The aim of the seminar is to expand our understanding of the institutions in which we work and in which most of the intellectual labor of the world is conducted or supported. This seminar will host talks and events that present research and foster discussion about universities and other institutions of higher education. Our scope is large, encompassing explorations of the past, examinations of current issues, and informed speculation about the future. Visit our seminar's website to learn more.

Upcoming Events

Scott Gelber, Wheaton College
Grading the College: A History of Evaluating American Higher Education
Thursday, March 8, 2018 - 4:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center


This talk complicates the prevailing view of university evaluation as a market-driven and anti-intellectual endeavor. The history of evaluation reveals a significant degree of scholarly involvement in the definition and assessment of American higher education, especially its harder-to-measure academic, civic, and even aesthetic domains. Although ultimately arriving at a dim view of the fruits of these efforts, this talk reframes evaluation as a genuine intellectual endeavor that resided within the realm of twentieth-century professorial authority.

Janine de Novais, Harvard Graduate School of Education
"These Classes Equip Me": The Development of Complex Understandings of Race in College Classrooms
Thursday, March 29, 2018 - 4:00pm
Room 105, William James Hall


What is the relationship between classroom experience in academic courses on race, and students’ understanding of race? To explore this question, I analyzed data from two college courses—one focused on narratives by enslaved people, and one focused on black political thought. I found that students drew from the new knowledge they gained and the experiences they had in the courses to develop a critical and nuanced understanding of race. Students also reported that the courses “equipped them” to better engage with issues of race in their lives. I argue that this relationship between students' classroom experiences and their framing of race has implications for both contemporary higher education and the larger society.

William Kirby, Harvard University
From Berlin to Berkeley: The Making and Unmaking of the Modern Research University
Thursday, April 12, 2018 - 4:00pm
Room 133, Barker Center

Past Events 2017 - 18

Panel on "Universities’ Responsibility to Truth"
Doctoral Research on Political Participation, Elite Status, and Race and Merit
Mario Small, Harvard University
On Power and Ambiguity in the Student-Adviser Relation
Anthony Jack, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Harvard Society of Fellows
(No) Harm in Asking