Letter from the Dean
Engineering and applied sciences at Harvard has never looked brighter. Our enrollments are growing, we’re adding innovative new programs, we are benefitting from the unprecedented philanthropic investment of John A. Paulson (for whom our School and my deanship are now named), and we are on the cusp of expanding our campus to include a purpose-built, state-of-the-art Science and Engineering Complex.
Even though we trace our Harvard lineage back to the establishment of the Lawrence Scientific School in 1847, we were launched as a school of engineering and applied sciences in 2007. Since then, our student body has grown rapidly. Today, the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) excels in interdisciplinary research and teaching, and provides a world-class environment for Harvard researchers.
“Convergence” is a term that is being used with increasing frequency to describe a multi-disciplinary approach to solving complex societal problems. It was the subject of a 2014 National Academies report entitled Convergence: Facilitating Transdisciplinary Integration of Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Engineering, and Beyond, (authored by a committee that included former SEAS Dean Cherry Murray). I was struck, in particular, by the words “and beyond” at the end of the title. Harvard excels in research at the interfaces between engineering and the life and physical sciences. Many of the next great challenges lie “beyond” those interfaces. Solving them will require close partnering with not only science and engineering, but also with the arts and humanities, social sciences, and with law, medicine, business, public policy, and other disciplines in which Harvard’s professional schools lead the world
Collaboration within SEAS and beyond is leading to innovations that will help address issues such as curing chronic diseases; addressing climate change; meeting the global demand for sustainable energy; ensuring cybersecurity and protecting privacy in a digital world; providing clean water, food, and a reliable infrastructure for a growing world population. Our focus on teaching and learning—as well as research—will also lead to 21st century advances in pedagogy, hands-on education, and the fusing of aesthetic considerations with the quantitative aspects of design. This is but a small sampling of the areas of fruitful collaboration that can be advanced by SEAS in partnership with colleagues in other parts of Harvard.
Whether you are committed to advanced study, just like tinkering, or are merely curious about the marvelous potential for engineering and science to change the world for the better, I hope you will explore what Harvard Engineering has to offer.