Students in Japanese art and architecture courses taught by Yukio Lippit, Professor of History of Art and Architecture, often encounter cultures quite different from their own. Lippit immerses them in those cultures through deep engagement with material artifacts, by examining roof tiles or carpentry, visiting the Japanese house at the Boston Children’s Museum, or participating in a tea ceremony.
Scott Edwards, Professor of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology and Curator of Ornithology in the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), makes extensive use of the museum’s ornithology collections in his courses and brings specimens into his lecture sessions to engage students in close analysis during weekly three-hour labs. Edwards models “ways of making meaning” by looking to specimens as key evidence for testing claims and theories.
James Hanken, Professor of Biology and Director of the Museum of Comparative Zoology (MCZ), increases student engagement by taking students out of the traditional classroom. Whether organizing his freshman seminar around weekly excursions to Harvard’s museums, or guiding a spring break field trip to Costa Rica for undergraduates enrolled in OEB 167 Herpetology, these immersive experiences “provide opportunities for students to see and understand things they simply won’t get in the classroom.”
The benefits: While Hanken favors the traditional lecture for certain material, field trips expose students to people and ideas unavailable in the classroom setting, like interviewing museum directors about the challenges of curation and exhibit administration. The field exposure in Costa Rica, a trip largely sponsored by the MCZ, gives students an understanding of animals as living organisms, not just static entities—an immersive experience "we are uniquely qualified to offer."... Read more about Engaging students via field trips, near and far
A collaborative investigation into the nature of visitor learning at the Harvard Art Museums revealed that museum study centers provide active learning opportunities not only through interaction with the objects, but also through engagement with the museum staff and other visitors, as well as...
Racha Kirakosian, Assistant Professor of German and of Religion, selected works of art for an installation at the Harvard Art Museums for students in her freshman seminar, Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Finding Justice and Truth in the Middle Ages. She planned three visits—one to introduce the works depicting justice and truth in the University Study Gallery, another for student presentations of assigned objects, and a final Art Study Center session where students debated their personal definitions of justice. “I like the parallel of moving into different physical spaces as we move from historical cases and medieval law texts to more abstract concepts.”