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New Secondary Field in Educational Studies Approved

A special collaboration between HGSE and FAS has yielded the first secondary field to connect with a Harvard graduate school, providing Harvard College students the opportunity to pursue their intellectual interests in education more formally.

In a first-of-its-kind collaboration, Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) will be launching a new secondary field for Harvard College students in educational studies, available this coming fall.

“The Secondary Field in Educational Studies will provide Harvard College students who are interested in studying education with a way to focus their intellectual interests, and will create a structured, interdisciplinary course of study that will draw upon faculty expertise in education from across Harvard University,” said HGSE Dean James E. Ryan. “I am thrilled about this news, because I think it will help to attract more students to the field of education and will further strengthen the ties between HGSE and the greater Harvard community.”

Undergraduate students interested in the program should speak with the program director about pathways for fulfilling the requirements, which consist of five approved courses and a capstone project related to education. They may take these courses through FAS, and may also take up to eight credits at professional schools such as HGSE.

“I am delighted that a multi-disciplinary secondary in educational studies has been approved. Its intellectual and policy content is already found in a host of disciplines and current courses,” said Claudia Goldin, Henry Lee Professor of Economics, who was involved in the planning and approval process of the secondary field. “Many Harvard faculty consider themselves experts in the field. It is high time that we included our students in the subject area so they could learn its various facets and write senior theses in the broad subject area.”

In consultation with the program director, students will be able to choose from a wide range of course offerings on topics in education from a variety of departments including Economics, Psychology, Sociology, History, and Government, among others. Students will begin with a selection from a list of foundational courses and then will be required to complete courses in at least three different academic units.

The secondary field will be overseen by the Standing Committee on Higher Degrees in Education which is responsible for the Ph.D. in Education.

For the past four years, undergraduate students have expressed their desire for additional opportunities to engage and explore their intellectual interests in education.

“Students recognize that education is one of the most important social institutions that exists; it influences the life trajectories of individuals, the nature of communities, the strength of nations, and the future of global integration. They want to understand education even if they don't plan to have careers as educators. The new secondary field will make it much easier for them do that,” said Julie Reuben, Charles Warren Professor of the History of American Education, and a key advocate for the program, who worked closely with both FAS and HGSE faculty and administration as part of the approval process. “I would also like to recognize my HGSE colleagues, particularly Kay Merseth, who laid the ground work for this proposal, and also Bridget Terry Long, Matt Miller, Jon Star, Nonie Lesaux, and Brendan Russell for their support and dedication to this important work.” 

The Secondary Field in Educational Studies is not a form of professional training. But some students who choose to pursue this path may also be interested in the two options for teacher certification currently available to Harvard College students — the Undergraduate Teacher Education Program and Harvard Teacher Fellows — though neither will have a formal relationship with the Secondary Field in Educational Studies.

“I’m thrilled that Harvard has agreed to establish a secondary field in education studies,” said James Kloppenberg, Charles Warren Professor of American History, who was involved in the planning and approval process of the secondary field. “As an increasing number of Harvard undergraduates understand, there is no world of work more important, or in greater need of their talents and energy, than the world of education. Questions revolving around education have been central to philosophical inquiry ever since Plato, and they remain urgent in our own day. I congratulate everyone involved in creating this wonderful new feature of Harvard College.”


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