Welcoming Visitors to Courses

The Harvard campus is a place of lively intellectual exchange, and visitors play a crucial role in that. It's our privilege to be able to host a wide array of visitors who hold a wide array of views. Whether you are joining a class, giving a talk, or meeting with colleagues, we hope that your visit will be productive and stimulating.

Fall 2022 Class Visitors

As you plan for this semester, you have several options to consider if you will be inviting guests to speak in your class.

  1. In-Person Visitor + In-Person Class
  2. Remote Visitor + In-Person Class
  3. Remote Visitor + Remote Class (used sparingly)

1. In-Person Visitor + In-Person Class

Please refer to Environmental Health & Safety (https://www.ehs.harvard.edu) regarding the latest University guidance around visitors on campus for the upcoming academic year.

As of July 27, 2021, current guidance is that visitors are permitted on campus subject to University policies, guidance, and safety measures. https://www.ehs.harvard.edu/system/files/harvard_university_guidance_for_on_campus_activity_0.pdf (HarvardKey login required)


2. Remote Visitor + In-Person Class

Another option is to have a guest join your class virtually. Some courses, based on their size and teaching location, may be able to bring in remote guests without significant technical support. Other courses may prefer to request technical assistance from Education Support Services.

a. Hosting a Visitor with Technical Assistance/Consultation from ESS

The Education Support Services (ESS) team is ready to help you understand what’s possible in your classroom and to consult about the support necessary for a successful remote visit. You should definitely contact ESS if any of the following applies to your course:

  • Your enrollment is large (25+ in-room attendees);
  • You are hosting the guest in a large room with an installed sound system;
  • You will be hosting more than one guest at the same event;
  • Your class is already being recorded for other reasons;
  • You and your teaching team do not feel comfortable operating classroom technology;
  • What you want to do during the visit is complex.

Send ESS an email at ess@fas.harvard.edu including your course name and number, your assigned classroom, your expected enrollment, the date on which you will have a visitor, and a description of what you plan to do with the visitor. Please contact ESS at least 10 days prior to the date of the class visit.

b. Hosting a Visitor without Technical Assistance

Those hosting visitors in seminar or other small classrooms who feel comfortable hosting a Zoom session and sharing it to the in-room projection screen may opt to go ahead without support. Although it seems simple, there are some helpful practices and potential pitfalls of which to be aware. Take a look at this DIY Remote Guest checklist as you plan.

c. Managing Visitor Interaction with Students During the Visit

Whether or not you received technical assistance with set up, you and your teaching team will want to prepare in advance for how best to facilitate questions and interaction between the students and the guest. There are two simple options for facilitating student questions:

  1. Repeating questions/comments. Have students ask their questions in the room and then repeat them for the benefit of the online guest. This is the simplest, lowest-tech option.
  2. Moderating questions/comments via chat. Use Poll Everywhere or Slack for students to submit questions online. The faculty member or a member of the teaching staff can then select questions from among those submitted OR the visitor can be given direct access to the incoming questions. This option has the benefit of permitting moderation of questions. Poll Everywhere also provides a “vote up” feature that can help prioritize the most salient questions.

Because remote visitors likely won’t be able to hear student voices in the room, more fluid interaction between students and the guest requires significantly more technical planning in advance, and may be easier in some classrooms than others. If you need more flexible communication between students and your classroom visitor, contact ESS or consider one of the other visitor hosting options.

3. Remote Visitor + Remote Class

If a high level of interaction between the guest and the students is necessary, it may be a good option to hold an entire class session online in Zoom with the guest. Since all FAS teaching is in-person this fall and not all students have easy access to a quiet place in which to take an online class on campus, this option should be used sparingly.


In order to ensure your visit is safe and smooth, please note the following resources:

Virtual Events:

Hosting heads of state and other dignitaries on campus or via virtual events: invitation protocol and visitor guidelines as well as in Appendix A of the Office of the University Marshal Annual Report.​​

Campus Resources

Finally, Harvard College is committed to building an inclusive community where people from all backgrounds feel welcomed and valued. We ask, therefore, that you treat everyone with respect and that you do not engage in harassment of any kind. See https://handbook.fas.harvard.edu/book/harassment. In particular, we ask that visitors conduct themselves in a professional manner in all interactions with students (both on campus and off) and refrain from any one-on-one activities with undergraduate students in which alcohol is involved. At the same time, we expect that you will be treated with respect by everyone here and we urge you to let us know if that is not the case.