Into Practice Issues

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Encouraging equity through engaged scholarship

Flavia PeréaFlavia Peréa, Lecturer in Sociology (FAS) and Director of the Mindich Program in Engaged Scholarship, teaches Pursuing Truth and Justice: Principles and Methods of Equity Through Inquiry. This course aims to be “an example of what equity and inclusion can look like in the curriculum” both through the topics covered—for example, liberatory research methods, oppression, and structural injustice— and by supporting students “to be able to think about messy things, put out hard questions, and really wrangle with ‘what does it even mean for me as a student at Harvard to be doing this work’?”  

Transferring best practices across teaching modes

Aisha YousafzaiAisha Yousafzai, Associate Professor of Global Health, launched the Early Childhood Development: Global Strategies for Implementation HarvardX course in 2021. This self-paced, asynchronous course is designed for practitioners of public health to learn about program and policy development and has enrolled over 31,000 students. Yousafzai has taught a range of course formats during her time at Harvard: residential, hybrid, online, and now an asynchronous HarvardX course. Each course type “requires its own thought process about the right pedagogy,” but Yousafzai believes that careful consideration of the various strategies available for each course and what works has enriched the learning environment across her courses. 

Cultivating a convivial academic setting

Janet GyatsoJanet Gyatso, Hershey Professor of Buddhist Studies, teaches seminars on Buddhist and Tibetan intellectual history and literature at Harvard Divinity School and in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Gyatso aims to “cultivate an experimental and convivial atmosphere in the classroom” that encourages students to draw connections between the past and present, interrogate a diverse set of primary sources, and create a community that allows students to feel comfortable taking intellectual risks and asking questions. This is particularly important in her field, which is often unfamiliar and engages with historical contexts that may seem distant from contemporary issues. Gyatso inspires her students to draw connections between the literature, philosophy, religion, and arts of the past and contemporary conversations on topics ranging from identity to gender to climate. By encouraging students to ask questions and find links between past and present, Gyatso is able to help them find an entryway into otherwise unfamiliar topics.

Collaboration with the Harvard Art Museums

Kaighin McCollKaighin McColl, Assistant Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences and of Environmental Science and Engineering, is a hydrologist who extended his General Education course, Water and the Environment, beyond the science to include artistic representations of the impact that water has had on human life across time. After connecting with the Harvard Art Museums (HAM) at the Bok Center’s August 2019 Course Design Institute, McColl began collaborating with curators in 2020 to broaden the course, make it more engaging to a general audience, and challenge students to view the concepts learned in class in a different domain. He notes that he’s “a complete rookie when it comes to art,” but that HAM curators have been “very enthusiastic and helpful” figuring out ways to integrate the Museums’ collections into his course.

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