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Your independent source for Harvard news since 1898

John Harvard's Journal

Faculty for Freshman Seminars

May-June 2007

 

Ungraded freshmen seminars, introduced in 1959, were intended to introduce new College students to faculty members and to a subject of their choice—an opportunity for real intellectual exploration. But the number of courses offered peaked at about five dozen in the late 1970s and declined to just 33, accommodating barely a quarter of each class, in the 2000-2001 academic year, when Faculty of Arts and Sciences dean Jeremy R. Knowles proposed reinvigorating the program and then-dean for undergraduate education Susan G. Pedersen accelerated recruiting of faculty members to teach the seminars. Harvard College dean Benedict H. Gross reported on the current state of affairs in March: 133 seminars offered last academic year and this—enough to accommodate nearly every first-year student, if they are all interested—and with dramatic gains in teaching participation by faculty members, both tenured professors and those in the junior (“ladder”) ranks.