To the best of Adams House co-Master John G. "Sean" Palfrey's understanding, Harvard physics professors have never given a lecture on how to find an apartment in New York City, nor has the economics department has ever offered a tutorial on cooking for one.
In order to fill this gap between academic and practical knowledge, Palfrey will inject the Harvard education with a little "Life"--the name of a series of seminars designed to prepare House residents for their post-college existence.
"I came up with the idea as soon as we [Palfrey and his wife, Brazelton Professor of Pediatrics Judith S. Palfrey '67] were appointed masters," Palfrey says. "My original premise was to teach all of the things that Harvard didn't."
Although Palfrey says he is aware of similar offerings, such as Harvard Dining Services' cooking classes for seniors and House-sponsored lectures on proper etiquette, he says he envisions a much broader project.
The seminars--which will begin next Monday--will focus on a range of issues, including how to read a contract, "Plumbing 101" and "Advanced Doing the Laundry."
"A lot of the topics involve personal things," Palfrey adds. "How do you deal with a loved one who's depressed? A family member dying? How do you fire someone? How do you live through being fired?"
He says some topics, like cooking, will spawn a series of their own. Several members of the House's Senior Common Room (SCR) have already expressed an interest in teaching students about international cuisine--and Palfrey says he could even envision a spin-off seminar, just on cooking.
To brainstorm additional topics and find out what students want to learn more about, Palfrey held an organizational meeting in January that drew about 20 students.