Campus & Community

Happy together

Lulu August ’26 (center) is hugged by her proud parents, Kakuri and Agnes.

Lulu August ’26 (center) is hugged by her proud parents, Kakuri and Agnes, during first-year move-in last August in Harvard Yard.

Photos by Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

3 min read

Harvard’s campus offers moments of sheer joy, coupled with times of quiet reflection

I was walking along the Charles River, when I spotted Professor Daniel Gilbert on his recumbent bike, cruising down a hill toward the Newell Boathouse. He had a broad smile across his face and looked happy, which seemed appropriate since Gilbert studies the science of happiness. He is also the author of “Stumbling on Happiness,” in which he describes the role of “imagination and illusions” in our sometimes misguided pursuit of happiness.

“Human beings are the most social animals on Earth, bar none. So, it is no surprise that our greatest source of happiness is other people. Genuinely investing ourselves in relationships with family, friends, colleagues, and students is the best way to increase our own happiness,”  said Gilbert, in a more detailed email to me.

Echoing this belief was sociology professor Mario Luis Small, who says that casual interactions with acquaintances in our community “offer people a way to be seen, heard, and appreciated, as well as the chance for them to express gratitude. They frequently come free of any expectations. They are likely to be bridges to other communities and networks.”

Within Harvard’s vast community and numerous networks, it was easy to capture moments of sheer joy. Here is a sampling from throughout the school year.

Eliza Rockefeller, Fred Asare-Konadu, and Dustin Tingley.
Harvard Divinity School student Eliza Rockefeller (left), and College student Fred Asare-Konadu ’24 present their research. In Sever Hall, Professor Dustin Tingley (right) teaches a new government class about the politics of climate change, a great example of the sorts of classes Harvard will increasingly offer in light of the “Future of Climate Change Education” report.
Spectators watch rowers practice for the Head of The Charles Regatta .
Spectators watch rowers practice for the Head of the Charles Regatta.
Students study in the sunken garden in Radcliffe Yard.

Students study in the Gellert Garden in Radcliffe Yard. At the Harvard Medical School Quadrangle, students Kiwi Florido (left) and Lissah Johnson enjoy warm weather while framed by flowers.

Inside Busch Hall is visitor Mario Barbuti.
Inside Busch Hall, Mario Barbuti, a visitor from Italy, views collections in the Busch-Reisinger Museum at Harvard.
Denise Penizzotto.
Denise Penizzotto, M.T.S. ‘23, demonstrates wellness practices such as meditation and yoga in Williams Chapel, Swartz Hall.
McKenzie Lilygren ‘23, drummer for The Harvard Band
Sabastian Mandell plays the piano.

McKenzie Lilygren ’23, drummer for the Harvard Band, keeps the beat during the 371st Commencement Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre. U.S. Army veteran and Harvard College student Sabastian Mandell taught himself how to play the piano during the pandemic using social media videos. Inside Northwest Labs, on a public piano, he entertains students as they study.

Jessica Shiflett ’25 studies math problem sets using her tablet while relaxing on an inflatable couch near Memorial Church.
Maya Woods-Arthur ’23 studies a book while on a net hammock.

Maya Woods-Arthur ’23 studies a book while on a net hammock at Quincy House as warm temperatures arrive. A Harvard College student enjoys a slack line and a spring day at Leverett House.

Members of FOP, Harvard’s First-Year Outdoor Program, gather in a circle to raise each other’s spirits behind Harvard Hall. FOP is one of many pre-orientation programs for incoming first-years. Five hundred and fifty of them moved in for programs including FAP, FIP, FUP, FYRE and LIFE.