Harvard’s star computer science professor David J. Malan is the new honorary doctor of Leuphana

2022-07-07 Lüneburg/Cambridge (USA). On the occasion of this year's Dies Academicus at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Harvard professor David J. Malan has been awarded an honorary doctorate by the Faculty of Management and Technology. In awarding David Malan an honorary doctorate, the faculty recognizes an outstanding scientist who has revolutionized university computer science teaching and, in particular, the teaching of basic programming skills.

David Malan studied computer science and economics at Harvard University, where he received his Ph.D. in 2007 on the now highly topical subject of cybersecurity and digital forensics, with particular emphasis on pattern recognition in large data sets. Another area of research to which David Malan has devoted himself intensively over the past 15 years is computer science didactics.

Malan is responsible for what is arguably the world's best-known introductory programming course, Harvard's Computer Science 50, or CS50. In this context, he has studied the challenges of introductory computer science courses aimed at students in all disciplines, exploring and demonstrating the great importance of appropriate support services. David Malan is concerned with students learning technology in a self-directed way and recognizing the potential.

The Harvard professor is one of the great pioneers of digital teaching, and not just since the beginning of the Corona Pandemic. His approach goes far beyond the one-way streaming of lectures on video platforms. He has succeeded in making online lectures interactive through thoughtful use of technology, and in using modern software engineering tools to deliver learning resources and mentor and assess students in innovative and efficient ways.

As a teacher, David Malan has an impressive stage presence that proves how entertaining and educational university teaching can be. His teaching programs are known and used far beyond the Harvard campus. On the edX teaching platform, for example, CS50 is the largest Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with more than 3.7 million participants.

In his laudation for the new honorary doctor, Leuphana computer science professor Burkhardt Funk pointed out that David Malan's work is a great source of inspiration for Lüneburg University in establishing the DATAx program. This interdisciplinary course offering for all first-semester students on the critical use of data includes a basic introduction to programming and data analysis and their applications.