Overview Of Mason Impact

  • Bethany Usher George Mason University
  • Jesse Guessford George Mason University


Location: Dewberry Hall

Mason faculty have an impact on our students, and help our students have an impact in the world. Mason Impact is George Mason University's commitment to offer every student transformative learning experiences. Mason Impact offers opportunities to all students designed to develop problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills, and preparing them to make a positive impact in the world. Mason Impact is grounded in an education that explores how knowledge is created and used, investigates local and global challenges from multiple perspectives, and helps students develop relevant questions. Mason Impact Projects allow students to use inquiry methods to answer their questions and learn to communicate their results. These experiences are transformative; students are introduced to a more complicated and interesting world in which they can have an impact. Mason Impact offers experiences and projects in Global Education, Civic Engagement, Research, and Entrepreneurship. Students who successfully complete Mason Impact projects and/or participate in study abroad earn special transcript notations highlighting their experiences. Scholarship underpins Mason Impact. The value of these experiences for students is that they ground their experience what we teach and they learn in the classroom: knowledge, intellectual processes, and practical tools. They then apply what they learn in Mason Impact Projects: mentored opportunities to test making an impact in the world through research and inquiry, civic engagement, and entrepreneurship. These courses and experiences should be transformative and mind-blowing as they move beyond their own personal history and see the world as a more complicated, more nuanced, and more interesting than they have before. Students rarely make this intellectual leap by themselves, teachers and mentors are critical in this process. We, as educators, have many ways to offer this Mason Impact. Our students participate in the scholarly work of the community, conducting research or producing creative works. Students can study abroad, over a semester or even a week or two, encouraged to situate what they are learning in classes in a global perspective. Other students may see how entrepreneurs interpret challenges and design creative (and perhaps lucrative) solutions or products. Some students will get involved in the local or regional community or government, seeing differences that were invisible before. For some students, "quieter" forms of engagement and reflection will produce this understanding, participating in conversations in class, reading new authors, designing costumes, solving statistical problems. Mentoring Mason Impact projects can take many forms. Most students will complete Mason Impact projects in courses, either traditionally courses, or ones specifically designed to involve students in projects and problems you are passionate about. Faculty can teach existing or newly-designed courses with an integrated project. You can propose a Summer Impact Team Project and recruit interested students. Faculty can support students through OSCAR's URSP or the MIX's MSEA or GEO's Global Praxis. Research Assistants can complete projects. In this session, we'll outline Mason Impact, describe existing opportunities for faculty to get involved, and brainstorm additional support for faculty.

Author Biography

Bethany Usher, George Mason University

Dr. Bethany M. Usher, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education , takes students to graveyards - she is a biological anthropologist who studies the health and social structure of past communities by investigating their cemeteries. She is passionate about getting students to apply their classroom experiences and learn how exciting it is to tackle intellectual challenges. Since 2017, Dr. Usher has overseen Mason's undergraduate curriculum, including the Mason Core (general education), and academic programs through the Undergraduate Council and Curriculum Impact Grants. Currently, she is developing the Mason Impact experiential learning initiative, starting the process of re-designing the Mason Core, and reorganizing student advising and planning through academic themes.

4:15pm-5:30pm POSTER SESSION (Group B- 4:45-5:15pm)