As she welcomed the parents of the Class of 2014 in Sanders Theatre last weekend, Harvard President Drew Faust spoke of the importance of something that people may strive to avoid: the risk of failure.Faust recalled her 2010 convocation to the class, in which she had encouraged students to “develop an idea of success that had a place in it for failure,” one that would enable students to take risks, stretch themselves and their perceptions of the world, and understand better what they don’t know.During their time at Harvard, Faust said, “I hope that your children’s ‘yes’ moments have been tempered by some ‘no’ moments, and that they appreciate the benefits of sometimes feeling out of their element. And if they haven’t, don’t worry: They’ve got 14 months left,” she added, eliciting laughter from the audience.More than 1,320 parents and family members were on campus for Junior Parents Weekend 2013. Sponsored by the Office of Student Life, the two-day event included a wealth of Harvard programming for visiting parents, ranging from a five-mile run for juniors and family members on Saturday morning to open-house events all across campus.Doug Walo, manager of the Student Organization Center at Hilles and Student Life Events, said he looks forward to Junior Parents Weekend every year because it is such an “enthusiastic and celebratory event.”“Students, particularly the Crimson Key Society, are integral to the planning and execution of the weekend, and it comes at a point in students’ college experience when they tend to be most involved,” Walo said. “It’s one of the greatest opportunities for parents to see their children at a real high point of their Harvard experience, demonstrating leadership and connecting with faculty, tutors, and peers.”Faust’s encouragement to value adaptability and flexibility echoed in faculty presentations on Saturday, when hundreds of family members packed Harvard classrooms to hear them speak. More than 200 parents attended a lecture by Richard Wrangham, Ruth B. Moore Professor of Biological Anthropology, on “How Cooking Made Us Human.”During his presentation, Wrangham suggested that our ancient ancestors valued fire for its protection from predators, and mused that a serendipitous accident of food falling into the fire may have led to a direct change in human physiology. Cooked meat requires less energy for digestion, and provides greater energy than raw food does. When cooking became a central part of our ancestors’ lives, he said, they began a physiological shift that is still happening.Other parents chose to explore Harvard’s grounds. Some followed in their children’s steps through Widener Library, getting an up-close look at Harvard’s Gutenberg Bible during a special tour. Research librarians shared how the libraries supported student needs, while specialists from several libraries answered questions about collections.“The libraries play an integral role in supporting students’ research and learning,” said Laura Farwell Blake, head of services for academic programs, who helped welcome parents to Widener. “Parents are deeply engaged in their children’s education, so it’s important for us to give them a full view into their child’s scholarship.”By bringing in library experts, Blake said, parents had the opportunity to both experience Harvard’s resources and “explore the jewels that are the libraries.”In her closing remarks, Faust reminded parents and juniors that their time to explore Harvard is winding down, as commencement is less than 500 days away. She counseled juniors to use each day wisely and to continue to stretch themselves.“Take the opportunity to break free from familiar patterns,” Faust suggested. “Take a chance on an idea or an ideal. Be thankful for ‘yes,’ but be open to ‘no.’”
Some people came to drink kombucha and eat lamb sandwiches. Others came to study organic chemistry, smack pingpong balls, and breathe some fresh air.Jasmine Boussem and Jennifer Jones came to the redesigned plaza outside Harvard’s Science Center in search of smokers. “We’re not finding many,” Jones, a research assistant in the Department of Psychology, said with a laugh yesterday.Jones and Boussem, a fellow researcher, made their way through the plaza’s minimalistic tables and wavy benches looking for candidates for a study on smoking habits, but the plaza crowd leaned more toward bicycles than cigarettes. Yet they did find themselves among other psychology researchers, drawn to the eclectic lunchtime mix of students, faculty, and tourists.“It’s a natural place for people to congregate,” Boussem said, cradling a clipboard in her arms.Part of Harvard’s Common Spaces program, the project to transform the former thoroughfare over Cambridge Street into a comfortable destination was completed in late spring. The result is a hard walking surface, metal tables and chairs, wooden benches, ginkgo and sumac trees, lighting and safety improvements, and a large tent that houses events such as farmers markets.More enhancements are coming to the plaza as users return to it, including umbrellas for some of the tables, an ice-cream kiosk, and restoration of the Tanner Fountain, according to Lisa Hogarty, Harvard’s vice president for campus services.The 35-year-old fountain in front of the Science Center is “definitely due for some significant restoration,” Hogarty said. “We need to restore and fix all the inner plumbing and drainage systems and ultimately fix up the surface area.”The appearance of the beloved rock fountain, however, will not change.“It’s one of the most important water features we have on campus,” Hogarty said.The Harvard community will have new games and activities to enjoy on the plaza this summer, including a life-size chessboard and live performances, Hogarty said.Tuyet Cam, who will start her senior year as a Harvard psychology major this fall, said the project has been a success.“If the motivation was to bring more people here, yeah, it is,” she said. She and two classmates manned a popular table in the shade of the Meyer Gate with a sign declaring: “Want candy? Want $10? Are you age 16-25? Participate in a quick, easy PSYCH STUDY.”Arnoldo Gonzalez, a Harvard summer student, said he’s drawn to the plaza because it’s modern-looking and not “buggy.”“It includes modernism and Harvard, where buildings are not usually new,” he said, waiting to play pingpong as an errant ball flew over his head.Alison Howe, the department administrator at Harvard’s Department of East Asian Languages and Civilization, visited the refurbished plaza for the first time yesterday to enjoy a vegan sandwich.“I absolutely love it,” said Howe, who hadn’t liked it previously. Like many lunchtime diners, she said the healthier options at the nearby food trucks drew her to the site.The Whole Foods Market Streetside Chefs food truck has seen a steady stream of mealtime customers since it started working out of the plaza two months ago, manager Felipe Ribeiro said.“We’ve had a lot of repeat customers,” he said, as his coworker Chris Graham explained to a customer what a halloumi sandwich was.Ribeiro estimated that 70 percent of the food truck’s customers are affiliated with Harvard, while 30 percent are tourists or Cambridge residents. Considering the international crowd that Harvard attracts, he said it helps that he speaks Portuguese and Spanish and Graham knows French.The schedule for the food trucks and events at the Plaza can be found on the Common Spaces website.
