Fall teaching guidance

Dear faculty and staff,

I hope you are well, and that summer includes some plans for downtime and relaxation.

As you know, we are planning for education to be back in person this fall. No doubt you have begun thinking and planning for your courses next year, and we wanted to address a question that has come up frequently in the past couple of weeks.

For different reasons, a number of instructors have asked whether they can choose to teach their courses remotely. The short answer to that question is no. Our default expectation is that instructors will be teaching in person, just as we are expecting our students to be in residence and taking courses on campus, and as we are expecting our TAs to carry out their responsibilities in person. Though the past year and a half has opened our eyes to new ways of teaching, most of our courses and degree programs were designed to be in-person.

In addition, our international students – of which we have many – receive visas with the requirement that most of their courses be in-person. We do not want to create systematic inequities such that remote courses would be available to domestic students but not to our international students in residence. We have had to plan for a few of our largest core courses to have significant remote components given the ongoing uncertainty around distancing and density requirements of the university, but other than those courses and ones that are specifically designed to be online for the MPH in Epidemiology and MPH Generalist programs, we expect courses to be delivered in-person.

That said, we also want to incorporate in our primarily residential model some of the significant advantages we have learned – such as the benefits of engaging guest speakers from all over the world, and the ease of breakout groups. If you would like to discuss ways to incorporate these kinds of pedagogical approaches and/or technologies in your courses please be in touch with Sejal Vashi, Manager of Learning Design and Instructional Support, at vashi@hsph.harvard.edu.

Finally, if you believe you have extenuating circumstances and want to request an exception, please be in touch with either me or Nancy Turnbull (nturnbul@hsph.harvard.edu) as soon as possible. Any exception request will be considered in terms of the benefits for students and in light of the visa/equity concern noted above.

Thanks, as always, for all you do for our students and the educational mission of the school.

Best regards,


On behalf of the Education Planning Committee

Erin Driver-Linn, PhD 
Dean for Education  |  Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health