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Off the beaten path

March 1, 2021 | aqidxjti | No Comments

first_imgMany of the items might not even be maps, strictly speaking. As an example, research librarian Joseph Garver points to an early 18th century chart depicting the rise and fall of various empires as streams in a “river of time.”“Certainly, this is not a geographical map,” Garver said. “It’s a chronological map. For cartographers, it was an interesting challenge to portray the passage of time, because, in a way, it’s representing space as well. By tracing the various empires, they were illustrating how long it lasted, and the territorial expanse it covered as well.”The exhibition was inspired, Garver said, by requests for unusual items.“From time to time, patrons come in asking for items that don’t fit into the old Badger system,” he said. “That prompts me to take out one of the folders to see what is in it, and it’s always fascinating material.”“Rev. Badger’s Misfits: Deviations and Diversions” will be on display in the Harvard Map Collection in Pusey Library through Jan. 5. When he set out to develop the first classification system for maps, the Rev. Henry Clay Badger, Harvard Map Collection curator from 1889 to 1892, used geographical categories — continents, nations, regions, cities, and so on.  Though the system worked well, challenges remained. How would maps of fictional or imaginary places be classified? Where would maps of timelines and genealogical tables fit?A new exhibition, “Rev. Badger’s Misfits: Deviations and Diversions,” opening today (Sept. 8) at the Harvard Map Collection, asks viewers to consider some of these “cartographic curiosities.” Among the exhibition highlights is a 1730 German map portraying human vices as separate kingdoms, with Latin names such as Magni Stomachi Imperium, or the Empire of the Big Stomachs, and Litigonia, or Land of the Litigious. Town names are in idiomatic German. The land of the drunkards contains towns such as Stolpen (Stumble), Schlampen (Guzzle), Hundsrausch (Dog Drunk), and Schickihnheim (Send Him Home).Other items in the exhibition include a facsimile of Sebastian Adams’ “chronological chart of ancient, modern and biblical history” — a 24-foot-long timeline running from 4004 B.C. to 1881 — and an 1834 map satirizing Dutch university life, in which students must pass through the Mountains of Mathematics before entering nations representing scholarly disciplines such as philosophy, medicine, and literature.last_img read more

