David Harpp (1998)

harppAffiliation at the time of the award: McGill University, Chemistry.

Citation: From the days of his first teaching assignment in the Chemistry Department at McGill University, the career of David Harpp has been distinguished by the special role he has played as an innovative communicator of science. His teaching philosophy includes a deep commitment to his discipline, a desire to achieve effective and insightful communication, a dedication and concern for his students, a sense of excitement and enthusiasm for chemistry and science in general, and a dedication to informing the public on crucial scientific issues. Using a method of photographic animation which he pioneered in the 1960s, David Harpp developed a unique style of visual-based communication for which he eventually became famous. This work resulted in dozens of invitations to international conferences on chemical education where his instructional techniques were given front line exposure. It opened up an entirely new realm of interest among students and also resulted in the introduction of a new generation of courses centered on science in the public interest. Since the early 1980s, David Harpp initiated a series of public lectures and has organized two major public scientific exhibitions of international calibre.

David Harpp’s dedication to his discipline is very evident to anyone who has ever studied under him. His rating as an instructor in departmental teaching surveys consistently identify him as a top teacher. He has expended a considerable effort in the development of new and innovative methods to enable the visualization of concepts in science. He and two of his colleagues introduced three different and very popular undergraduate courses, “The World of Chemistry”, with the intention of bringing the concepts and excitement of science to non-science students. These courses have been a huge success and are open to students from any Faculty with no prerequisites.

David Harpp’s talents in communication are equaled by his generosity in sharing his innovations with colleagues, both at McGill and elsewhere. He has disseminated his developments through the publication of numerous articles and manuals. He has been called upon to share his expertise in multimedia teaching, the teaching of large classes, and to help with the orientation of new faculty. His outstanding achievements in teaching have been recognized through his receipt of many awards and prizes.