Proposing Courses

Photo of Caroline Light discussing course

Interested in teaching in the Gen Ed program?

Tenured faculty, tenure-track faculty, and faculty with renewable teaching appointments at Harvard are welcome to propose courses for the Program in General Education.


Gen Ed courses should be designed for Harvard College students. Ideally, a suitable Gen Ed course will satisfy the following general principles (this is meant to be a helpful guide, not hard and fast criteria):

  • the title and description of the course address an urgent problem or enduring question
  • course is geared toward non-specialists
  • it is not an introduction to a scholarly discipline, nor is it centered on illustrating the methods of a particular scholarly discipline to a non-specialist audience. It may, however, deploy various disciplinary methods in order to elucidate the course concept.
  • it is unusually explicit in drawing connections between the classroom and the world beyond it, between the subject students are studying now and the people they will one day become. (If this is implicit in the submitted materials but not made explicit, we will invite faculty to make this explicit.) Such connections may be found in courses on contemporary topics, as well as in aesthetic questions that have a long history or an artistic genre or other phenomenon that has long engaged humanity.

The Standing Committee on General Education reviews proposals on a rolling basis during the fall and spring terms.  Ordinarily, faculty should submit a proposal at least one full semester in advance of the term in which they wish to offer the course.

To propose a course, please send the following materials to

  • A course title and a student-oriented description (150 to 250 words) of the course.
  • A one-sentence encapsulation of the urgent problem or enduring question the course addresses.*
  • A draft syllabus of approximately three pages that includes course/unit goals, course topics, main readings and major assignments.  If you are proposing an existing course for Gen Ed, you have the option to instead send the current syllabus along with a statement of how you would adapt the course for Gen Ed.
  • A brief summary for the committee on how the course satisfies the general principles for what makes a Gen Ed course, included above.
  • A brief explanation of why you think your course is a good fit for one of the four Gen Ed categories. Ordinarily, courses are approved for a single category.
  • A brief statement about how the proposed course differs from existing Gen Ed courses on similar topics.

We encourage you to review some logistical guidelines on our Guidance for Faculty page. You may also find it helpful to view a sample, annotated version of a Gen Ed course description. Syllabi for Gen Ed courses are available on request.

Gen Ed is happy to offer modest funds to faculty who wish to meet with colleagues over breakfast, lunch or coffee to discuss their ideas for co-teaching in Gen Ed, with the goal of proposing and ultimately co-teaching a Gen Ed course. Interested faculty are invited to contact Program in General Education Director Laura Hess for more information.

* See examples of one-sentence descriptions of urgent problems or enduring questions addressed by Gen Ed courses.

Questions about Gen Ed?

Gen Ed currently offers both in-person and remote advising.  We also welcome online questions.

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