Shaping the Future: Partnering with Brown Faculty to Engage Students Around the World

The School of Professional Studies (SPS) expands the reach of Brown’s faculty excellence to students beyond the University’s traditional populations.

In 2018, we continued to grow our community of faculty members, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers across campus to create cutting-edge curriculum for executive, undergraduate, and pre-college programs as well as the broader public.

Together with Brown Faculty, we extended learning experiences through the power of digital platforms to remote students, fueling intellectual curiosity, creativity, and the exchange of ideas in our global community of learners.

Our students were inspired and energized by their Brown experiences, and made us proud with their many achievements and efforts to create a more inclusive, inquisitive, and collaborative world.

In 2019, we look forward to expanding our work with Brown Faculty to reach new audiences and increase our collective impact.

Karen Sibley, Ed.D.
Vice President for Strategic Initiatives
Dean of the School of Professional Studies

Brown Executive Master Programs

A Balance of Online and Face-to-Face Learning in
Cybersecurity, Healthcare, Business, and Science & Tech Leadership

At this year’s Commencement, we reached a new milestone with the graduation of 90 executive master students, 10 percent of Brown’s Graduate School Class of 2018. Inaugural cohorts from our two new executive programs, one focused on cybersecurity and the other on science and technology leadership, passed through the Van Wickle Gates alongside cohorts from our healthcare, and business leadership programs.

Heading into 2019, SPS has 123 enrolled executive master students and 310 alumni.

SPS’ executive programs bring mid-career professionals from a wide array of industries into Brown classrooms with faculty from across the campus. These talented rising leaders from both corporate and non-profit fields are eager for the opportunity to learn in a multi-disciplinary liberal arts environment. They thrive in courses like Shared History of Slavery and Capitalism, Psychological Perspectives on Strategic Decision Making, and Healthcare Policy: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. They expand their engagement with Brown through programming such as the annual Executive Summit that brings together our diverse community of faculty, students, and alumni to discover and consider new approaches to leadership in today’s complex world.

To meet the demands of the future of work, professionals must constantly grow and refresh their knowledge and skills throughout their careers. To fulfill this need, our blended online and on-campus programming removes time and location barriers providing access to Brown’s intellectual rigor to professionals around the world. Coupled with critical insights from our Executive Master Advisory Committees that include Fortune 100 executives and industry thought-leaders, we’re enabling multi-national cohorts of students to seamlessly translate new knowledge from the classroom to senior levels of business today.

Learn more about these programs: Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership, Executive Master in CybersecurityExecutive Master in Science and Technology Leadership, and the IE Brown Executive MBA.

Undergraduate Summer Session

SPS enables Brown undergraduate students to take courses to fulfill degree requirements in Summer Session.  By extending the availability of coursework into summer, Brown gives students the opportunity to focus intensively on one or two credit-bearing courses on-campus or online while simultaneously pursuing internships, research, and other educational opportunities around the world.

Summer Session offers a rich selection of courses from across the University in anthropology, visual arts, biology, computer science, neuroscience, language studies and more. Brown departments choose which courses to offer during Summer Session based on concentrators’ needs, and faculty choose whether to teach on-campus or online. New online courses in Summer 2018 included The World of Byzantium (from the Classics Department) and Law and Literature (from the English Department), and a new campus-based course in Cybersecurity Ethics (from the Computer Science Department).

Open Courses: BrownX
Learning for the World

In alignment with Brown’s mission to serve the community, the nation, and the world, SPS launched BrownX and partnered with faculty from a range of disciplines to develop Brown’s first online courses on the edX platform. To date, nearly 20,000 students from over 135 countries have enrolled in the first five courses.

Among the earliest participants in this newly established strategic initiative were faculty who had never taught online. Faculty were excited to discover how a BrownX course allowed for greater distribution of their scholarship, meaningful engagement with a diverse global population beyond Brown’s traditional residential college, and the transfer of pedagogical learnings from their online experience into their other Brown courses.

The first five BrownX courses developed in partnership with the SPS Online Teaching and Innovation team featured faculty from the Department of English, Department of Medicine, Program in Clinical Arts and Humanities, and the School of Engineering.  Courses currently in development feature faculty from the Data Science Initiative and the Executive Master in Cybersecurity.

Discover BrownX Courses

Online Learning at Brown

Scaling Your Content to More Students and New Audiences

This year, SPS advanced Brown’s use of digital platforms to help faculty scale their teaching content across more courses to reach more students. We partnered with 75 faculty who developed and taught 20 undergraduate online courses, 46 executive master courses, 5 BrownX courses, and 17 pre-college courses.

