Written by Jessica Barzilay
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Photo Courtesy of Sara Price
After her freshman year, Sara Price became one of Harvard's pilot students in SHARP, a humanities addition to the triad of summer research fellowships in science (PRISE), the social sciences (BLISS), and business (PRIMO). Interning on a project known as "Philosophy, Education, and Community Action," Price described the research's goal as threefold: "to thoroughly examine the philosophy and purpose of education (particularly as it applies to work in the Humanities), to utilize philosophical techniques in order to educate children in critical thinking (primarily through a partnership with the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem), and to reach out past the borders of academia with events such as Ethics Bowls for local high school students."
While Price acknowledges that humanities research may sound like an oxymoron, she said her daily tasks ranged from traditional analysis of texts to less stereotypical research activities, like event-planning. Her work took many forms; on some days, her role was something like a teacher, as she designed lesson plans. Other days, she was responsible for coordinating events with other Harvard programming, like the Ethics Bowl, which introduced philosophy to Crimson Summer Academy, an on-campus learning program for motivated high school seniors. Finally, Price examined texts on the philosophy of education for her project's "Reading Group," which met regularly throughout June.
SHARP, which stands for Summer Humanities and Arts Research Program, will enter its second year in the summer of 2014, opening up Harvard's summer research community to alternative kinds of studies. Research on the philosophy of learning and teaching is increasingly relevant in the age of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other teaching innovations.