Call for Course Proposals for Spring 2020

(deadline 23 September 2019)

The Standing Committee on Mind, Brain, and Behavior (MBB) invites proposals for undergraduate seminar courses in mind/brain/behavior for this coming spring.

Brief Overview of MBB Undergraduate Program and Seminars

Students have three ways to participate in MBB academic programs: (1) pursue an MBB “track;” (2) pursue a secondary field in MBB; or (3) simply to enroll in an MBB course. The tracks are honors programs integrated into existing undergraduate concentrations, with students required to complete a senior thesis and interdisciplinary course work. Participating concentrations are computer science, history and science, human evolutionary biology, linguistics, neurobiology, philosophy, and psychology. The secondary field (analogous to a minor) is available to students in any concentration and requires 5 MBB-related courses.

All tracks and the secondary field require students to take an interdisciplinary seminar. These upper-level courses, normally taken in the junior year, may be offered by the MBB standing committee or by individual departments. More information about the seminar program, including a listing of recent offerings, can be found at



Faculty members at the level of assistant professor or higher may offer MBB seminars. Co-instructors may be other Harvard affiliates with doctoral or terminal professional degrees. We welcome applications from any school at the university.

Course Content

The content of an MBB Seminar is fairly flexible, given that it meets some broad goals established by the MBB Standing Committee:

The course should center on a single, compelling scientific question that provides students with the ability to learn how to use an integrative approach to scientific investigation and knowledge. Students should come away with an appreciation of the advantage of bringing multiple perspectives (i.e., historical and neurological, philosophical and psychological, evolutionary and cultural) and research methods (literature-based, historical analysis, logic, lab research, field work, etc.) to bear on a scientific question.

Emphasis should be placed on how students can integrate various approaches to deepen their understanding of issues related to mind, brain, and behavior. The course content does not have to focus on all three parts of mind, brain, and behavior, but it should incorporate at least two significantly different perspectives and methods to answer a question related to at least one part of mind, brain, or behavior.

The course content should be at a relatively high level (i.e., assume familiarity with basic research methods, college-level psychology, and basic neurobiology). Students should engage deeply and critically with primary literature and with each other.

An occasional guest presenter who can provide additional material and perspectives is welcome.

Normal Course Expectations

Catalog Listing: The course will be assigned an MBB course number.

Format/Hours: The course follows a discussion or presentation and discussion format and meets once a week for two hours, usually in the afternoon or evening (1-3, 3-5, 3:45-5:45, or 6-8 p.m.).

Enrollment: Usually maximum of 15 students. Enrollment preference is given to students in MBB tracks or secondary fields; non-MBB students are welcome to enroll if space is available.

Prerequisites: Normally, Psychology 1 (Introduction to Psychological Science) and Neuroscience 80 (Neurobiology of Behavior), or equivalent. Most MBB students will have taken both these foundation courses before their junior year.

Evaluation: The course and instructor should be evaluated, and evaluation summary published, within the standard “Q” system.

Compensation: Each seminar has a budget of up to $7,000, which may include instructor compensation and/or special course expenses (e.g., course guest).

Course Renewal: Depending upon MBB funding, course ratings, enrollments, and curricular needs, the instructor may have the opportunity to teach the course multiple years.

To Apply

Please email the following information to Education Program Coordinator Shawn Harriman ( by Monday, September 23rd.

Brief “Catalog-Style” Description (for examples, see recent descriptions at

Instructor Information: Harvard title and departmental affiliation; if co-instructors, how specific instructional duties will be shared. Instructor eligibility and responsibilities for FAS courses are described at

Instructor Teaching Evaluations: Copies of student evaluations (or summaries/composite scores), especially if you have taught undergraduates and/or at Harvard before.

Course Statement: Please submit one to two pages that (1) identify the question that organizes the course, (2) note the disciplines and approaches the course will cover in considering the question, and (3) discuss how you see these contributions intersecting and integrating (or not) in moving us toward possible answers to the question.

Draft List of Major Topics/Units in the Course

Draft List of Major and/or Representative Readings (does not need to be exhaustive, the committee does not need to see a syllabus at this time)

Course Budget: Please be specific about expense categories and amounts, and please also include a note explaining any administrative support required.