The Bok Center was founded in 1975 with a grant from the Danforth Foundation, a St. Louis-based foundation that provided grants for higher education. Originally named the Danforth Center for Teaching and Learning, the Center was created under the direction of Harvard President Derek Bok, with the goal of improving undergraduate education at Harvard College.
The center offers faculty, graduate student teaching fellows (TFs), and other instructors of Harvard undergraduates a wide variety of training programs and resources to promote better teaching. The Center does not serve the university as a whole but is formally attached to the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, which comprises about half of the university’s resources overall.
Bok Center services are available to anyone teaching Harvard's 6,400 undergraduates - faculty, lecturers, visiting instructors, teaching fellows and assistants, or course assistants - confidentially and without charge. The Center maintains close relations with entities providing teaching support in other Harvard faculties, as well as with those providing student services, but does not deal with undergraduates directly unless (as is true in some mathematics and computer science courses) they are actually teaching other undergraduates.
The Bok Center does not expound a single philosophy of teaching. Instead it works with instructors to develop their abilities in whichever directions they choose, by offering feedback and consultations, especially through the use of classroom videotaping. The largest number of Center clients are drawn from the ranks of graduate student Teaching Fellows, although in recent years the number of faculty making use of the Center has increased substantially.
The Bok Center's formal programs include the fall and winter conferences on teaching; microteaching (a form of supervised practice teaching); videotaping followed by private conferences; workshops in teaching in English for international teaching fellows and faculty; topic-based seminars on discussion leading, writing, science, and case studies; training for new junior faculty; production of DVDs featuring master teachers; and other services to improve undergraduate education.
The Bok Center attempts to serve the national and international higher education community by offering online documents and by publishing books and DVDs on the art of teaching. Special arrangements can be made in advance for visitors from other institutions, depending on the Center's schedule and the availability of Bok Center staff.
A 1978 article provides a glimpse into the early years of the Danforth Center. Read More
Harvard’s Teaching and Learning Center was one of the first in the nation. This article examines the history of Teaching and Learning Centers in the U.S., including a spotlight on the Danforth Center. Read More
The Danforth Center/Bok Center has been offering seminars and workshop for teaching fellows for decades. This 1980 article highlights a seminar that included instruction on teaching writing. Read More
As a farewell gesture to President Derek Bok, The Danforth Center of Teaching and Learning was renamed as the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning in May, 1991. Bok served as President of Harvard University from 1971 to 1991. Read More
This history of the Bok Center captures life at the Bok Center in 2001. Read More
In recent years, Harvard faculty are increasingly introducing active learning into their classrooms. Read More
Professor Robert Lue was named the inaugural Richard L. Menchel Faculty Director of the Bok Center in February 2011. Read More