Behavioral economics of cooperative classrooms. Alexander Peysakhovich (FAS) will use classroom simulations to study helpful behavioral economic interventions toward increased learning and cooperation in classrooms; Teaching genomics across Harvard schools. Winston Hide (SPH), William Gelbart (FAS), and Maxwell Heiman (HMS) will establish the “Harvard Genomics Teaching Group,” share pedagogical approaches, a dedicated platform for analysis, and document best practices; Faculty scholarly working papers on teaching and learning. Dan Levy (HKS) will incentivize and support the publishing of faculty studies of curricula and host related events; New gateway to STEM. Alyssa Goodman, Edo Berger, Alicia Soderberg, John Johnson, Robert Kirshner, and Dimitar Sasselov (FAS) will install an interactive, touch-screen kiosk running interactive WorldWide Telescope Tours in the Science Center and analyze usage; Integrating consequential simulations in coursework. Stephen Blyth (FAS) will integrate a trading simulation with “real” consequences into a statistics course and develop training materials for others.Spark Grant awards range from $5-$15K and are designed to help “spark” promising teaching and learning projects from idea to reality. Study of collaborative writing. Charles Lang and Suchitra Saxena (GSE) will conduct a feasibility study on the collection and analysis of behavioral data from students’ writing collaborations; The Harvard Initiative for Learning and Teaching (HILT) awarded seven Spark Grants for fall 2013 (about 10% of applicants):Repository of section plans. Kris-Stella Trump (FAS) will develop and pilot an open database of section plans for Teaching Fellows in the government department;
PETERSHAM, Mass. — In heavily wooded New England, forests are dynamic ecosystems that support a range of plants and animals, and their ability to soak up carbon also makes them an important piece of the climate-change puzzle. How changes to forests over time affect the flow of carbon through the atmosphere has long been a focus of researchers at the 3,700-acre Harvard Forest. Now, three wood-fired boilers are providing those scientists with a new tool to expand their understanding.The new, super-efficient, thermal biomass system, which provides heating to five nearby buildings, is expected to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions because it is fueled by wood that has been responsibly harvested by the woods crew. The system will allow researchers to explore how using plants can be an integral component of an actively managed forest that supports long-term conservation and local economies.“With this project, we are putting our assertions into practice and providing a practical application to our fundamental research exploring the role of forests as infrastructure,” said Forest Director David Foster. “We can address looming questions about carbon dynamics, and the linkages between conservation, use of resources, and the way our land can figure in as a solution toward climate change.”The Harvard Forest in Petersham has long maximized using renewable sources for energy and heat. The trees used to fuel the boilers are harvested as part of a sustainable management plan. The woods crew focuses on taking low-quality material out of the forests for use as biomass, therefore improving the growth and quality of trees with a higher economic and ecological value.This strategy is important in New England, which has seen a dramatic increase in its forests in the last 150 years. The increase has resulted in a net storage of carbon, but because most forests are not managed optimally, they may not be capturing carbon efficiently or producing wood that could be used for limited commercial purposes.“One of the very clear facts is that if you look across New England and most landscapes, it is direct impacts by people that are having the strongest effect on changing natural process,” Foster said. “Our recent ‘Changes to the Land’ report showed that the greenest scenario for the long-term viability of nature and society is not only to conserve but actively to manage the land.”Standing in front of the new facility are crew members Lucas Griffith (from left), Roland Meunier, Ron May, and John Wisnewski. Photo by Colin DurrantThe decades-long, interdisciplinary research projects in place in the Harvard Forest focus on tracking carbon emissions in the air, measuring how much of that carbon gets stored in trees and soil, and understanding how the carbon flow is affected by changes such as logging or hurricanes.“Without thinking about it, we have greatly expanded our research team,” said Foster. “Our woods crew now tracks their activities, collecting and analyzing data in order to benefit the larger research being conducted here.”Carbon emissions are a major contributor to global climate change, so an improved understanding of what role forests play in taking carbon out of the atmosphere would help policymakers and governments determine more effective strategies for conserving and managing land to improve the environment.A dedication ceremony for the facility on Tuesday attracted local, state, and federal officials, including state Senators Stephen Brewer and Mark Pacheco and Steve Marshall, the U.S. Forest Service assistant director for cooperative forestry. A dozen Harvard undergraduates, participating in a weeklong Wintersession program, joined a tour of the field research sites. The tour was led by Bill Munger, a senior research fellow in atmospheric chemistry at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.