Courses at Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Harvard University

Fall 2020 

(Undergraduate seminar course) SOCIOL1104 Sociology of Higher Education

SOCIOL1104 trailer 

This undergraduate seminar explores modern higher education systems, institutions and student experiences of higher education through sociological lenses. We read the seminal works and concepts from the seven domains of inquiry in sociology of higher education: college impact, study of inequalities, universities and colleges as organizations, academic profession, higher education politics, higher education culture and student agency and impact in higher education. We analyse some of the major questions and controversies in contemporary higher education – Is college worth the cost? Is it more important what or where you study for your job success? Are students customers or partners in higher education? Do students learn enough? What are the emerging and alternative models of higher education? We also look backstage to student experience at Harvard. This is a research-intensive seminar and each student conducts independent (conceptual or empirical) research leading to a final paper. This course offers opportunities to gain perspectives into established and emerging areas of research into higher education and insights into today's changing higher education landscape at Harvard, in the United States and across the world.

Spring 2021 

GEN ED 1039 Higher Education:Students, Institutions, and Controversies (trailer)


Though we may think of universities and colleges as centers of learning and research, they too are the subject of teaching and burgeoning research. This course explores contemporary higher education institutions and their major issues and controversies – (1) student impact in higher education, (2) how and what students learn, (3) rising student debt, (4) admission into elite institutions, (5) (future) forms of higher education, (6) rankings and global competition for talent, (7) student activism and free speech on campus, and (8) a topic chosen by students.

Each of these themes will enable us to explore different disciplinary perspectives, their foundational concepts and approaches to study higher education. We will compare the Harvard experience to experiences at other types of higher education institutions in the US and to examples from abroad. Through personal reflection and insights from guest speakers from Harvard administration, we will look behind the scenes at Harvard student experiences. We will also seek to understand the workings of different types of higher education institutions, conducting a field visit to universities and colleges in the Boston area. And, through case study examples and speakers we will be exposed to examples and insights from international comparative higher education.

The centerpiece of this course is a collaborative capstone project that involves original research --empirical or empirical applied-- on a chosen higher education topic. We will work in research groups. Collectively these research groups constitute a GENED1039 community of practice connected through interest in higher education and committed to generating knowledge about and for improving higher education at Harvard and beyond. The capstone research projects will be showcased on https://husrhe.fas.harvard.edu/ to inform and inspire practice and future research.

This is an opportunity to gain perspectives on established and emerging areas of higher education research, insights into today’s changing higher education landscape, and the tools to address higher education issues. As student researchers you will develop agency to voice, critically examine and propose solutions to higher education questions you care about at Harvard and beyond. You will be prompted to step out of your moral campus to tackle higher education controversies with an open mind and with attention to arguments and evidence. You will learn how to conduct rigorous social science research across social science methodological traditions, and you will enhance your ability to critically examine trustworthiness of findings based on social science research.

Spring 2021

(Engaged Scholarship Course) SOCIOL1130 Student Leadership and Service in Higher Education (trailer)

This Undergraduate Engaged Scholarship Course specifically targets students in service and leadership roles at Harvard (e.g. student leaders in student organizations, students serving on University committees or as interns in University offices or programs, PAFs, HOCOs, UC members, Crimson, etc.). To these students it offers an opportunity to engage with scholarship from sociology of higher education to better understand and explore student agency in college contexts. Through hands-on student leadership development workshops built into the course, students will also develop skills that will help them in their roles. Students' grasp of concepts, such as university citizenship, mattering, belonging, community-building, and self-formation, is reinforced through their experiential learning in existing service and leadership roles on campus. Based on their campus role, students work on participatory action research and develop blueprint to change practice or policy.  This course challenges the traditional line of inquiry in sociology of higher education which focuses primarily on the effects of college on students. Instead, student action research projects demonstrate student agency and the impact students have on higher education communities at Harvard. 

You can see 2018 - 2020 student projects published as a digital book "Students in Service at Harvard" at: https://scalar.fas.harvard.edu/studentpower/index.

Mindich Program

Mindich Program for Engaged Scholarship at Harvard College

The Mindich Program for Engaged Scholarship (MPES) is focused on integrating academics and community engagement through innovations in teaching, learning and research. Engaged Scholarship promotes engagement across academic disciplines, diverse sectors of civic and community life, to connect academics to real-world questions, problems, and opportunities. Through courses, research, projects and partnerships, Engaged Scholarship stimulates student and faculty collaboration with community beyond the Harvard context.