Leslie Valiant wins Turing Award

March 1, 2021 | mrhtxubs | No Comments

first_imgThe Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) today (March 9) named Leslie G. Valiant the winner of the 2010 ACM A.M. Turing Award for his fundamental contributions to the development of computational learning theory and to the broader theory of computer science.Valiant, the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), brought together machine learning and computational complexity, leading to advances in artificial intelligence as well as computing practices such as natural language processing, handwriting recognition, and computer vision. He also launched several subfields of theoretical computer science, and developed models for parallel computing.The Turing Award, widely considered the “Nobel Prize in Computing,” is named for the British mathematician Alan M. Turing. The award carries a $250,000 prize, with financial support provided by Intel Corp. and Google Inc.“Leslie Valiant’s accomplishments over the last 30 years have provided the theoretical basis for progress in artificial intelligence and led to extraordinary achievements in machine learning,” said ACM President Alain Chesnais. “His work has produced modeling that offers computationally inspired answers on fundamental questions like how the brain ‘computes.’“His profound insights in computer science, mathematics, and cognitive theory have been combined with other techniques to build modern forms of machine learning and communication, like IBM’s ‘Watson’ computing system, that have enabled computing systems to rival a human’s ability to answer questions,” Chesnais said.Valiant’s “Theory of the Learnable,” published in 1984 in Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, is considered one of the seminal contributions to machine learning. It put machine learning on a sound mathematical footing and laid the foundations for a new research area known as computational learning theory.“Google joins in recognizing Leslie Valiant for his profound impact on the computer science research landscape,” said Alfred Spector ’76, vice president of Research and Special Initiatives at Google Inc. “His ingenious concepts and original research have significantly influenced the way computers learn, with applications in medicine, transportation, finance, telecommunications, image processing, game theory, and strategic planning, to name a few.”One of Valiant’s key contributions to computational complexity was his work on enumeration problems. Its impact was to show the inherent difficulty in counting the number of solutions not just to computationally hard problems, but also to those whose decision complexity is relatively “easy.”“Les Valiant is known by researchers the world over for his revolutionary contributions to theoretical computer science,” said Michael D. Smith, dean of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the John H. Finley Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “His work has reoriented this entire field in recent decades, single-handedly creating or transforming any number of key research areas. Les is clearly deserving of the Turing Award.”“From the first inklings of artificial intelligence to the early days of the ARPANET to the personal computer revolution and social networking, Harvard students, faculty, and alumni have been a driving force behind innovations in computer science,” added Cherry A. Murray, dean of SEAS and John A. and Elizabeth S. Armstrong Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Les Valiant is yet another pioneer in this remarkable tradition.”More recently, Valiant has contributed to computational neuroscience, offering a concrete mathematical model of the brain and relating its architecture to complex cognitive functions.  In his 1994 book “Circuits of the Mind,” he details a promising new computational approach to studying the intricate workings of the human brain.  The book focuses on the brain’s ability to quickly access a massive store of accumulated information during reasoning processes despite the extreme constraints imposed by its finite number of neurons, their limited speed of communication, and their restricted interconnectivity.  The book offered a new approach to brain science for students and researchers in computer science, neurobiology, neurosciences, artificial intelligence, and cognitive science.“Les Valiant stands out for having essentially initiated multiple research areas within computer science,” says Michael Mitzenmacher, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science at Harvard. “Learning theory, the complexity of counting solutions, the bulk-synchronous parallel model of computation, and holographic algorithms are just some of his outstanding contributions.  He is a truly profound thinker who has never feared bringing the power of theoretical computer science to entirely new areas, and he and his work have taught and inspired a generation of scholars.”Michael Rabin, Thomas J. Watson Sr. Professor of Computer Science at SEAS, won the Turing Award in 1976, and three SEAS-affiliated alumni have also been bestowed with the honor: E. Allen Emerson ’81; Richard M. Karp ’55, ’59; and Frederick P. Brooks Jr. ’56.To read the full release.last_img read more

