoke to a similar sentiment when he noted that his openness to collaborate and ability to build partnerships across his company has been a catalyst in his career. Epps also shared his belief that companies that do not attempt to build dialogues around the engagement of difference are likely to fall behind those which do. Rimington addressed the issue of diversity education when she discussed the need to think about global competency and cultural exchange in educating for and engaging with diversity. She stressed her belief that not all people are born with an innate sense of human connectivity and that the skills for engaging diversity productively can be teachable.

The panel was followed by a discussion session in which audience members, including students and former Doyle Program Faculty Fellows, voiced their thoughts on the techniques that might be developed to create a “toolbox” of hard skills for diversity education.

After the Symposium, the endowment celebration continued with a reception which included remarks from Dean of the College Chet Gillis, Faculty Fellow representative Ricardo Ortíz, Student Fellow representative Colin Steele, and President of Georgetown University, Jack DeGioia. A special video presentation also contributed to honoring the Doyles and their permanent endowment of the Doyle Engaging Difference Program.

2011 Doyle Symposium Brief

The second annual Doyle Student-Alumni Symposium on Engaging Difference featured a panel discussion among Caleb Pitters (SFS ’97), an alumnus who works on Wall Street, and two Doyle faculty fellows, Yulia Chentsova Dutton (Psychology) and Ricardo Ortíz (English). This year’s symposium on April 1st drew over 70 students, faculty and staff who joined the panelists in a lively and engaging conversation about the role that issues of diversity play in both professional and pedagogical practice.

Pitters, a Cuban-American, reflected on his experiences at Georgetown and throughout his career. He highlighted the importance of acknowledging differences (such as differences of race, class, and religion) while at the same time establishing commonalities with others. For example, he shared a story about a mentor with whom he appeared to have nothing in common until discovering that they shared a diligent work ethic. Pitters pointed out that learning to engage with people of all backgrounds will serve students well in their professional careers in today’s increasingly diverse workplaces.

Chentsova Dutton shared her viewpoint from the field of cultural psychology, and Ortíz spoke from his perspective as an immigrant who works in the field of ethnic studies. Students and faculty in the audience asked questions about a variety of related topics, such as the role of older undergraduate students in the Georgetown community.

2010 Doyle Symposium Brief

On Friday, April 30, 2010, Georgetown welcomed over 50 faculty, students, staff, and alumni to the first annual Symposium on Engaging Difference. The day featured a morning student- alumni discussion with two notable Georgetown alumni, Damien Dwin (MSB ‘97) and Brian Rafferty (CAS ‘79). Dwin and Rafferty spoke about their professional experiences and how they address issues of difference and diversity in their careers. Both drew on their experiences at Georgetown and their many years in international business environments when talking about what has shaped their perspective.

Dwin and Rafferty both spoke about the importance that empathy plays in being able to traverse diverse situations and environments. Dwin reflected that “…No matter how empathetic I think I am, I need to try harder every single day….It’s not that you’re making excuses for people. It’s that you actually try to feel, experience, and see the world through their eyes without expectations, because expectations… often lead to resentments.” Rafferty added “[Empathy] is a real practical mean. This is not only rewarding, the right thing to do, keeps us from wanting to kill each other, but it really means success. If you want to get somewhere—whether it’s make money, do good, increase the pool of knowledge—you have to learn how to collaborate.” In the ensuing, wide-ranging discussion, participants not only pressed for more reflections from Dwin and Rafferty about issues they’ve faced since leaving Georgetown, but also debated how classroom experiences might prepare current students to face similar issues after they leave Georgetown.

In addition to the morning session, the symposium included a lunch gathering to recognize current and new Doyle Faculty Fellows and share summaries of the work done by this year’s faculty fellows and the Doyle Undergraduate Fellows working with faculty at the Berkley Center. The inaugural Doyle Symposium on Engaging Difference set a model for future conversation among students, faculty, and alumni. In 2011, the project will again seek to bring alumni who are national or global leaders from business, government, or the professions to campus to discuss how they have engaged difference in their careers and their organizations.