Readings for Conversations with Faculty on the Liberal Arts

August 8, 2017
Tuesday, August 08, 2017
Dear Members of the Class of 2021:

Harvard’s orientation, known as Opening Days, will welcome you into the community and prepare you for life as a college student by introducing you to the many intellectual, social, and personal experiences that lie ahead. It will also give you time to get to know your classmates and advisers. Opening Days includes two facilitated discussions, both of which have required readings for you to complete before arriving on campus: Conversations with Faculty on the Liberal Arts is outlined below, and Community Conversations will be announced later this week.

On Monday, August 28, you will participate in a seminar-style discussion with a member of the faculty on the meaning and purpose of a liberal arts and sciences education. The education you will receive at Harvard College is designed to help you reflect on all aspects of the life you will lead both within and beyond the academy. A Harvard education is transformative – you will learn to develop an independent mind by questioning assumptions, thinking critically, evaluating counter-arguments, researching new fields, and collaborating with your peers. In preparation, we ask you to read and view the following materials on the FDO website:
  • Introductory video
  • "Apology" from Plato's Five Dialogues
  • Chapters one and four from W.E.B. DuBois’s Souls of Black Folk
Seminars are most successful when you have completed the reading, are prepared to discuss and debate, and are open to new ideas. We trust you will find the readings thought-provoking, and expect you will come to the discussion sessions prepared to participate in an invigorating dialogue. We strongly encourage you to set aside time to read the selections before coming to campus. Once you are here, you will be very busy and we want you to have ample opportunity to consider and reflect on the issues raised in the texts.


Rakesh Khurana
Danoff Dean of Harvard College

Jay Harris
Dean of Undergraduate Education

Tom Dingman
Dean of Freshmen

Upcoming Communications
  • Readings for Community Conversations
  • Final checklist and instructions for move-in day
  • Notification about your academic adviser and course placement recommendations