Seminars

Seminar Offerings Link

Fall 2020 - Spring 2021 Seminars

Freshman Seminars are offered under the general supervision of the Standing Committee on Freshman Seminars. They are designed to intensify the intellectual experience of incoming undergraduates by allowing them to work closely with faculty members on topics of mutual interest.

Freshman seminars are graded SAT/UNS and may not be audited. Only students in their first-year in the College may take a seminar in either or both of the terms. Each seminar is worth 4 units of credit. Enrollment is limited to 12-15 students.

Narrative Negotiations: How do Readers and Writers Decide on What are the Most Important Voices and Values Represented in a Narrative?

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Homi K. Bhabha (Department of English and Department of Comparative Literature)
Freshman Seminar 63N    4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Narrative Negotiations explores narrative “voice” in a wide range of literary and cultural texts. Narrative voice is a lively dialogue between the author and the reader as they engage in the experience of determining the value and veracity of the narrative: whose story is it anyway? The writer...

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Natural History Museums and the Anthropocene

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Charles C. Davis (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology)
Freshman Seminar 51S 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Natural history museums have inspired us for centuries and represent our best resources for understanding nature. They have been central to the development of countless scientific principles, including the theory of evolution itself. Yet the more inward facing missions of a museum are unfamiliar and the collections that sustain these efforts are vast and...

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Nietzsche

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Jay M. Harris (Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations)
Freshman Seminar 63P 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In his autobiography, Friedrich Nietzsche included a chapter entitled, "Why I Write Such Good Books." While he won't win any prizes for humility, he accurately anticipated the judgment of history: he did write some amazing books. In them, Nietzsche addresses some of the big...

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Parts Unknown: The Dark Matter of the Genome

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Amanda J. Whipple (Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Freshman Seminar  52F 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Did you know that genes, traditionally defined as DNA encoding protein, only account for two percent of the entire human genome? What is the purpose of the remaining 98% of the genome? Is it simply “junk DNA”? This seminar will explore the large portion of our genome that has been neglected by scientists for many years...

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Physics of Measurements: Experimental Science

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Philip Kim (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 51V 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Measurement, a procedure to acquire a quantitative description of our surroundings, has been an essential part of scientific and engineering research. Often, new scientific breakthroughs rely on the development of new measurement methodology. A notable example in the recent development of quantum computing relies on the uncertainty of the measurement procedure in quantum systems. Conversely...

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Physics, Math and Puzzles

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Cumrun Vafa (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 23P     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 15

Physics is a highly developed branch of science with a broad range of applications. Despite the complexity of the universe the fundamental laws of physics are rather simple, if viewed properly. This seminar will focus on intuitive as well as mathematical underpinnings of some of the fundamental laws of nature. The seminar will use...

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Quantum Entanglement and the Second Quantum Revolution

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Ashvin Vishwanath (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 52D  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In his final attack on quantum physics, Albert Einstein identified a property of the theory that he found so strange that he termed it "spooky." Decades later, numerous experiments have shown that nature behaves in exactly the strange way predicted by quantum mechanics, and the essential ingredient for this astonishing behavior is mainly what we now call quantum...

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Reading the Novella: Form and Suspense in Short Fiction

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Jonathan H. Bolton (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 61U     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Short enough to read in a single sitting, but more complex and absorbing than short stories, novellas give us some of our most intense reading experiences. Indeed, many of the enduring classics of world literature, from Melville's Benito Cereno to Tolstoy's The Death of...

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Reading Tolstoy's War and Peace

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Julie A. Buckler (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and Department of Comparative Literature)
Freshman Seminar 37P 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Leo Tolstoy's massive masterwork War and Peace (1865-69) is a magnificent work of art by a world-class writer tackling life's "big questions." It is also a great read!  Over the course of a semester, we...

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Research at the Harvard Forest—Global Change Ecology: Forests, Ecosystem Function, and the Future

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

David R. Foster (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology)
Freshman Seminar 21W 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The seminar will consist of weekly discussions led jointly by the instructors and students concerning global change impacts on the New England landscape as explored through diverse studies by Harvard Forest researchers. The readings and discussions will acquaint students with...