first_imgCAMBRIDGE, Mass. (April 4, 2011) — Harvard University announced today (April 4) that Wynton Marsalis will launch a two-year performance and lecture series on April 28, with an appearance at Sanders Theatre. Currently the Artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis is an accomplished musician, composer, bandleader and educator who has made the promotion of jazz and cultural literacy his hallmark causes.“Wynton Marsalis is both an internationally acclaimed musician and a leader in educating people about the importance of arts and culture,” Harvard President Drew Faust said. “We are fortunate to have an artist and performer of his caliber on campus to enhance the University’s vibrant arts scene and engage our students, staff and faculty.”Throughout the ages, artists have been truth tellers for civilization; they speak about the essence of their society in ways that others cannot or will not. Marsalis will visit campus several times, for two to three days at a time, over the next two years, lecturing on a variety of topics to illuminate the relationship between American music and the American identity. His talks will be punctuated with performances by dancers, Marsalis’ quintet and other ensembles, including a New Orleans parade band and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.His lecture/performance on April 28 is titled “Music as Metaphor” and will feature Ali Jackson (drums), Dan Nimmer (piano), Walter Blanding Jr. (tenor sax), Carlos Henriquez (bass), James Chirillo (guitar and banjo) and Mark O’Connor (violin). The following day, Marsalis will teach a master class to high school musicians at Cambridge Rindge and Latin School.Marsalis’ appointment is the latest example of the University’s closer embrace of the arts since a presidential task force called in 2008 for a concerted effort to increase the presence of the arts on campus.“I am delighted that Harvard has recognized the need to make cultural literacy an integral part of its curriculum,” Marsalis said. “I hope that other institutions will follow suit to foster a deeper appreciation among all Americans for the democratic victory of our cultural legacy.”Since 2008, there has been a renewed focus on bringing prominent artists to campus who can engage students and the wider community in the kind of imaginative and innovative thinking that is central to the cognitive life of the University. For example, renowned large-scale artist Krzysztof Wodiczko now teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, while this semester Tony-nominated Diane Paulus, Artistic Director for the Harvard University American Repertory Theater, is teaching “Porgy and Bess: Performance in Context” at Harvard College.  Last year, Harvard announced that the Silk Road Project, founded by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, would move its headquarters to Harvard. And this fall, renowned choreographer Liz Lerman, MacArthur grant recipient and founder of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, will be a Visiting Lecturer in residence at Harvard.A native of New Orleans, Marsalis is one of America’s most highly decorated cultural figures. In addition to nine Grammy awards, he was the first jazz musician to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music. His numerous international accolades include: an Honorary Membership in Britain’s Royal Academy of Music, the highest decoration for a non-British citizen, and the insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction.  He has more than 70 albums to his credit, which have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. Wynton Marsalis is also the world’s first jazz artist to perform and compose across the full spectrum of jazz: from its New Orleans roots to bebop and modern jazz. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, and tap dance to ballet, Marsalis has expanded the vocabulary of jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers. Harvard awarded him an honorary doctorate in music in 2009.Tickets for Marsalis’ lecture performance at Sanders Theatre will be free of charge, and will become available for the Harvard community on Tuesday, April 12, and to the general public on Thursday, April 14. Information on obtaining tickets can be found at http://ofa.fas.harvard.edu/boxoffice/.Contact: Tania deLuzuriaga, Harvard Public Affairs & Communications, 617.495.1585, tania_deluzuriaga@harvard.edulast_img read more