The SPS Online Learning and Innovation Team members are enthusiastic, imaginative educators and multimedia experts working at the forefront of online teaching and learning.  The team includes four instructional designers and six video editors, animators, and producers. Their work received Brown Excellence Awards for two new University endeavors – the launch of BrownX and the FirstYear@Brown online orientation program required for incoming undergraduate students.

The team works with faculty to build digital content and refine their teaching approach for online and blended courses. The results meld faculty mastery and passion for teaching with our proficiency in online pedagogy and learning technology. Faculty are able to reuse online teaching materials in traditional college semester courses on-campus, and across Brown’s online audiences for Summer Session, Winter Session, Executive Masters, and BrownX.

Both students and faculty report high engagement, strong academic rigor, and a sense of personal connection in these courses.

Award Winning, Innovative Work

In 2018, Professor of English James Egan partnered with SPS Instructional Designer Naomi Pariseault to adapt his literature course, Fantastic Places, Unhuman Humans: Exploring Humanity Through Literature, to a global BrownX audience.

Together, they designed an online experience that used elements of game design to engage students in the course narrative and contextualize the learning.

We’re proud to announce that Egan and Pariseault won two awards – Overall Outstanding Use of Gamification for Learning, and Best Use of Surprise and Delight – at Gamicon 2018 for their path-breaking work in the area of gamification and online learning.


Brown Pre-College Programs

Ivy League Academics for Students in grades 8 through 12

This past summer, over 5,000 young students from around the world enjoyed a Brown educational experience in short and intensive programs on-campus, online, or at other locations in the U.S. and Europe.

Brown faculty, postdocs, and graduate students taught in our Pre-College Programs, bringing with them the University’s ethos and passion for rigorous curious learning with over 300 courses aligned with the University’s liberal arts curriculum.

For Brown faculty, an eager audience of young students awaits to try new course material or approaches to subject matter. For postdocs and graduate students, Summer Pre-College programs offer opportunities to hone teaching skills, including spring workshops offered in conjunction with the Sheridan Center to prepare newer teachers in pedagogical principles.

Brown Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives

Our programs share a common commitment to Brown’s Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan. Working with professors across campus, we made a firm commitment in 2018 to advance diversity and inclusion in every aspect of our work, from student recruitment to hiring to curricular enhancement. 

In our pre-college programs:

  • We increased the number of pre-college students from historically underrepresented groups from 764 in 2017 to 923 in 2018 (17.5% of pre-college students).
  • We increased the number of Providence Public School District (PPSD) students enrolled in pre-college programs from 38 in 2017 to 53 in 2018.
  • By increasing the amount of financial aid to $2,350,309, we were able to engage students who would not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in this kind of program.

In our executive programs, we expanded our strategic outreach efforts by partnering and working with organizations such as the Society of Women Engineers, Institute for Diversity and Health Equity, National Society of Black Engineers, Society of Hispanic Engineering Professionals, Latinas in STEM, MAES – Latinos in Science & Engineering, Society for Advancement of Chicanos, Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, and more.

This network helped us successfully recruit a more diverse executive student population. We made particular progress recruiting women in these programs. For example, in the Executive Master of Healthcare Leadership (EMHL) program, women make up 45% of the Class of 2019 versus 28% in the Class of 2018.

In 2018, SPS also had 23 U.S. veterans and active duty military personnel enrolled in our executive master programs. 

In addition to our recruitment efforts, to support Brown’s Pathways to Diversity, we co-designed and delivered diversity and inclusion workshops to help professors create a more student-centered inclusive teaching environment.

The New Home of Brown SPS

In Summer 2019, SPS will move into the new 191,000 square foot Wexford Innovation Center in Providence’s Jewelry District.  With 50,000 square feet of space across two floors, including both state of the art academic and administrative space, 225 Dyer Street will further support the SPS goal to extend Brown’s core mission of teaching and research beyond the traditional campus-based degree programs, providing the highest quality liberal arts education to students of all ages around the world.

We look forward to many new opportunities to help the Brown community engage with emerging developments in our state and beyond through our membership in this entrepreneurial ecosystem which will also house a number of exciting enterprises including the Cambridge Innovation Center, Johnson and Johnson, and District Hall.

We are deeply grateful to the Brown community for all that we accomplished in 2018 and invite you to ring in 2019 with us at our new home to reach new audiences and expand our collective impact.


Interested in joining our mission to expand Brown’s impact? Contact our team here.