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Science and Engineering for Managing COVID-19

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Evelyn Hu (John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences)
Michael Brenner (Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and the Department of Physics)
John Doyle (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 52I 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 14

Our lives have been disrupted by the Covid19 pandemic. Important decisions that influence public policy and constrain personal behavior depend on the accuracy of forecasting future outbreaks, our ability to reliably test for the presence of the virus, and the efficacy of mitigation measures like wearing masks as a means of controlling the spread of infection.... Read more about Science and Engineering for Managing COVID-19

Science in the Age of Artificial Intelligence

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Brendan J. Meade (Department of Earth & Planetary Sciences)
Freshman Seminar 51C  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 15

Science is focused on discovering and explaining the world around and within us. This has been its goal for hundreds of years and has produced astonishing breakthroughs from population genetics, to general relativity, to plate tectonics. Artificial intelligence is touted as a tool for learning about a complex system in ways that humans can't and has seen...

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Sex, Money, and Power in the Postcolonial World

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

George Paul Meiu (Department of Anthropology and Department of African and African American Studies)
Freshman Seminar 70S  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

With globalization, sex—everywhere—has become more central to who we are as citizens and consumers, how we gain rights and resources, and how we relate to others as members of a specific race, ethnicity, region, or culture. Worldwide, states invest or disinvest in people according to how they have sex, adopt gender identities, or sustain sexual morality. ... Read more about Sex, Money, and Power in the Postcolonial World

Shadow Economies in U.S. History

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Devin McGeehan Muchmore (Committee on Degrees in History & Literature)
Freshman Seminar 63Z    4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Have you ever received cash for babysitting? Or used a friend’s HBO password? Or lied about your age to access a webpage? Although terms like “informal sector” and “black market” might seem to imply marginality, economic activities that evade or contravene legal...

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Skin, Our Largest, Hottest, and Coolest Organ: From Cancer to Cosmetics

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

David E. Fisher (Harvard Medical School)
Freshman Seminar 51M 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Skin provides a protective barrier that is vital to survival of all multicellular organisms. Its physical properties have been exploited for centuries, from clothing to footballs, and yet skin is a vibrant and dynamic organ that responds to environmental signals in myriad ways. Skin protects humans from toxic exposures, but can also be an...

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The American Democratic Tradition: Past, Present, and Future

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

James T. Kloppenberg (Department of History)
Freshman Seminar 72G 4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The United States boasts one of the world's oldest continuously operating democracies. Why does it seem so unstable in 2020? Why is American politics so polarized? Is that polarization healthy or hazardous? What should Americans do to fix what ails our democracy? To answer those questions, we will examine contemporary US democracy in relation to its history, tracing the...

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The American West: History & Myth

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Christopher Clements (Committee on Degrees in History & Literature)
Freshman Seminar 63Y 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment: Limited to 12

Lil Nas X reinvented a Western aesthetic with his 2019 hit, Old Town Road:

I got the horses in the back / Horse tack is attached /
Hat is matte black / Got the boots that’s black to match.

The 20-year-old Georgia rapper joined a parade of artists, authors, scholars, and citizens who...

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The Biology of Movement

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Andrew A. Biewener (Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology)
Freshman Seminar 50H 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Movement is a fundamental property of life that underlies many biological functions, ranging from collecting or catching food, predator escape, dispersal of offspring, mating and reproduction, to migration, social interaction, sport, and artistic expression.  This seminar will explore why and how organisms move, providing an overview of the...

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The Grail Quest of Marcel Proust

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Virginie Greene (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 60K 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

 

This seminar is an introduction to literature, the visual arts, the Harvard campus, and the Boston area.

We will read entirely Chrétien de Troyes’ Tale of the Grail (c. 1190), and excerpts of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time (1913-1922). Students will be invited to reflect on young Perceval's adventures...

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The Path to a Low-Carbon Future

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Douglas P. Finkbeiner (Department of Astronomy and Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 51Z  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Big changes are coming to the way we generate our electricity, with renewables like wind and solar displacing fossil fuels for both environmental and economic reasons.  A future of carbon-free electricity is possible, but by no means inevitable.  What will it take to get there?  The transition away from...

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The Psychological Roots of Oppression

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

James Sidanius (Department of Psychology and Department of African and African American Studies)
Freshman Seminar 71U     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Why are people so willing to humiliate, oppress and even massacre people from other social groups? What are the obstacles impeding the construction of truly multi-ethnic societies in which people from all ethnic groups function as equal partners in the pursuit of the national project? What...

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The Science of Sailing

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Jeremy Bloxham (Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences)
Freshman Seminar 22I   4 Credits (fall term)   Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In this seminar we explore how to use simple physics to understand a range of natural phenomena associated with sailing.  Beginning with a discussion of hydrostatics and stability, the seminar moves on to explore in depth the generation of lift and drag by the flow of air over sails and the flow of water over keels and rudders, examining...