“The Harvard Forest is truly leading by example, not only by demonstrating sustainable forest management, but also by using its renewable wood resources to provide heat and reduce the carbon footprint of its facility,” said Stephanie Cooper, assistant secretary for land and forest conservation at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs.A 2010 state report said development of large-scale biomass plants for electrical generation would be unwise because of negative effects on the forests’ diminished ability to store carbon, as well as the inefficiency of the electrical generation system.However, small-scale biomass systems for heat, like the Harvard Forest, have net-positive benefits because they are more efficient, have less impact on forests, and haul wood over less distance.Wood is fed into the boilers at least three times a day to heat a large thermal storage tank that pushes up to 100 gallons of hot water per minute to heating loops in the various buildings.“This project continues our 20-year effort to increase efficiency and move toward greater sustainability, while at the same time serving as a beautifully integrated system for science and education,” said Foster. “There is a community-wide emphasis and spirit in increasing sustainability efforts.”Harvard has a longstanding commitment to sustainability, including comprehensive green building standards and a goal to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions 30 percent by 2016, including growth. As part of this commitment, additional sustainability efforts at the forest include a 10-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array, a gray-water recycling system, and using wood for building projects.Primary support and funding for the biomass project was provided by the Harvard Forest woods crew, Harvard Forest Director of Administration Edythe Ellin, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, and the U.S. Forest Service: Northeastern Area.
For Huntington Lambert, who took the reins at Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education and the Extension School three years ago, coming to Cambridge was a sort of homecoming.Lambert still remembers when his mother studied at the Extension School while he was growing up in neighboring Dover. The School has changed a lot since, but the open-enrollment model remains in place, a draw for a wide range of nontraditional students. Besides the Extension School, which offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, the Division of Continuing Education includes the Summer School for high school students preparing for college, development programs for working professionals, and the Institute for Learning in Retirement. Every year, the division serves 20,000 students from more than 120 countries.The Gazette sat down with Lambert to talk about highlights of his first three years on the job, the growth of the Extension School, and the role of technology in what he called an “era of lifelong learning.”GAZETTE: Your mother took classes at Harvard Extension School when you were young. And later on, you taught at night while you were raising a family and had a full-time job. How do you think these two experiences prepared you for this job?LAMBERT: My mother disappeared at nights to go back to school. Roll the clock forward 30 years, and I started teaching at an M.B.A. program at night, and suddenly, I was the parent — with a full-time job with kids at home — who disappeared at night. Ten, 15 years later, I ended up as dean of the Extension School and a whole division that teaches at night to adults. The magic moment came when, after I became dean here, I had my mother come to a graduation ceremony. She had graduated but never came to the ceremony. It was going complete circle, from Mom disappearing to giving her a degree from where she had disappeared.GAZETTE: Before you came here, you created and led the Colorado State University Global Campus, an all-online public university. Can you tell us more about this?LAMBERT: At Colorado State University, I got deeply involved in the economics of the state. That’s when I discovered that there were 750,000 people just in Colorado alone who started college and never finished. I got the entrepreneurial bug, and a team of us went off and started an online university. The belief was that we could build an online university from scratch that was public, half the price and twice as good as the University of Phoenix. The first class was in the fall of 2008, and by the end of 2010, we had 3,000 students. Now it has 15,000 students. The idea was to use online technology to teach this adult population who needed to be re-educated to join the knowledge community. One of my jokes was that if we were really successful, the University of Phoenix would leave Colorado, and they did. They couldn’t compete with us. Everything was going along fine, and Harvard called.GAZETTE: What attracted you to Harvard?LAMBERT: I was interested in Harvard because the mission of the Extension School intrigued me. John Lowell Jr. created the Lowell Institute in 1835, which was the Extension School’s precursor. He had faculty teaching evening courses that were for “the women and men of Boston,” and they charged the equivalent of two bushels of wheat. The idea of having courses open to the public goes all the way back to that. You can still do this today; you can pursue an undergraduate degree through the Extension School for $40,000 and a graduate degree for $25,000. We can extend Harvard to the part-time learner with the academic ability, curiosity, and drive to succeed. Whom we serve, the part-time student, is what makes us unique from the other Harvard Schools that focus primarily on full-time learners.GAZETTE: How would you compare the students of 1910, when the school was founded, to the students of today?LAMBERT: In those days, the dominant theme was individual-course takers. People came for personal growth. They had never studied Shakespeare, and they wanted a Shakespeare course taught by a Harvard faculty member. Today 96 percent of our students tell us they’re taking courses for professional gain. Now roughly half of our students take a single course, and the other half are pursuing certificates or degrees to get promotions or switch jobs.GAZETTE: What about the mission of the school? Has it changed over the years?LAMBERT: Our mission was and is to extend Harvard to the general public. The biggest change I made since I got here was to