Art of the ‘Divine’

March 1, 2021 | zelepmlo | No Comments

first_imgWhen Dante Alighieri wrote his epic poem the “Divine Comedy” early in the 14th century, most Europeans believed in the literal truth of his three realms of the dead:  hell, purgatory, and heaven.Those three still play a metaphorical role and often accurately describe modern reality, from the hellish to the heavenly.Recently, Dante’s realms found one new life in “The Divine Comedy,” a three-part exhibit at Harvard through May 17, a joint project by the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) and the Harvard Art Museums. The exhibit plays with the notion that the three have parallels in the present-day concepts of history, mind, and cosmos.History: Outside the Northwest Science Building on Oxford Street is a dramatic reminder that this field is sometimes hell. “Untitled” is a warren of nine towering cubes hung with 5,335 identical backpacks. Each one, with its muted checkerboard of greens and grays, represents a schoolchild killed during the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, China. The backpacks are lined up like tombstones, and give off a smell of wet cloth. The artist, Ai Weiwei, organized the investigation that found the names of victims in 150 schools in 74 towns.Mind: At Gund Hall, “Three to Now” by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson displays 54 “experiment-machines” that challenge viewers to investigate the science of seeing — how the mind perceives the real world, and sometimes interprets it as art. Viewers peer into mirrors, globes, peepholes, and even a mesmerizing swirl of dark liquid. The Gund Hall exhibit could be an homage to Dante. His poetic purgatory, a realm where crimes of the mind are punished, explored the science of his time, including the movement of the sun, a spherical Earth, and time zones.Cosmos: Down the street, on a third-floor terrace of the Sert Gallery in the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Dante’s heaven is on display. “Cloud City,” tethered by 10 guy wires, is a whimsical, 14-sided inflatable device designed by Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno, who is famous for his evocation of habitat platforms that float free and defiant just above the Earth. The buoyancy and silvery look of the Harvard installation recall Dante’s paradise, which the poet conceived as a realm of soul-opening celestial spheres.“It’s a utopian vision,” said Dan Borelli, sitting near the tethered sphere. “It’s about speculation, uplift, happiness.” He called it a perfect foil to the grim message of Weiwei’s stolid walls of backpacks, with their echo of tragedy.Borelli is director of exhibits at the GSD, where he is also enrolled as a master’s degree student. He was in charge of the logistics behind the tripartite installation. That included studying average wind speeds on Quincy Street before Saraceno’s air-filled ball could be safely inflated. “Cloud City,” 7 meters across with an outer shell of wind-surfer plastic, weighs only 180 pounds. But its ballast is 10 tons of boxed sand and steel plate.Inside the sphere, solar panels collect sunlight during the day and power tiny LED lights at night. “They’re like dragonflies in there,” said Borelli. If things work out, “Cloud City” will be launched, tethered, over Cambridge. That would open a conversation about the ownership of “civilian space,” he said, the layer of air between the ground and federal air space.“The Divine Comedy” has metaphorical impact, but it also represents a new walking tour of Harvard, said Borelli — one that alters, if temporarily, the familiar “psychogeography of the campus,” displacing old sightlines with new.In the late afternoon of April 8, Borelli walked into Gund Hall, where Eliasson’s array of experiment-machines had attracted a milling crowd for the GSD’s annual open house. The exhibit challenges the idea that the visual can be adequately framed as in a picture, he said. “The world comes in as bits of information. We create the whole in our minds.”Happily, the crowd had a place to go with questions, — a 5 p.m. artists’ panel discussion in Piper Auditorium, which soon had a standing-room-only crowd. On stage was Eliasson, Saraceno, and exhibition curator Sanford Kwinter, a GSD professor of architectural theory and criticism. Weiwei is under detention in his homeland.