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Interim FAS Fall Planning Announcement

Dear GSAS Students,

I wanted to make sure that you saw the recent communication from FAS Dean Claudine Gay, accessible on the FAS Fall 2020 Planning website, regarding the three emerging scenarios for the upcoming academic year. As you will read, Dean Gay has made the decision to move forward with remote teaching and learning for fall. 

In keeping with this announcement, GSAS is recommending that all teaching and learning be conducted remotely, including cohort-building activities. GSAS is engaging with graduate programs to assist in developing robust plans for remote activities, and your graduate programs will reach out to you once those plans are complete. Any exceptions to this policy will be decided within the School in which the class or activity is based (e.g. FAS, HMS, HBS, etc.).

The resumption of research activities has already begun, with lab-based research at a reduced level underway and a roadmap published on how to expand services and reopen University libraries and museums. Many of you have been able to continue with research and writing through this crisis, but for others, I know you are experiencing tremendous personal and academic challenges. As access to Harvard’s resources ramps up, it is my hope that the disruption to your research endeavors will begin to ease; please know you can always reach out to GSAS resources if you need help. 

I know that for many of you, pursuing your scholarship is dependent on travel and access to libraries and sites across the globe and that, for the moment, all University-related travel, both international and domestic, is prohibited. Given that the ability to pursue your research may also depend on travel and visa policies of not only the US but other countries as well, we encourage you to continue conversations with your advisor(s) about your project and goals.

GSAS is in the process of developing additional recommendations specific to our student population. Critical to our planning and advocacy work is input from students on your learning, teaching, and research experiences. By now, you should have received a request to participate in an anonymous survey, which includes questions about where students are located now and where they plan to live in the fall. The survey will close at 11:59 p.m., Eastern Time, on June 22, 2020, and I cannot emphasize enough how important it is that you participate. 

Many of you have reached out to GSAS to ask whether you should return to the area, if that is possible, or remain in your current location. I encourage you to contact your advisor and representatives in your graduate program to discuss whether your graduate studies will require you to return or whether, as in the case of students in the early years who are taking classes, you will be able to maintain academic progress from your current location. If after consultation you do decide to return, be sure to review precautions if you must travel on Harvard’s travel guidance site. Please note that due to social distancing measures, the GSAS residence halls will have very limited availability, but Harvard University Housing has availability in-line with previous years. You should apply by June 26, 2020, to be considered for their housing lottery. 

The challenges the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our work are immense, but we are beginning to see a way forward. I do hope you will help us plan and advocate for you by completing the anonymous survey.

With all best wishes,


Emma Dench

Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

McLean Professor of Ancient and Modern History and of the Classics


PS: If you have not yet had a chance to confirm your my.harvard address information, I encourage you to do so immediately. This information will enable GSAS to most effectively advocate for students and ensure that important processes, such as stipend payments, are uninterrupted.

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