Friends yesterday honored David Riesman '31, Ford II Professor of Social Sciences, at a Faculty Club reception marking his approaching June retirement.
Riesman, who has taught at Harvard since the mid-1950s, said yesterday at the celebration that his main goals at the University have been to "deprovincialize education and to teach teachers how to teach." He added he attempted to create an atmosphere of heterogeneity by selecting section leaders for his courses from "non-American" backgrounds.
Riesman developed the popular Social Sciences 136, "Sociological Structures in America," which encouraged undergraduates to use the Boston community as an educational resources. Soc Sci 136 was discontinued five years ago with Riesman's semi-retirement.
Riesman will continue his ties to Harvard as a guest lecture in Social Studies 10 and a professor at the University's extension school.
After his retirement, Riesman plans to continue research on the American system of higher education, his specially.
Barbara E. Norfleet, lecturer on Visual and Environmental Studies and a former section leader in Soc Sci 136, said at the reception that Riesman is "an intensely serious teacher," adding that he encouraged creative discussion among his section leaders and his students.
Norfleet added, "Despite his conservative demeanor, Riesman's an innovative and radical teacher."
James A. Davis, professor of Sociology, echoed Norfleet's remarks, adding, "Professor Riesman is a compulsive teacher."