rearticulate the mission from “what we do” to “whom we serve.” We’re one of 12 degree-granting Schools at Harvard. The other Schools primarily serve full-time students. Our School largely serves part-time learners, adult learners, nontraditional students.GAZETTE: Who gets to teach at the Extension School?LAMBERT: Fifty-two percent of Harvard Extension School instructors are Harvard affiliates, and the remainder are faculty from other schools and industry professionals. For our learners, this combination of Harvard academics and industry professionals gives them the best of both worlds.GAZETTE: You’ve been at the helm of the Extension School for three years. What are the highlights of your tenure?LAMBERT: I restructured the division to align the whole organization around student success. And for the first time in the division’s history, we’re known by the other Harvard Schools. We made an effort to share what we know with the other Schools as they go online. We partner with them when they want to reach the part-time learner. In the past, we’ve never had any relationship with the other Harvard Schools, and now we know each other and are working together. For much of our history we sat on the edge of Harvard, purposely ignored and purposely hiding, and now I feel we’re really a part of Harvard. The other Schools understand who we are and whom we serve.GAZETTE: How has the perception about the Extension School changed over the years?LAMBERT: The biggest deal is for people to understand that we serve part-time learners, nontraditional students. If you can get in to Harvard College or any of the graduate schools and attend full-time, you should do it. But if you have a job or you have to keep working because you have a family, then you can be a part of Harvard through the Extension School and receive a high-quality education. We have an open-enrollment policy, meaning anyone can register for a course. However, we have a unique admissions process for our degree programs whereby students take classes first and earn three Bs or better to qualify to be admitted to a degree. This “earn your way in” admission policy provides a second chance for working adults who may have started a degree years ago elsewhere. In the end, only 32 percent of those who want to pursue an undergraduate degree earn the grades for admission. So for adult part-time learners, we’re very selective. For students who are admitted to a program, our average graduation rate is 85 percent, which is phenomenal.GAZETTE: How do you think online education is changing higher education?LAMBERT: Online has two stories: The first story is online technology, which lets you scale courseware infinitely at near-zero cost, and has resulted in MOOCs and millions of people sharing this experience. What it hasn’t demonstrated is whether learning scales. One of the things I’ve observed is that learning is an intensely personal human activity. So whenever we design online courses, we design them with human contact and support. Online courses have a teaching assistant for every 25 students. We have added “hybrid” courses, which are online with a required weekend on campus. They’re our highest-rated courses. But many of our courses are still small courses on campus at night where people sit around tables to talk about things.GAZETTE: Is an online degree comparable to an on-campus degree?LAMBERT: They’re different experiences. When you come to do a four-year residential undergraduate degree, you’re a young person and you take a big block of time out of your life, and you learn in an intense environment. Our adult learners are looking for something different. They want the academic component to help fuel their professional career and can’t spend the time for the rest.Also, it’s important to note that none of our degrees can be earned entirely online. We think coming to campus for in-person interaction with faculty and fellow students is an important part of the degree experience, so each of our degrees has some residential component. The opportunity to study on the Harvard campus is part of what makes our programs special.GAZETTE: When you first came to Harvard, the division offered 200 online courses. Now it offers more than 450. What’s the role of the Extension School in expanding the University’s digital footprint?LAMBERT: The most fundamental thing we do is access, innovation, and economic self-sufficiency. For 106 years, we’ve been the place where Harvard faculty come to try ideas and bring successes back to the classroom. If you look back in our history, we were teaching radio courses in the 1920s, we were doing television courses in the 1950s, and online courses since 1997. We have always been the place where Harvard faculty can experiment. We offer roughly 800 courses, and more than half of them are online and that’s where the enrollment growth has happened. The other area of significant growth is in professional graduate certificates. Every year we have students from over 150 countries enrolled online. Faculty tell us that global cultural diversity makes the courses even better.GAZETTE: How do you envision the future of the Extension School? What are your goals?LAMBERT: First, I want to figure out how we serve the rest of the Schools at Harvard. We already partner with the Business School and we’re talking with the School of Public Health, SEAS, and the Medical School. We’re talking to all the Schools about how we can help them extend themselves to part-time learners by sharing what we know about technology, online and enhanced teaching and learning. We want to serve as many adult learners as we can. We also want to encourage other universities to do the same. If Harvard can do it with this quality and this price, other schools can too, and the audience is so big that we really need more schools educating this population. As for Harvard, if we can extend it to this part-time audience, if we can contribute, that is a very virtuous circle, and that only makes Harvard stronger and the world a better place.
