At the May 5 kick-off event for the Bok Center’s 40th anniversary celebration, former Harvard president Derek Bok recalled his first speech to the faculty, in 1971 when his term began, which he devoted to the subject of teaching. Afterward Bok spoke to his friend the eminent physicist Gerald Holton, “and I asked him, Gerry, how did it go? And he said, well, 80 percent of the faculty have given up on you.”
The first assignment, for the General Education course on “Primitive Navigation,” was for students to start at the John Harvard statue in the Yard, walk due west for what seemed 20 minutes with no tools or aids including a watch or phone, and see where they ended up. Probably students had an inkling this wasn’t going to end well. They would end up all over the greater Harvard Square area, knowing they were “lost.” So what?
The Herschbach teacher/scientist lecture series recognizes scholars who excel both as scientists and as educators. The lecture series honors emeritus professor Dudley Herschbach, a Nobel-prize winning chemist and a devoted educator.
Each year, eight PhD candidates are chosen to receive in-depth, personalized mentoring and coaching by the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning. The program culminates in a symposium of brief, compelling talks where these scholars present their research from the Sanders Theatre stage.