“We have a huge amount to learn from artists,” said GSD Dean Mohsen Mostafavi, introducing the panel. Their brand of social activism, he said, is a constant goad to those who design physical environments.Both artists trained as architects and accepted the idea that art can inform design — and even science itself, challenging convention in fruitful ways.Art can help to break the boundaries between disciplines, said Saraceno, which is all the more important in an age when vast, complex problems such as climate change need answers that go beyond technology into the realms of the social and the spiritual. “The work of the artist,” he said, “is to acknowledge the unknown, the ignorance we have.”Not long ago, “artists were clowns,” said Eliasson. But now they seem to command respect again in serious public discourse, since the complex difficulties of the modern world “call for alternative ways of seeing.”Are walls of knapsacks, silvery floating orbs, and basins of swirling black water simply physical realities? “The whole idea,” said Eliasson, “is that you are in some sort of emotional contract with the world.”last_img read more

Making an art of science

March 1, 2021 | rfunaawx | No Comments

first_imgEditor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.For Kevin Shee, a lifelong love of dancing and four years of intense focus on that art won’t end with his graduation from Harvard this spring. It will take a back seat, though, to a newer love: that of a scientist conducting research on cancer.Shee, who lives in Winthrop House, is a molecular and cellular biology concentrator. He plans to take a few weeks off after graduating and then begin a two-year job as a cancer researcher at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT laboratory of Todd Golub, a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.When Shee’s two-year contract is up, he plans on pursuing additional studies in graduate school, perhaps medical school. Though he entered Harvard with pre-med aspirations, in the four years since, he has become enamored with research.But Shee is sure he’ll continue dancing. Before coming to Harvard, he danced with the Crockett-Deane Ballet, based near his home in Sacramento, Calif.Shee is the older of two children in his family, both dancers. His parents always encouraged them to pursue art, Shee said, so that was important to him when he visited Harvard for the first time and saw a dance performance. Since then, he has danced with the Harvard Ballet Company, the Asian American Dance Troupe, and the Harvard Dance Program.Though he was urged to audition for jobs as a dancer after Commencement, Shee is a bit philosophical about the choice presented to him.“Dance is not something you need to do on a professional basis to really do it, and really enjoy it,” Shee said. “The act of expressing myself through dance is very fulfilling for me. Doing it as an extracurricular, but to a full extent, is more than I had hoped for.”Though he expects to continue taking dance lessons in Boston, Shee loves science too. Shee was interested in science in high school, but it was only in college that he was able to delve more fully into biology and become intrigued by both its complexity and its potential to do good.“There are a lot of things in the field of biology that I had no idea about. I found there was so much more to be discovered and so much more I needed to learn to make a mark in the field,” Shee said. “The more I learned, the more I realized there’s a lot to be done.”Shee has some personal motivation as well, since cancer has touched his family. A cousin died of liver cancer while Shee was at Harvard, and his mother is a breast cancer survivor.“This research has a lot to offer the world,” Shee said.Though many people think art and science are opposite disciplines, Shee doesn’t think that’s the case. The further he delves into biology, the more he sees the beauty of how it’s put together and understands that intuition and feeling, important to the dancer, are also important to the scientist.“They seem mutually exclusive, but they’re really not,” Shee said.For students just entering Harvard, Shee recommends they find something that excites them enough to spend the time it will take to excel in it.“It’s really important to find a passion, something to give your day to,” Shee said.last_img read more