This is one in a series of profiles showcasing some of Harvard’s stellar graduates.From the day of her birth in Uganda, Agnes Igoye confronted a world where girls were not valued.Igoye’s mother, having already given birth to two girls, was expected by relatives and neighbors to produce a boy. Agnes’s arrival on March 8 (coincidentally International Women’s Day) was greeted as a bitter disappointment that bordered on “scandalous,” said Igoye, M.C./M.P.A .’17. “And so, growing up in that atmosphere, when you’re not valued as girls, even education becomes [very difficult]. Many girls don’t get the chance.”Thankfully, her parents knew the importance of education. Her father had put himself through school selling cassava roots, while her mother, a prodigy living in the bush, was “discovered” by missionary sisters who paid for her education. Both became teachers who bucked convention by insisting that their daughters (six of their eight children) get an education. It was an idea widely ridiculed.As a child, Igoye was teased relentlessly for her interest in school, even called a prostitute by one man. Not sure what the word meant, but certain it wasn’t a compliment, Igoye said she made a promise then and there to her mother.“I said, ‘I’m going to really work hard in life and succeed and embarrass this man!’” Igoye, 45, recalled with a laugh. “I didn’t know what success meant, but I just knew that I had to do the things that boys do.”Igoye’s education came under threat in the late 1980s after religious militant Joseph Kony and his violent guerrilla group, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), embarked on a violent campaign across Uganda and into neighboring countries. Kony and the LRA terrorized villages, including Igoye’s, killing and mutilating residents, burning and looting homes, and abducting children for sexual exploitation and soldiering. One of Igoye’s female cousins was a victim.With gunfire outside their door, the family fled, leaving all their possessions behind to looters. They made their way to an encampment for some of the millions displaced by Kony’s reign. It was a traumatic chapter in her life that Igoye now says fueled her zeal to protect women and children from exploitation.“Human trafficking is everywhere,” but it can have different manifestations and even different definitions depending on the country, Igoye said. “In Uganda, for us, human trafficking includes child marriage, it includes the use of children in armed conflict, it includes superstition … it includes removal of organs for witchcraft and rituals,” and it includes forced labor and servitude, street begging by children or karaoke performances and dancing for money.Despite years of turmoil, Igoye finished high school and won admittance to Uganda’s only university at the time to study social science. She earned a master’s degree at Makerere University, then went to the University of Oxford as a Fulbright/Hubert Humphrey Fellow in 2010-11 to study forced migration. This month, she will graduate from Harvard Kennedy School as a Mason Fellow in the Mid-career Master in Public Administration Program.After college, Igoye joined Uganda’s ministry of internal affairs as an immigration officer. While working at the border and at the passport office, where fraudulent documents passed regularly, she saw trafficking and transnational organized crime operations up close and wondered why the government didn’t seem to be taking them seriously and — though it wasn’t part of their job description — why immigration officers weren’t being trained to identify these violations and intercede. She persuaded the Minister of Internal Affairs that with proper instruction, officers could help root out traffickers and protect survivors being moved in and out of the country. He appointed Igoye Uganda’s first trafficking trainer and the first woman officer to hold an immigration command post. Since then, she’s taught close to 2,000 new recruits how to identify suspected traffickers and victims, and she helped develop and coordinate Uganda’s anti-trafficking efforts to meet international standards.“There’s so many things to look out for because it’s not like they grab you and take you — [many victims] go willingly” and don’t realize they’re being trafficked, she said. Victims are taught by traffickers how to respond to law enforcement questions so that they avoid detection. Officers looking for telltale signs are essential.While abductions do occur, most trafficking today is done by professionals who recruit through social media or enlist help from a potential victim’s family or friends. Too often, parents are tricked into thinking they are helping their children seize a golden opportunity to study abroad or secure a high-paying job in the U.S. or Europe.“The challenge in Uganda is unemployment; people need to work. [Recruiters] lie to you that they got you this fantastic job, and when you get there, it’s not that job, it’s prostitution” or forced labor, perhaps in the Middle East, she said. Igoye is now the national training manager and deputy national coordinator of Uganda’s anti-trafficking task force.In June, she returns to Uganda’s capital, Kampala, to open a much-needed support center for survivors of trafficking. Armed with a $50,000 award from fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg’s foundation, Igoye hopes the “Dream Revival Center” will help fill an aching void. Uganda offers few services for those who’ve been trafficked and too often, even if survivors do escape, they find themselves no longer welcome by family and friends or left without money or a place to stay. With no one to trust, victims call in the middle of the night to have Igoye take them to her home. But after two law enforcement colleagues were shot dead recently, Igoye says it’s not safe to take victims in.She’s careful but fatalistic about her life’s work. “If they want to get you, they get you. But I’ve also settled for the idea that I’d rather die doing something like this than dying in my sleep. It would be boring!” she mused.Ultimately, Igoye hopes the center will allow survivors to reclaim their lives and pursue justice. “We often don’t win cases in court because traffickers … know where to get the survivors” and “make them withdraw cases,” she said.Between classes, Igoye speaks to groups across the country, including the United Nations, the State Department, and law enforcement and anti-trafficking professionals. She also raises awareness and promotes advocacy for girls and women to groups of university and high school students. Last summer, she visited a Las Vegas clinic with Nevada’s U.S. senators, met with trafficked women being held at area detention centers, participated in a raid to rescue 100 trafficked children, and went to the U.S.-Mexico border to discuss border management with patrol guards. Recently, she was chosen by the Clinton Global Initiative University to mentor participants working in criminal justice, and she’s working with the BBC on a documentary about trafficking.Igoye said leaving the front lines to spend a year at Harvard has been both intellectually rewarding and a respite from the horrors she deals with daily.“It’s not just about what you learn in class, it’s the confidence you get. Because I’m thinking, how did I end up here, there are so many smart people? And they drum it into you: You deserve to be here,” she said. “So, you get all that out of your head and then you just go for whatever you want. That’s the beauty of being accepted in a school like this.”And what’s next?“Eventually, I should run for office,” Igoye said. “With this education, they can no longer say ‘she’s not qualified,’ so who knows?”