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The Secrets of Stradivarius or What Makes the Violin Sound Beautiful?

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Philippe Cluzel (Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Freshman Seminar 51N     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 8

This is an exploratory seminar that draws concepts from many different fields ranging from music to evolution, machine learning, physics, biology, wood carving, and neuro-aesthetics. The goal of the seminar is to discuss the different concepts needed to understand the design of a violin and...

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The Universe's Hidden Dimensions

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Lisa Randall (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 26J     4 credits (fall term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 12

This seminar will give an overview and introduction to modern physics and cosmology. As with the books, Warped Passages, Knocking on Heaven's Door, Higgs Discovery, and Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs, on which it will be loosely based, the seminar will consider important developments in physics today and in...

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Tree

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

William E. Friedman (Department of Organismic & Evolutionary Biology)
Freshman Seminar 52C  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Have you hugged a tree lately?  How about grown one? Photographed one? Drawn one? Written about one?  Imagine a semester devoted to connecting two organisms: a person (you) and a tree (not you).  Interacting with a single tree, you will explore its individual history, evolutionary history, life cycle, leaves, bark,...

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U.S. Energy Policy and Climate Change

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

James H. Stock (Department of Economics)
Freshman Seminar 42H     4 credits (fall term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Burning fossil fuels has powered 150 years of unprecedented economic growth but has also left a legacy of ever-increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Those gases are changing our climate and thereby endangering human health, human welfare, and the earth’s ecosystems. To...

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Understanding the Seemingly Impossible: A Revolution in Biology

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Craig P. Hunter (Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology)
Freshman Seminar 51F  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Occasionally a scientific discovery is so unexpected that it is seemingly unexplainable. This seminar will revisit one such event, the discovery of RNA interference and how modern experimental molecular genetics cracked this "problem" and started a billion-dollar industry. Rare unexpected discoveries in biology, for example catalytic RNAs,...

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What is a Classic?

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Rachel Love (Department of the Classics)
Freshman Seminar 63R  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The question of what makes certain works "classics" has plagued readers ever since they had more than one book to choose from. When faced with more works of literature and art than one could consume in a single lifetime, the label "classic" provides readers with a narrowed selection that is guaranteed to be worth the time and effort to engage with, that is vital to...

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What Is Beauty?

Semester: 

Fall

Offered: 

2020

Francesco Erspamer (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 35E  4 credits (fall term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 15

Beauty does not promise or imply the possibility of verification—there will be no comprehensive research and no day of reckoning to finally prove that Leonardo’s Mona Lisa or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony are in fact beautiful. Perhaps this is precisely the reason why we need beauty, and why it is worth studying...

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America's $4 Trillion Challenge: Boosting Health Care Productivity and Broadening Access

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

THIS SEMINAR HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR SPR 2021.
 

Alan M. Garber (Department of Economics, Harvard Medical School, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health)

Freshman Seminar 40K  4 credits (spring term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 15

"Why does health care cost so much?" Policymakers, employers, and the public share deep frustration...

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Asian America

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Diana L. Eck (Department of South Asian Studies & Committee on the Study of Religion)
Freshman Seminar 70Y     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

How "Asian" is America today? This seminar explores the Asian dimensions of American society, with special attention to religion, ideas, and culture from the first encounters of Thoreau and Emerson with texts and ideas of the "Orient" to the...

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Asteroids and Comets

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Charles R. Alcock (Department of Astronomy)
Freshman Seminar 23R     4 credits (spring term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 12 

Comets have been seen regularly since before the beginning of recorded history. They have often been regarded as disturbing portents. Asteroids, on the other hand, were not discovered until the nineteenth century, with the advent of astronomy with telescopes. Today we know of many more asteroids than comets, but we believe that there are vastly...

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Build a Modern Art Exhibition—Dig up Harvard’s Archives

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Felipe Pereda (Department of History of Art and Architecture)
Freshman Seminar 63U    4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The making of an exhibition entails a thorough process of investigation. We will need to find the works of art, document them and construct an argument that will be brought to life at a museum gallery. The goal of this seminar is to give you the chance to participate in the research and design of this...

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Cartoons, Folklore, and Mythology

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Joseph F.Nagy (Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 61F     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12 

The creators of cinematic (and later TV) animation have perennially turned to traditional oral and literary tales about fantastic heroes, villains, tricksters, and settings for their story material.  In the world of the animated “short” and feature-length film, myths, epics, legends, and folktales could come to life in a...