Gen Ed connects the dots of life

March 1, 2021 | kzmwuuff | No Comments

first_imgCasual critics say college students can spend too much time with their heads in the clouds. John Huth, the Donner Professor of Science in Harvard’s Department of Physics, agrees. To bring undergraduates back to earth, Huth created “Primitive Navigation,” a course that teaches them to use nature’s signposts to get from place to place. Students learn to navigate the campus using the type of sun compass that the Vikings relied on; to calculate distance by measuring their own steps, as the ancient Romans did; and to understand the movement of celestial bodies and the change of seasons in elemental ways.“In this course, students not only learn about science in the classroom, but also by going out and doing things,” Huth said recently. “We took them to the roof of the Science Center and had them identify the major stars. They watched the movement over the course of an hour to try and get that motion ingrained. It gives the knowledge meaning.”Huth’s course is part of Harvard’s Program in General Education, popularly known as Gen Ed, which tries to connect what students learn at the College with the lives they’ll lead after graduation. A hit with students and faculty, Gen Ed has expanded to more than 400 courses since its launch in 2009, and now includes some of the most popular classes on campus, “Primitive Navigation” among them. The reasons for the program’s early success are no mystery. Gen Ed offers innovative courses, taught by leading faculty, to small numbers of students.Gary Feldman, the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science, gives a train demonstration in the Science Center. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer“We launched the Program in General Education in order to help students connect academic modes of thought to the nonacademic lives that most of them will lead, and to do so in more explicit ways than we have done in the past,” said College Dean Evelynn M. Hammonds. “The curriculum exposes undergraduates to the wide range of ideas and knowledge available here at one of the world’s leading research universities. It provides students with the ability to think critically and to see a problem from many different perspectives. And we believe it helps students to become lifelong learners who will always be interested in the world around them.”A deeper appreciation of the surrounding environment and a robust intellectual curiosity are two of Gen Ed’s goals. But it turns out that a liberal arts education is also precisely the type of workout that a young adult’s brain needs in order to develop critical faculties such as judgment and self-control. And the abilities to learn and think critically are skills that business leaders increasingly seek in 21st-century employees.Students get a feel for the brain during a science of living systems course. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerThe habits of the mindIn many ways, “Primitive Navigation” exemplifies the aims of the Gen Ed curriculum. The course purposely disorients students by presenting the familiar in fresh ways; it challenges them to look closely to discover what’s going on behind the appearance of things; then it gives students the tools to find their way again.“The curriculum is designed to create and instill certain habits of mind, certain ways of looking at the world that students can take with them wherever they go,” Jay M. Harris, dean of undergraduate education and Harry Austryn Wolfson Professor of Jewish Studies, said when Gen Ed was launched. “We recognize that most students will not be academics. But they will be citizens who are expected to participate in civic debate in an intelligent and informed way.”Harvard undergraduates are required to take at least one Gen Ed course in each of eight study areas: aesthetic and interpretive understanding; culture and belief; empirical and mathematical reasoning; ethical reasoning; science of living systems; science of the physical universe; societies of the world; and the United States in the world.One of the ongoing challenges for the General Education curriculum is the need to develop genuinely new, innovative courses.— Professor Allan M. Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and SciencesA primary goal of the classes, according to Louis Menand, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English and American Literature and Language and co-chair of the Task Force on General Education, is to develop in students an awareness of the ideas and realities that lay behind the appearance of things.“During my time on the task force, I heard several people say ‘It’s all about appearance and reality,’ ” Menand said. “That’s really what we do here. It’s about showing people that the way things seem is not the way they completely are, and giving students the knowledge and skills to see that on their own. This is true of pretty much every discipline.”Abigail Lipson, director of Harvard’s Bureau of Study Counsel, said the skills that Harvard’s curriculum tries to develop in students — critical thinking, the ability look at problems from different perspectives, and to evaluate one’s own actions — are also the capacities that the young adult brain is trying to build.“For example, in college we develop the ability to recognize, name, and articulate emotions and use them for information rather than simply a driving force,” she said. “A liberal arts education provides a context for exploring and exercising those kinds of capacities. It’s just what your brain needs.”Lipson pointed to a 2005 article in the Mental Health Letter of Harvard Medical School that cited late adolescence as a time when reasoning and judgment evolve in a way that is “crucial to emotional learning and high-level self-regulation.” The college years are the cognitive — as well as the educational — opportunity for a disciplined adult mind to emerge.Gen Ed aims to prepare students for a life of change and complexity, rather than a specific career, a plus in an ever-changing economy, and a goal that contrasts with some educational trends emphasizing vocational training. In 2006, the American Association of Colleges and Universities commissioned a poll that asked business executives from hundreds of midsized firms, “How should college prepare students to succeed in today’s global economy?” When surveyors described a “particular approach to a four-year education,” one that provided “broad knowledge in a variety of areas of study” and that “helps students develop … intellectual and practical skills … such as communication, analytical, and problem-solving skills,” 95 percent of employers said it was either “very important” or “fairly important” that colleges provide this type of education.“Most successful people in the business world will tell you about the importance of five things,” said Richard J. Light, Carl H. Pforzheimer Jr. Professor of Teaching and Learning at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and author of the book “Making the Most of College.”