Karen Brennan

Karen Brennan

  • Associate Professor of Education; Affiliate in Computer Science


Karen Brennan is an associate professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research is primarily concerned with the ways in which learning environments (in and out of school, online and face-to-face) can be designed to support young people's development as computational creators. Many of Brennan's research and teaching activities focus on constructionist approaches to designing learning environments, encouraging learning through designing, personalizing, connecting, and reflecting, and maximizing learner agency. Some current projects include: Cultures of Computing, an examination of how K-12 teachers design learning environments to support novice programmers, focusing on teachers' design intentions and how those intentions are enacted; ScratchEd, a model of professional learning for educators who support computational literacy with the Scratch programming language, involving the development of a 25,000-member online community, a network of in-person events, and curricular materials; and Cultivating Computational Thinking, an investigation of the concepts, practices, and perspectives that young people develop through computational design activities. Before joining HGSE, Brennan completed her PhD at the MIT Media Lab, where she was a member of the team that develops the Scratch programming language and online community.

Contact Information

Office:Longfellow 334
Office Phone:(617) 495-4341

Positions & Employment

Associate Professor of Education, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education (2016–present)

Affiliate in Computer Science, Harvard University, School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (2018– present)

Visiting Scholar, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Media Arts and Sciences (2013–present)

Assistant Professor of Education, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education (2012–2016)