Harvard University on Monday unveiled plans for the development of a new hub for arts innovation on North Harvard Street in Allston.The ArtLab will feature spaces that allow faculty, students, and artists to cross media and academic boundaries to explore possibilities in sensory experience and social cognition. The lab will also host exhibitions and performances, bringing together Harvard, its growing Allston campus, and the community.“The ArtLab will be more than just a space — it will be an important addition to Harvard’s burgeoning arts environment, a home where faculty, staff, and students can engage in the kinds of interdisciplinary collaboration both within and beyond the curriculum that is a hallmark of Harvard’s strong and diverse arts community,” said Harvard President Drew Faust. “The ArtLab also represents our firm commitment to ensuring that creative and artistic innovation are at the heart of our campus. I have no doubt it will both complement and benefit from what is already a vibrant and growing arts community in Allston.”The ArtLab will further amplify the importance of arts-practice research and collaboration at Harvard. Since the 2008 Report of the Task Force on the Arts, the University has developed academic programs, recruited renowned artists for the faculty, and hosted notable artists from around the world. It has also invested significantly in a network of physical spaces dedicated to the arts, for which the ArtLab will serve as an important connecting point.“At Harvard, art spaces have historically been designed and situated discipline by discipline,” said Dean of Arts and Humanities Robin Kelsey, co-chair of the ArtLab Steering Committee. “But our faculty and student artists want to collaborate across boundaries, to mix performance and video, soundscapes and dance, engineering and art. The ArtLab will give them a space to mingle and experiment, free from the usual restraints of school, department, or medium.”The 9,000-square-foot structure, to be located on North Harvard Street in Barry’s Corner, will offer spaces for film, theater, dance, and media. The ArtLab will house sound-editing stations, a recording studio, and space for rehearsal, improvisation, and informal performance. Plans call for the lab to host visiting and local artists, providing them with flexible studio spaces.The ArtLab design features sizable glass portions at street level to showcase the creative process. The use of cast materials will create a simple aesthetic, one that supports a diversity of active uses and flexible workshop functions.The construction material palette includes a mix of industrial, recyclable, and reusable materials, allowing for natural light and a street-level view of the activity inside. The building was designed by Berlin-based Barkow Leibinger Architekten. The local architect is Sasaki of Watertown.The Boston Planning and Development Agency requires Harvard to file an amendment to its 2013 Institutional Master Plan to secure regulatory approval for the ArtLab.“This is a new way of approaching art-making on campus,” said Harvard Provost Alan Garber. “The new space, in proximity to the Harvard Business School, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and the i-lab cluster will give Harvard faculty and their students an opportunity to cross boundaries of media and discipline in new and exciting ways.”“The ArtLab will be a key contributor to the artistic ecosystem in Allston by leveraging collaborations with the Ed Portal, the Ceramics Studio, the i-lab cluster, and Zone 3,” said Executive Vice President Katie Lapp. “We’re incredibly excited about the partnerships and new artistic methods that will no doubt take shape at the ArtLab, and are confident that the entire space will be a significant asset to Barry’s Corner.”The ArtLab plan comes as Harvard continues to strengthen its partnerships with the community, and as the Allston campus continues to grow and thrive. Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh recently joined Faust at the groundbreaking for the upcoming renovation of the historic William F. Smith Field in Allston. Just last week Trader Joe’s opened its doors in Barry’s Corner, and the Zone 3 initiative on Western Avenue continues to offer exciting programs and events.In the 2016–2017 academic year, the Harvard Ed Portal offered more than 200 programs for the community, including dozens of arts events, 11 film screenings, and performances by three Grammy winners. Through the Ed Portal, Harvard also provided scholarships to local residents to use the Harvard Ceramics Studio in Allston, further contributing to arts in the neighborhood.If approved, construction on the ArtLab could begin as soon as the summer of 2018, and finish early the next year.