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Changing Perspectives: The Science of Optics in the Visual Arts

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Aravinthan D. T. Samuel (Department of Physics)   
Freshman Seminar 51X     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 8

Renaissance artists developed many techniques to create stunningly realistic representations of the natural world. From a two-dimensional visual image on the retina, the human brain effortlessly comprehends its three-dimensional surroundings. But faithfully transferring three-dimensional information to a canvas—a sense...

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Copycat China?

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Thomas P. Kelly (Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations)
­­Freshman Seminar 63K 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In our age of deception, China is widely blamed for a failure to respect intellectual property. These attacks are not new: Chinese makers have long been condemned for flooding the market with cheap knockoffs, forgeries, and counterfeit brands. Challenging such stereotypes, this seminar explores ideas of copying in Chinese...

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Democracy and Education in America

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Robert B. Willison (Committee on Degrees in Social Studies)
Freshman Seminar 72D    4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Cheerful illusions and wish fulfillment have dominated both popular and scholarly thought about democracy for two centuries. Democratic theory has sailed along as if no iceberg had struck and the engine room were not taking on water…Our view is that conventional thinking about democracy has collapsed in the face of modern social-scientific research.
(Achen and Bartels, Democracy...

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Economic Development

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021


(This seminar is no longer offered. Professor Kremer has left Harvard University.)

 

Michael R. Kremer (Department of Economics)
Freshman Seminar 41J 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Understanding the determinants of the wealth of nations has long motivated the study of economics and it is arguably the most important problem in the field for human welfare. This seminar will examine economic development, looking both at historical experience and...

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First Stars and Life in the Cosmos

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Abraham Loeb (Department of Astronomy)
Freshman Seminar 21G    4 credits (spring term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 15

Since the Universe is expanding, it must have been denser in the past. But even before we get all the way back to the Big Bang, there must have been a time when stars like our Sun did not exist because the Universe was denser than they are. Since stars are needed to keep us warm, we face the important question about our origins: how and when did the first stars...

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Insurrection in a Little Kingdom—The Real Story of the Standard Model of Particle Physics

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Howard M. Georgi (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 51U 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment: Limited to 12

At the end of the 1960s, particle physics was in a very chaotic state. There were experiments producing apparently conflicting data that were as confusing to the theorists as they were to the experimenters themselves. There were dramatically different theoretical approaches, none of which were convincing or even thoroughly understood. Less than 10 years later, we could put the standard...

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Literal Looking: What We See in Art

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Peter J. Burgard (Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 31Q    4 credits (spring term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 12

What do we really see when we look at a work of art? If we have little experience, we may not get far beyond discerning the theme and ascertaining whether the work is an accurate representation of reality (in the case of representational art);...

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Making the Grade? Middle and High School Math Education in the U.S.

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Robin Gottlieb (Department of Mathematics)    
Freshman Seminar 40P    4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12 or 15?

What are the goals of mathematics education at the middle and high school level, and how do these goals impact our evaluation of the success or failure of math education in America? Why does math education at these levels matter? What societal structures (historic, economic, political, cultural) impact mathematics education? How...

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Museums in the Age of Covid

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

James Hanken (Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology)
Freshman Seminar 41U    4 credits (spring term)    Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is taking a huge toll on museums, both causing great harm and forcing long-overdue changes that address new opportunities. This seminar will trace the history of museums from their beginnings centuries ago as personal collections maintained by private (wealthy) individuals to the modern...

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Nuclear Dilemmas

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Benjamin T. Wilson (Department of the History of Science)
Freshman Seminar 52G 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

This seminar explores major issues in nuclear weapons history and policy. Did the use of atomic bombs by the United States against Japan end the Second World War? Have nuclear arsenals prevented a direct conflict between nuclear powers since 1945? Why have some countries pursued nuclear arsenals while others have not? Could society survive a nuclear war in any...

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Science and Technology Primer for Future Leaders

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Hongkun Park (Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology and Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 52E 4 credits (fall term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

We live in a world that is shaped by science and technology. As a modern citizen who will lead the U.S. and the world in the coming generation, you should be cognizant of the rapidly changing landscape of science and technology and be ready to be active participants in the decision-making processes for deploying these life-changing...

