PKAL Faculty for the 21st Century

Lilia Harvey

What works: Observations from the field

Lilia Harvey is Department Chair and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Agnes Scott College.

Faculty for the 21st Century members reflect on their experience in making a difference for their students and for the communities of which they are a part.

If a visitor were to come into your classroom/lab—the environment in which you work with students—what impression would s/he leave with?

That I really like to interact with and engage my students in the classroom and lab, but particularly in the classroom, where interaction isn’t the norm. And it isn’t just about creating a climate, but about establishing a genuine give and take in the process of teaching and learning, and conveying to my students that I’m always learning in the process of teaching.

What brought you to an interest in “advancing the frontiers of education” and to connecting your research to that work?

I have benefited tremendously early in my career from having a mentor who brought her scholarly mind to bear on what she perceived were shortcomings in the way we teach and students learn science. She taught me that scholars always approach all aspects of their work, whether in the lab or classroom, with the same level of engagement and intellectual rigor.

What kind of institutional culture needs to be in place to nurture careers of faculty actively seeking to integrate their research and teaching?

I have benefited from being at an institution that rewards both, and acknowledges that acceleration in one area can result in lesser activity in another, and that this balance will change over the course of a career. I always remind myself that I am a scholar—I’m curious, I formulate questions, I set up experiments to get answers and then I put my theories and work product before my peers. This scholarly approach to all aspects of my academic work goes a long way in helping my colleagues, peers and institution recognize and reward my efforts.