Like many kids growing up in the 1930s, George Abrams ’54, LL.B. ’57, made marbles and baseball cards his earliest beloved collections. Fast-forward 80 years and Abrams is one of the world’s most celebrated collectors of drawings from the Dutch Golden Age, eager to ensure his cherished art is cherished by others for decades to come.Last week, Abrams announced a gift of 330 16th- to 18th-century Dutch, Flemish, and Netherlandish drawings from the Maida and George Abrams collection to the Harvard Art Museums. The trove includes four works by Rembrandt and a number of drawings by the artist’s pupils, and adds to more than 140 previous gifts to the Harvard Art Museums by Abrams and his wife, who died in 2002. The couple gave 110 drawings in 1999 and bequeathed more works in subsequent years. With the combined gifts, Harvard now has the most comprehensive holding of 17th-century Dutch drawings outside of Europe.The new collection, said Martha Tedeschi, the museums’ Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director, “gives us incredible depth and breadth.”“Before we had great examples of some of the major hands of the period,” she said. “But now, when you can see multiple works by multiple artists or works that represent a whole career or pockets of material where you have a whole school, you can see the way that artists were speaking to each other and looking at each other’s work. You can use the collection in a very different way and teach from it in a very different way.”The opportunity to help educate future generations of curators was key to Abrams’ decision to give the works to the museums. No less so was Harvard’s longtime commitment to drawings.“Harvard was the center of the interest in drawings for the 20th century, and Paul Sachs trained many of the drawing scholars and curators and collectors,” said Abrams of the former director of the Fogg Museum, who was so devoted to the study of drawings that he donated his own collection to the University.George Abrams ’54, LL.B. ’57, at the Harvard Art Museums art study center with works from his collection of Dutch art. On Friday Abrams promised a gift of 330 drawings from the Dutch Golden Age to Harvard.Abrams became a savvy student of Dutch art, learning from a number of Harvard-trained experts, including Seymour Slive, Agnes Mongan, and William W. Robinson, the former Maida and George Abrams Curator of Drawings. As his collection grew, he also took on the role of teacher, hosting Harvard students at his home for seminars and to study his work, and frequently meeting with curators-in-training to share his knowledge of the field.Maida and George Abrams Curator of Drawings Edouard Kopp called Abrams’ approach to collecting a “combination of passion, of skill, of clarity of vision, of remarkable persistence.” The end result, said Kopp, “is this very cohesive and remarkable ensemble.”The Harvard Art Museums deepened its support of research, scholarship, and hands-on learning with its multiyear renovation completed in the fall of 2014, which included the expansion of the Art Study Center, a vast space on the fourth floor devoted to each of the three museums (the Fogg Museum, Busch-Reisinger Museum, and Arthur M. Sackler Museum).There on a recent afternoon Abrams sat surrounded by several drawings that are part of the museums’ current exhibit “The Art of Drawing in the Dutch Golden Age, 1590-1630: Selected Works from the Abrams Collection.” The Harvard alumnus spoke to the importance of preserving the art he has carefully collected and curated, for future generations. “Drawings have existed for hundreds of years and we want them to continue to exist,” said Abrams. “The best way to ensure that is to have really good examples available for young people to look at, and understand, and work on.”Art has been a lifelong passion for Abrams, an attorney whose first exposure to the Dutch masters came during a summer job in the Netherlands while he was a student at Harvard Law School. Later he and his wife became a collecting team. While visiting various galleries and dealers on a trip to Europe in 1961 they gravitated to the Dutch drawings, partly because of the subject matter.“They were about everyday things and about things that we could relate to very easily,” Abrams said, noting that price also came into play: “The Dutch were considered a little plebian and didn’t have quite the cachet of the French or the Italian intellectual power.”Through the years the couple’s tastes complemented each other. George kept a close eye on the provenance and his wife looked out for when a work had “too much history and not enough art.”“Maida would sometimes make me rethink what I was doing,” said Abrams. “I once found a drawing, a portrait of a rather unattractive man by kind of a rare artist. I said, ‘Rare artist, isn’t that something of interest?’ and she said, ‘It’s the ugliest drawing I’ve ever seen.’ So we didn’t get it.”Much of what they did get has made its way to Harvard, to the benefit of scholars and students.Tedeschi said the latest gift will “find a new life” in the study centers and in the “context of the teaching that we do.”She added: “There’s still a lot to be uncovered in this collection and it will be wonderful for more advanced students, graduate students to have this incredibly rich cache of drawings to think about mining for dissertation topics or their own original research.”The Abrams gift follows a major donation of Dutch works to the Museum of Fine Arts and the announcement of the Center for Netherlandish Art at the Boston museum. Tedeschi called the timing of the Abrams gift “exciting” and said she anticipates future collaborations with the MFA around the two collections.“It makes absolute sense to look at how the two sets of collections speak to each other. We are looking forward to collaborating. I can imagine all kinds of seminars and scholars’ days and workshops on both sides of the river.”
