Campus & Community

In the comings and goings of shopping week, first impressions matter

5 min read

Shopping week gives professors a chance to pique student interest

Shopping week is Harvard’s fast-paced tradition of students sampling different classes before choosing their course load.

“To extend the mercantile metaphor, I suspect that most faculty hope we will attract buyers, not just shoppers,” said Kay Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music, who is teaching “Current Methods in Ethnomusicology” this semester. “One must achieve a delicate balance between engaging the newcomer and setting up the course to come. Hopefully the two goals enhance each other, but they always present a challenge.”

“I know some of you only run twice a year,” he said, eliciting roars from the packed Science Center hall.

Students gather for David Cox’s standing-room-only intensive introduction to neuroscience. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Faculty members strive to make a strong first impression. Dan Lieberman, who along with Professors George Lauder and Andrew Biewener is teaching “Evolutionary Human Physiology and Anatomy,” got laughs after telling students about his interest in running and showing a slide of Primal Scream, the end-of-semester ritual when undergrads streak through the Yard.

Lieberman, the Edwin M. Lerner II Professor of Biological Sciences, said he always feels “a need to put my best foot forward when students are shopping.”

“It can be disruptive when students just get up in the middle of class to leave, but I never take this personally, and I think the benefits of shopping period to students outweigh the costs to professors,” he said.

David Cox teaches an intensive introduction to neuroscience in Vanserg Hall. The course size grew to 30 from 20 after 120 students sampled the class during shopping week last year. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer

Some students do walk out mid-class, but David Cox has had the opposite problem. The associate professor of molecular and cellular biology and of computer science recalled an unexpected crowd for the 20 slots in last year’s “Fundamentals of Neuroscience.”

“We were taken completely off-guard last year and had about 120 people show up on the first day,” he said, noting that this year the course size has been boosted to 30. “I was not so much worried about being judged by the students as I was worried about whether we were violating fire codes by cramming so many people into such a small room.”

Students listen to David Cox introduce course material for his “Fundamentals of Neuroscience” course. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Students crowd into David Cox’s class to hear the course syllabus. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Kay Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and professor of African and African American Studies, teaches “Current Methods in Ethnomusicology” inside Paine Hall. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Graduate School of Arts and Sciences students Ganavya Doraiswamy (from left) and Daniel Frim attend “Current Methods in Ethnomusicology” taught by Kay Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music and professor of African and African American Studies. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
A student is framed by a modern lamp while passing Lamont Library during shopping week. In the background are banners for Houghton Library. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Maria Park ’19 (right) receives a critique from Katie Soule, (left) teaching assistant in the Visual and Environmental Studies Department, and Professor Karthik Pandian (center) during “On Objects: A Studio Course in Sculpture, Video and Performance” in the Carpenter Center. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Camille Schmidt ’18 (left) and Georgia Bowder-Newton ’21 (right) share ideas while making cardboard creations during Karthik Pandian’s “On Objects” class in the Carpenter Center. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Mitchell Polonsky ’19 (from left), Georgia Bowder-Newton ’21, and Luke Martinez ’19 share a light moment in Karthik Pandian’s class in the Carpenter Center. Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer
Professor Erika Bailey teaches the nuances of speech in self-expression in her course “Vocal Production for Performers” in Farkas Hall. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Jhanelle Bisasor ‘18, left, responds to a question from Professor Erika Bailey, the head of voice and speech and lecturer on theater, dance, and media. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Students break into small groups to discuss variations of voice. Melissa Lago from the Divinity School, left, speaks with Anna Schuliger ’20, right, as Abraham Rebollo ’20, center, looks on. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Professor Miaki Ishii goes over the movies to be seen by students in “GeoSciFi Movies: Real vs. Fiction.” Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Alex Stewart ‘21, left, and Hugo Milner ‘21 break the ice by introducing each other to students in “GeoSciFi Movies: Real vs. Fiction,” while also sharing some personal likes and dislikes. The class is taught by Professor Miaki Ishii. Jon Chase/Harvard Staff Photographer
Sarah Lewis teaches “Vision and Justice: The Art of Citizenship” in a Harvard Art Museum seminar room. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Sarah Lewis (right) speaks with students after her class “Vision and Justice: The Art of Citizenship.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Daniel Lieberman, who is co-teaching “Evolutionary Human Physiology and Anatomy,” introduces the course material in the Science Center. Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
Students take notes during “Evolutionary Human Physiology and Anatomy.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer
The view from the multimedia booth as Daniel Lieberman lectures during “Evolutionary Human Physiology and Anatomy.” Rose Lincoln/Harvard Staff Photographer