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Leading in Learning

Harvard encourages pioneers and explorers. Across our expansive intellectual landscape, the very best scholars do their very best work and lead positive change in the world.

Now, at a time when what you need to know to make a meaningful contribution grows by the second and ideas are driving innovation, Harvard is leading in learning. At this moment of disruption and change, Harvard will shape the future of education.

Leading in Learning

Students take a campus tree tour in Harvard Yard for Professor Don Pfister’s General Education class, Science of Living Systems 25: Trees, Forests, and Global Change. Photo credit: Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

Harvard is exploring, innovating, experimenting, and leading change in how our faculty teach and how our students learn. Home to the most dynamic conversations on teaching happening anywhere in higher education today, Harvard is engaging faculty from across its Schools and convening experts from the world over. Harvard is a place not just for pioneers but also for the curious, who have the ability to experiment in ways that are right for them and their students.

Our faculty are coming together like never before to understand how to use classrooms better, how to use technology to open new pathways to knowledge, and how to shape the science of learning to evaluate how our teaching methods impact students. We are working to understand how faculty can use their time with students differently and better. We are building novel tools that engage students and improve learning outcomes. We are unleashing our educational resources for use by learners around the world.

Our timing couldn’t be better. Ideas are the currency in a digital, globalizing, creative economy, moving faster and farther than ever. The international landscape is changing, and growing interest in the value of higher education here at home is provoking spirited debate and evaluation. Harvard faces a unique opportunity for our faculty to make a difference, to answer hard questions, at a time when learning has never been more important.

The Harvard Campaign for Arts and Sciences will propel our progress further and to even greater result. Our students will be the first to benefit, but the impact of our efforts will be felt far beyond our campus.

Harvard’s teaching strategy has three main components: direct investments in faculty activities, programs that support faculty innovation and share best practices, and infrastructure to help us teach in new ways.

by the numbersGeneral Education Classes

51 to 482

Overall growth from 2008 to 2013 (this includes new courses and those reconceived from the Core Curriculum)



Number of people signed up for HarvardX online classes as of August 2013

The Campaign will augment the activities and research of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, HarvardX, and the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences Learning Incubator. Additionally, the Campaign will provide support for our community’s teaching and learning enterprise, including the development of courses and innovative teaching techniques, interdisciplinary collaboration, undergraduate research programs, classroom infrastructure, laboratories, and modern technology.

The Bok Center is the focal point for our teaching innovation and understanding at Harvard. The center will tap into Harvard’s unique resources to help instructors evolve in meeting the needs of today’s students and will leverage the on-campus presence of both undergraduate and graduate students, who are more inventive, tech savvy, and energized than ever before.

The interplay between such motivated students and untiring faculty has catalyzed a reinvention of on-campus learning. Faculty-student collaboration has accelerated the use of new technology, experiential learning programs, novel teaching methods, and rigorous research to shape a world-class education. It is the Bok Center’s role to synthesize these extraordinary changes as they happen and to learn from, and improve upon, the creativity of our stellar faculty and students.

We have an opportunity to shape the future of education.

— Michael D. Smith, John H. Finley, Jr. Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences

HarvardX is a University-wide initiative focused on innovation and excellence in online and blended models of teaching and learning. With a fundamental commitment to experimentation, HarvardX partners directly with faculty to bring their ideas for online learning from dream to reality, drawing on technologists and learning experts from across the University. The result? Faculty are expanding learning possibilities in Harvard classrooms and expanding access to learning around the world.

Online learning presents an opportunity for new research on teaching and embodies our community’s commitment to making access to education a basic right. The edX platform, founded together with MIT, is one new way in which instructors can now engage with not merely tens or hundreds of students but tens of thousands of students in a single course. And the platform serves as a data-gathering instrument to understand which methods of teaching are most effective by utilizing an unparalleled sample set: the world. We can now know more than ever before about how online learners use web-based content, benefiting on-campus experience as well.

While support is vital to the individuals, research programs, and scholarly materials that make a Harvard education exceptional, equally vital is funding to construct spaces and acquire technologies that create an environment suitable to modern-day learning and training for workplace success.

This campaign is our opportunity to nurture and grow a Harvard where talent, leadership, scholarship, learning, and innovation flourish—now and in a future we can only imagine.

Priority Stories

Ancient Music play Oct 27, 2015

Age-Old Enchantments

Through ear and taste, students touched the ancient past.
Harvard students repairing churches in Alabama Sep 14, 2015

A Gift for Public Service

The new Mindich programs will support College students’ efforts to help others.
Cellist Neil Heyde of London’s Royal Academy of Music plays at a concert held in the Calderwood Courtyard play Mar 25, 2015

A Fountain of Music

Student compositions, inspired by Art Museums’ works, debut in courtyard concert.
Fresh approaches in teaching Oct 29, 2013

Fresh Approaches in Teaching

Arboretum class explores science as Darwin did.

Giving Opportunities

When you choose to support Leading in Learning, you foster the use of revolutionary technology and pedagogical innovations on our campus and beyond.

  • Leading in Learning

    Leading in Learning Funds

    From course development to visiting practitioners to field experiences, Leading in Learning funds support engaged scholarship and encourage pedagogical creativity in Harvard’s classrooms.

  • Classroom

    21st-Century Classrooms

    Gifts to support 21st-century classrooms create teaching environments where cutting-edge technology, digital tools, and flexible furniture enable innovative pedagogy and active learning.

  • Dean's Teaching Innovation Funds

    Undergraduate Research Funds

    Undergraduate research funds open experiential learning to students wishing to pursue research opportunities outside the classroom.

Contact us for more ways to get involved


Harvard Alumni Affairs and Development
124 Mount Auburn Street
Cambridge, MA 02138