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Science Not Silence: Censorship and Secrecy from Copernicus to Climate Crisis

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Hannah Marcus (Department of the History of Science)
Freshman Seminar 51W 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

In April 2017, over a million people around the globe took to the streets to defend science in the face of declining public attention to scientific knowledge and increasing governmental neglect of scientific research. This seminar explores how and why...

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Surviving Your First Year at Harvard: Lessons of Resiliency From Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

María Luisa Parra-Velasco (Department of Romance Languages and Literatures)
Freshman Seminar 63S  4 credits (spring term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Are you trying to discover your passion in life? Is love a concern of yours? Do you often think about your appearance, and what others might think of you? Is a strong sense of community important to you? Do you fantasize about (better) Mexican food at Annenberg? Are you looking for opportunities to express your creativity? If...

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That Seventies Seminar: Discovering a Decade that Made America

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Jane Kamensky (Department of History)
Freshman Seminar 72E 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

Sure, you know Watergate and disco. But did you know that the American 1970s also witnessed the rise of phenomena as diverse as the environmental movement, neoliberal economic policy, mass incarceration, modern conservatism, terrorism, gay rights, hip hop, the “zipless fuck,” and the abortion wars? Freshman Seminar 72E takes a short, strange trip through this generative and often-...

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The Economist’s View of the World

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

N. Gregory Mankiw (Department of Economics)
Freshman Seminar 43J     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

This seminar's goal is to probe how economists of various perspectives view human behavior and the proper role of government in society. Each week, seminar participants will read a brief, nontechnical, policy-oriented book by a prominent economist. The participants will then discuss the work's strengths and weaknesses, exploring the positive scientific...

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The Interaction of Light with the World

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Melissa Franklin (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 52H 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment: Limited to 12

The interaction of light with matter dominates both our sensory and scientific understanding of the world. The way the sunlight scatters from atoms in the atmosphere to shine on objects so that we can see them, for instance. This interaction is deeply rooted in quantum mechanics, and requires a good understanding of the atom which we will develop with very, very few equations. We will...

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The Origins of the Human Mind

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Susan E. Carey (Department of Psychology) 
Freshman Seminar 71F  4 credits (spring term)  Enrollment:  Limited to 12

The adult human mind is a unique phenomenon on earth. Only people can ponder the causes of and cures for global warming or pancreatic cancer, and can think thoughts about molecules, genes, democracy... Animals, and human infants, do not have most of the 500,000 concepts expressed by words in English. How does...

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The Universe: Its Origin, Evolution, and Major Puzzles

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Cora Dvorkin (Department of Physics)
Freshman Seminar 51T 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 15

This seminar will lead you on a tour of Cosmology and its open questions: how were the first structures of the universe seeded? What is dark matter? What is dark energy? We will study the universe since the very first tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang and its subsequent evolution. We will delve into its composition at large...

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Vegetal Humanities

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Carrie Lambert-Beatty (Department of History of Art and Architecture and Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies)
Freshman Seminar 63W 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

This class invites you to practice a new kind of plant-consciousness. Our guides will be contemporary artists and thinkers who are encouraging new relationships between human and vegetal life, or recalling very old ones. Suddenly, we have plant protagonists, gardens...

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Video: The Medium of Everyday Life

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Karthik Pandian (Department of Art, Film, and Visual Studies)
Freshman Seminar 63V   4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 10

Video is fast becoming the medium of everyday life. We use it to communicate, learn, entertain, inform, and express ourselves. At the same time, we are often used by "it"—manipulated, programmed, influenced, distracted, fooled. In this production seminar, we will explore the medium of video by putting works of...

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War in Fiction and Film

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Justin M. Weir (Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature)
Freshman Seminar 62P     4 credits (spring term)     Enrollment:  Limited to 12

War has always been one of the most important subjects of art and literature, but in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, public ideas about war and military service have been formed increasingly by film and other visual media....

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War Stories: Looking at War Through the Tales We Tell

Semester: 

Spring

Offered: 

2021

Drew Gilpin Faust (Department of History)
Freshman Seminar 63M 4 credits (spring term) Enrollment:  Limited to 12

This seminar will explore American wars from the Civil War to the present through the lens of fiction and film. As Ernest Hemingway once explained to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “War is the best subject of all.  It groups the maximum of material and speeds up the action and brings out all sorts of stuff that normally you have to wait a lifetime to get.” War has been lodged at the...

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Working Remotely

Hours: Monday-Friday, 9:00AM-5:00PM
Email: seminars@fas.harvard.edu
Tel: 617-495-1523