Can you love the art but hate the artist? That vexing question, a thorn in the side of critics and connoisseurs for generations, has resurfaced repeatedly in recent months in the wake of the #MeToo movement.New Yorker music critic Alex Ross ’90 waded into the discussion on Thursday at Harvard’s Paine Hall, an airy performance space where a frieze spells out the names of some history’s most revered men of music. Delivering the Music Department’s 2018 Louis C. Elson Lecture, Ross homed in on one of those men, German composer Richard Wagner, a titan of 19th-century culture whose creative genius has long been complicated, and often overshadowed, by his anti-Semitism.For 10 years, Ross has been at work on “Wagnerism: Art in the Shadow of Music,” a book that explores the composer’s influence on artistic, intellectual, and political life.“It’s a massive subject because Wagner may be, for better or worse, the most widely influential figure in the history of music,” said Ross, who counts Baudelaire, Du Bois, Eliot, Kandinsky, and Mann among the artists and writers who fell under the composer’s spell.“Wagnerian” has become a synonym for “grandiose, bombastic, overbearing, or simply very long,” added Ross, noting that the term has been applied to everything from monsoons to “Fight Club” to “the tantrums of Tennessee Williams, according to Tennessee Williams himself.”“Yet of the various Wagnerisms, the one with which most people are familiar is the Nazi version,” said Ross, referring to Hitler’s embrace of the composer’s work.Alex Ross, music critic of the New Yorker, delivers the Louis C. Elscon lecture at Paine Music Hall. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff PhotographerIf that idea is indisputable, Ross thinks it is less clear whether Wagner’s anti-Semitism laid the foundation for Hitler’s hate. He also questioned the depth of Wagner’s presence in Nazi culture.Hitler was introduced to Wagner early in his life, but his radicalism didn’t begin to take shape until years later, during his service as a German soldier in World War I. And though his rhetoric may have echoed Wagnerian ideas, there’s little evidence that the Nazi leader “absorbed Wagner’s more challenging themes,” said Ross, who sees the composer’s political influence as “greatly overstated.”Instead of dwelling on this disconnect, the author is most interested in “how the cult of art resonates into our own time and how we might learn from its persistence.”The prevalence of Wagner’s music in popular culture, including its use in films such as the racist epic “Birth of a Nation” and the Vietnam saga “Apocalypse Now,” has “a jolting effect,” said Ross, and makes us “think about the ways in which the darker side of the American genius employs its own art, a cult of popular art, to exercise its power.”The reality of Wagner’s ugly political views means he can no longer be idealized, said Ross. Yet, “to equate him with Hitler ignores the complexity of his achievement and in the end does little more than grant Hitler a posthumous victory. The necessary ambivalence of Wagnerism today can play a constructive role: It can teach us to be generally more honest about the role that art plays in the world.“In Wagner’s vicinity, we cannot claim to fantasies of the pure, autonomous work of art. We cannot forget how art unfolds in time and unravels in history. And so Wagner is liberated from the mystification of great art. He becomes something more unstable, perishable, and mutable. Incomplete in himself, he requires the most active and critical kind of listening.”One audience member wondered how Ross can continue to enjoy the composer’s work in light of his anti-Semitism. Ross said he is haunted by the same question “every time I see Wagner.”Whether it’s a “Heil” heard onstage or some particularly disturbing language in a libretto, all of Wagner’s operas contain a moment that “jolts me out of whatever kind of dreamlike immersion in the drama and the music I have achieved.”Even so, while it may be a loss not to be able to experience Wagner today as a 19th-century listener did — with a “kind of total bewitchment” — current and future generations have a chance to approach the music with a deeper, more nuanced understanding, Ross said.“I think this disturbing kind of intervention of reality and history might make for almost a deeper experience, certainly a more complex one. And so we shift from a kind of adoration and immersion to an experience that has this critical dimension to it. So we are always aware, we are always a little wary of Wagner. We should be.”
Harvard Yard woke from summer slumber on Monday even as a heat wave bore down on the region, with first-years taking a break from hefting boxes and suitcases into their dorms to exchange greetings with fellow members of the Class of 2022.Students and their families were welcomed by two other first-years — President Larry Bacow and Edgerley Family Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Claudine Gay. Bacow and Gay joined Danoff Dean of Harvard College Rakesh Khurana and Dean of Students Katherine (Katie) O’Dair on their traditional walk around the Yard. Together, the group chatted with first-years and their parents.As the temperature climbed toward 90 degrees, teams of peer advisers and College staff were quick to provide assistance to the 1,655 students who make up the class. A record 16.6 percent of class members are the first in their families to attend college, compared with 14.9 percent last year. The group is 50.3 percent male, 49.7 percent female. African-Americans make up 14.5 percent of the class, Asian Americans 22.7 percent, Latinos 10.8 percent, and Native Americans and Native Hawaiians 2.3 percent.The first day of classes is Sept. 4. The new First-Year Retreat and Experience program was among several pre-orientation options available to students.