With more than 9,000 faculty members studying everything from cancer to Sanskrit, it might seem hard to find common ground at Harvard.
“We usually live in our departments, we usually work out of our offices,” said Homi Bhabha, the Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Center at Harvard. “When the University community is brought together there is a socialization that takes place that has the ability to lead to interdisciplinary work or joint teaching.”
Such is the goal of a new series of faculty events sponsored by the Office of the Provost, designed to periodically gather faculty in one place and get them talking. The first event of the academic year was held in September, with more than 200 faculty members gathering at Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study for a talk with world-renowned chef Ferran Adria.
Over bites cooked by local chefs, Adria spoke of the critical importance of collaboration between academia and the culinary world in stimulating substantive discussions about food processes in the contexts of scientific, social, and historical perspectives.
“It really opened the work we do here to the wider world,” said Bhabha, who attended the event. “Bringing the faculty together for an event of this kind was remarkable and I congratulate the Office of the Provost for making it happen.”
Two events are scheduled for Oct. 21. A breakfast conversation titled “The Faculty Search Process: The Art & Science of Selecting Outstanding Faculty” will be held from 9 to 10:30 a.m. at the Harvard Faculty Club’s Theatre Room. Later that day, faculty will have the opportunity to view rare book collections and exhibits at “Behind the Scenes at the Houghton Library,” which will take place in the library from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
“The idea is to connect faculty, not just to each other, but to the resources and treasures across the University,” said Liza Cariaga-Lo, assistant provost for faculty development and diversity. “It’s really a unique opportunity; only at Harvard could this possibly happen.”
Arachu Castro, an assistant professor of social medicine at Harvard Medical School, has attended a few of the provost-sponsored faculty events and said she appreciates the opportunity to socialize with colleagues she might not otherwise meet.
“It’s more casual and relaxed,” she said. “Usually, we’re all running to one place or another.”