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Harvard SEAS

Harvard engineering department has been established  in 2007.  Prior to establishment discussion about the organisation and the programme took shape. Its’ departure point in establishing an engineering programme for 21st century learning were:

  • Developing leaders of the world
  • Team-based innovation at the core
  • Solving engineering problems from a multidisciplinary perspective
  • And creating added value to solve the worlds’ (societal) problems by means of technological innovation

Harvard took a thorough approach. It was not only the programme which had to have breath, a liberal arts approach, but also a new take on its’ organization. So Harvard SEAS does not have departments or units. It has 1 or 2 weekly staff meetings with 80 staff members present to maximize communication between all faculty. One person or a team of faculty teaches courses for maximally 3 years, after which the course is switched to another faculty member.  Research is left to the interest of the faculty members, as long as it is cutting edge and yielding valuable results for the organization and beyond.

SEAS has around 1x students, of which one third is woman.  A major achievement in engineering. The programme has depth, breadth, fundamental engineering but grounded in liberal arts within a major research oriented university.

In the bachelor there is a strong focus on learning by doing, instructional lab. Each student does at least one research and ¾th of the programme is focused on design. Design is focused on solving world problems, where technology is the key to solutions, technology however is not enough, so thematic courses include societal, legal and governance and health perspectives, to be able to understand a problem more deeply.  Therefore , the faculty works together with other departments.

Concentration 1/3 woman, biggest amount in engineering  schools. Depth, breadth, fundamental engineering, grounding in liberal arts, within a major research oriented university. Learning by doing, instructional lab is interesting. Each of them does ¾ design experience and at least one research.  Focused on solving world problems, technology key to solutions, but it cannot be done with technology alone, societal, legal,, governance, health understanding needed to  realise these solutions.  They work together with all the other departments.  Teaching the highest priority, teaching areas, science of teaching, hands on design in the curriculum, flipping the classroom, peer review etc.

So innovating engineering education is a total package from organisational structure, to classrooms and education.  It is an invitation to have a team, which can create the whole package, not just the specialised sub-parts on the basis of individual approaches to teaching and learning.

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