Gen Ed Review Committee To Hold Town Hall Meetings

The committee tasked with reviewing the Program in General Education will host town hall meetings in October to gauge understanding of the program’s pedagogical goals among students, faculty, and administrators.

The meetings will contribute to a report assessing the state of the Gen Ed program. That report, which the committee intends to release at the end of the spring semester, will be the first of its kind since the program's inception in 2007.

Comprised of 10 faculty members from across Harvard’s academic divisions and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the committee convened officially for the first time over the summer to make plans to move forward with the review during the fall semester.

The group will use the town hall meetings to solicit feedback about the Gen Ed program from various stakeholders to create a more comprehensive survey to release to the College, according to committee chair Sean D. Kelly, a Philosophy professor.

“Right now we’re starting to ask the question, ‘What format should the town hall meetings have, what kinds of questions do we think would help us understand most what the students think of the program?’” Kelly said.

Four meetings will be held in October—two in River Houses, one in the Yard, and one in the Quad. While all members of the College will be invited to attend the meetings, teaching fellows will have a separate town meeting to discuss their experiences with the program.

In addition, according to Kelly, the review committee has been working with the Harvard College Institutional Research Office to gather data from a senior survey and the Q Guide to understand student views on the purpose of the program and determine whether or not they enjoy their Gen Ed classes.

“We have lots of anecdotal evidence about what [students] think, but we’re trying to figure out systematically what the views are,” Kelly said.

Members from the Undergraduate Council met with the committee over the summer to discuss ways to engage students in the review on Gen Ed. The UC’s Education Committee plans to raise awareness about the Gen Ed review committee’s work, according to UC Education Committee Chair Dhruv P. Goyal ’16.

“We’re going to send out surveys, use Ghost Protocol, just to kind of use the various mechanisms that the UC has to solicit as much feedback from students with regards to many of the issues related to General Education,” Goyal said.

After the review committee holds its town hall meetings, surveys students and faculty about the program, and completes its report, they will present their findings and recommendations to Faculty of Arts and Sciences Dean Michael D. Smith. Eventually, the report will go public and be open to discussion amongthe Faculty, who may vote on changes to the program, help reassess its purpose, and clarify potential ambiguities among students and instructors.

“We’re trying to get to the bottom of that, where the unclarity comes from,” Kelly said.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.


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