“These are the ability to synthesize information; the skill of writing extraordinarily well; the ability to do research on many different topics; the ability to speak at least one foreign language (preferably more); and an understanding of other cultures. Where else but at a college like Harvard that offers a serious liberal education — and pushes undergraduates very hard — can a student really learn all those ways of thinking?”Interdisciplinary innovationGen Ed classes are taught by scholars from nearly every faculty at Harvard, including the Business School, the Law School, the Medical School, the Kennedy School, and the School of Public Health. Stephanie Kenen, associate dean of undergraduate education and administrative director of the Program in General Education, said the opportunity to create courses that draw from different areas and to teach interested, enthusiastic young students already has attracted some of the University’s brightest scholars to Gen Ed.Students practice during the Gen Ed course “Aesthetic and Interpretive Understanding.” Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer“Once the program launched, faculty across campus began to see opportunities for new kinds of teaching and interdisciplinary work,” she said. “We began to see more courses being proposed. The curriculum provides opportunities and support for course topics that might not fit in particular Schools or departments.”History, archaeology, and cultural studies come together in “Pyramid Schemes,” a course that explores the archaeological history of ancient Egypt. Course leader Peter Der Manuelian, Philip J. King Professor of Egyptology, said it is both challenging and rewarding to design a rigorous curriculum that is not too esoteric for the generalist.“There is nothing like sharing the passion for one’s field with 170 interested undergraduates,” he said. “I enjoy watching students get excited about new pyramid construction theories, ancient religious schisms, explanations for the rise of complex society, and the mysteries of ancient Egyptian hieroglyphic grammar. Long ago, I learned that to focus only on the narrow confines of one’s discipline can lead to diminished interest levels across the board.”Students give Manuelian’s course high marks, and have made it one of the most popular Gen Ed offerings. Margaret Geoga ’12 said the course combines visits to area museums with the innovative use of technology to give students a deeper understanding of what ancient Egypt was like.“The technology turned out to be one of the best features of the class,” she said. “For example, the 3-D tour of Giza in the Visualization Center gave us an understanding of how all the monuments and tombs relate to each other physically that photos simply cannot provide.”College officials are working to keep the Gen Ed curriculum vibrant, and point to the dramatic expansion of course offerings over the last two years. When the program launched in 2009, 238 classes had been approved for the program; by this fall, the number had grown to 416. Many are new courses, and others that were offered previously have been recast with a Gen Ed perspective.“We want a curriculum that evolves with our students, so we have to refresh and renew it on an ongoing basis,” said Kenen. “Some courses are constructed in such a way as to retain their suitability for the program without much change over time. Others may not have as long a shelf life.”Graduating to the futureTo help meet the demand for new and engaging Gen Ed courses down the road, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences created the Graduate Seminars in General Education (GSGE). The brainchild of Professor Allan M. Brandt, dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, GSGE pairs faculty with graduate students in studying a topic at an advanced level and in creating an undergraduate course. Graduate students work on course themes, design, and pedagogy. If all goes well, the teaching fellows for a new Gen Ed course will be the same people who helped to design it.“One of the ongoing challenges for the General Education curriculum is the need to develop genuinely new, innovative courses,” Brandt said. “The idea of making the course development process itself into a seminar for graduate students seemed like a natural win. It allows for a scenario in which faculty members set aside dedicated time for course development, benefiting from the intelligence and energy of graduate students in the process. And graduate students become engaged in substantive ways, helping to develop their own instructional and pedagogic abilities.”Officials will continue to tweak Gen Ed in the years to come. Kenen said her group wants to make sure that the next three years go as smoothly as the past two. They will then evaluate the program, and move ahead.“We want to make sure that we have enough — and the correct — courses in each area,” she said. “Right now, we’re also starting to ask, ‘How would we evaluate the curriculum?’ Things have gone remarkably well over the past two years, especially when you consider that we launched Gen Ed in the midst of the University’s financial crisis. We’ll take a look at where we are sometime around the five-year mark.”In the interim, Kenen directs anyone curious about the program — or just in need of a quick shot of general knowledge — to the rather addictive series of trailers created for many of Gen Ed’s courses. There, a visitor can get a lesson on the ways that Jews and Christians interpret the Bible; learn about the development of children’s brains; and contemplate the circumstances of the winners and losers in the global economy, all in five minutes or less.“Each short video is a snapshot of a course,” Kenen said. “Faculty members give a little introduction to the class, its aims, and how it meets the goals of Gen Ed. It’s a great way for parents, students, and others to find out about offerings in the curriculum.”Sampling Harvard, in essaysIt is sometimes said that youth is wasted on the young. It also could be said that college sometimes is wasted on students, and that only after graduating does a former student come to appreciate learning. For those wishing to revisit the college classroom, or those who never had the opportunity, there is “The Harvard Sampler: Liberal Education for the Twenty-First Century.”In the spirit of the General Education curriculum, this book of essays gives a taste of the modern Harvard curriculum. The authors, who are among the University’s most respected faculty members, invite visitors to explore subjects as diverse as religious literacy and Islam, liberty and security in cyberspace, medical science and epidemiology, energy resources, evolution, morality, human rights, global history, the dark side of the American Revolution, American literature and the environment, interracial literature, and the human mind.The instructors, who include such premier scholars as Steven Pinker, Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, and Harry R. Lewis, summarize key developments in their fields in ways that both entertain and edify.last_img read more

Basketball, with perspective

March 1, 2021 | shgcmyqk | No Comments

first_imgIn a refreshing twist, atypical of many Harvard students, Victoria Lippert doesn’t have a plan for what to do after graduation. “I don’t know,” she shrugs. “I’ve been exploring that a lot lately, thinking about possibilities.”But the junior history and science concentrator isn’t the least bit worried. There’s her soon-to-be historic basketball career with the Crimson in which she’s poised to surpass the 1,000-point mark in one of her upcoming games — a feat that Lippert was blithely unaware of. But in reaching that goal, she’ll be only the sixth underclassmen and 16th player overall to reach 1,000 points. “It’s kind of cool,” Lippert says.Lippert, who left sunny San Diego three years ago to take up residence in chilly Cambridge, “hasn’t looked back since.”“I love Harvard,” she says. “And the snow was marvelous the first time I saw it.”When not racking up baskets as a forward for the Crimson, the down-to-earth Lippert is involved with the campus Christian group Athletes in Action. In the summer of 2010 she traveled with the organization to Pretoria, South Africa, where for a month the athletes worked to create a tutoring program at a local school.“It was a humbling experience, seeing the conditions there, listening to the kids’ stories, and knowing they have to deal with so much — disease, AIDS, poverty,” she recalls. “I grew a lot from that trip; it was a really powerful experience.”As the Crimson head into the final games of their season, Lippert’s versatility and scoring touch will be critical to their success. “We really want an Ivy League championship this year,” she says. “This group of girls is very special. We have amazing chemistry off the court, which really helps us on the court. Right now, we’re trying to bring consistency to the competition. Anything can happen on any given night. We have to have our game faces on.”“Vic is exceptional in many regards, both on and off the floor. First, she is an extremely talented, versatile player, who has a passion for the game that is contagious,” says Crimson coach Kathy Delaney-Smith. “And one of her most remarkable qualities is her unselfishness and will to win. Even though she’s a tremendous scorer in many ways, she puts the team first. She’ll do whatever it takes for the team to win.”And this determination will certainly aid her in whatever career path she chooses, too. There is, of course, the possibility of playing basketball overseas, but Lippert is considering an option closer to home, too.“I wrote a paper on the history of fingerprinting, and it got me thinking about crime and crime-fighting technology,” she says. “I’m considering something in law enforcement or the intelligence community. But I’m just poking around right now.”There’s plenty of time to figure all that out, of course. “I’m not afraid of change or adventure,” Lippert says. “I’m generally pretty adaptable. I like exciting, new possibilities.”last_img read more

first_imgFacebook certainly “likes” Gregory Malecha, a Ph.D. candidate in computer science at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).The social media giant awarded Malecha a 2012-13 Facebook Fellowship. As a fellow, he will enjoy fully paid tuition and fees for the academic year. He will also receive a $30,000 stipend, money towards conference travel and a personal computer, and have an opportunity to apply for a paid summer internship at Facebook.Malecha, who is advised by Greg Morrisett, Allen B. Cutting Professor of Computer Science at SEAS, works on program verification and topics in high-level programming languages.He became interested in compiler and programming language technology while an undergraduate at Rice University, where he worked on multistage programming.He believes that programming language technology has the potential to radically improve both the efficiency and the trustworthiness of modern software.“The core of my research is addressing the trustworthiness of software,” Malecha wrote in his fellowship application. “The complexity of systems like Linux and language run-times like Java has dwarfed even the substantial complexity of physical projects like bridges, skyscrapers and utility systems. Understanding even small parts of these software (and hardware) systems is becoming increasingly difficult. This makes bugs the norm, exposing users and companies to bad experiences and security breaches.”last_img read more

Paulus honored for directing excellence

March 1, 2021 | aazfmwrl | No Comments

first_imgThe American Repertory Theater Artistic Director Diane Paulus is the recipient of the Drama League’s 2012 Founders Award for Excellence in Directing. The award will be presented to her at the league’s 78th Annual Awards Ceremony on May 18, at the Marriott Marquee before a distinguished audience of industry professionals and league members.The award can be won only once in a lifetime and is given to an individual whose work over time sets new standards of directing excellence in American theater. This award is being given in recognition of Paulus’ body of work, highlights of which include the tremendously successful revival of “Hair,” and most recently, “The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess.”last_img