Menu Harvard Graduate School of Education
banner image

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education

3/5/18 to 3/8/18

Tuition: $4,900

Application Deadline: January 5, 2018 

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education applications are processed through Harvard Kennedy School. Applications may be submitted after the deadline and will be considered if space remains. Please see the HKS website for detailed information on fee, payment, and cancellation policies. 

A jointly-designed program from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Harvard Kennedy School.

Faculty Chair, Dutch Leonard discusses Crisis Leadership in Higher Education.

What You Will Learn

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education focuses on the strategic and operational issues that arise when preparing for, responding to, and recovering from a crisis — from on-campus violence to natural disasters to controversial statements or actions by faculty and staff.

Program Overview

It is impossible to control whether a crisis will happen at your institution, but you can control the way you react to it. Organizations must improvise and innovate — usually under acute time pressure and high stress — making it critical to know how to respond, manage, survive, and recover with minimal damage. The quality of your response will have a lasting impact on institutional community, culture, and reputation.

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education will help you respond to crises effectively, develop protocols and practices that minimize the potential for future occurrences, and inspire confidence in the long-term safety, security, and success of your institution. The program draws on the complementary expertise, knowledge, and experience of Harvard Kennedy School in crisis management and the Harvard Graduate School of Education in higher education, creating a powerful opportunity to engage this important topic in a way that no other institution can.

Program Objectives
  • Diagnose and understand the event
  • Recognize critical distinctions between different types of crises
  • Foster situational awareness
  • Understand and manage policy and operational concerns
  • Ensure appropriate accountability, both during and after crisis events
  • Clarify the role of training and exercises
  • Manage the transition from immediate response to long-term recovery
Who Should Attend
  • College and university presidents and chancellors, provosts, vice presidents, deans, and other senior-level administrators with responsibility for crisis planning, communication, and external relations
  • Administrators responsible for developing and implementing the campus crisis management plan including; chief administrative services officers, heads of institutional communication, and directors of campus safety and security
What People Are Saying

"The case study approach was perfect and the international nature of the course was quite effective—tapping into the vast experience of each participant." —2012 participant

"The program was excellent. My role in crisis management is currently unclear, but no matter what my professional responsibilities become, the frameworks will be very useful." —2012 participant

"Rather than just rote memorization of topics and applications procedures, Crisis Leadership teaches you how to think critically. I found the use of case studies to be particularly effective teaching tools and recognized the many parallels between this course and law school. In general, law school does not teach you 'the law' but how to think critically about the law and how it develops." —2012 participant

Alumni Testimonial: Randy Humes, Maryland InstituteCollege of Art

After being recommended for the program by his director, Randy Humes, Assistant Director of Campus Safety at the Maryland Institute College of Art attended the program in 2014. We spoke with Randy after the program to learn more about his experience at Crisis Leadership.

Read more: Alumni Testimonial: Crisis Leadership in Higher Education


Faculty Chairs

James Honan is senior lecturer on education and educational co-chair for the Institute for Educational Management (IEM) at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Honan's teaching and research interests include financial management of nonprofit organizations, organizational performance measurement and management, and higher-education administration. Honan serves as a consultant on strategic planning, resource allocation and performance measurement and management to numerous colleges, universities, schools and nonprofit organizations, both nationally and internationally.

Herman B. "Dutch" Leonard is the George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Management at Harvard Kennedy School and the Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School. Leonard teaches organizational strategy and leadership, with an emphasis on effective decision making. His current research concentrates on crisis management and leadership, particularly on how organizations and individuals can better prepare in advance and better perform in the moment to increase the likelihood of effective improvisation and action in crisis situations. Leonard is co-author and co-editor of Managing Crises: Responses to Large-Scale Emergencies (2009) and of Public Health Preparedness: Case Studies (forthcoming 2017).


Arnold M. Howitt, adjunct lecturer in Public Policy; co-director, Program on Crisis Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School

Judith Block McLaughlin, senior lecturer on education; director, Higher Education Program, HGSE


Enrollment Instructions

Due to the highly-interactive nature of the program, participation is limited. Program admission is competitive and based on the relevance and value of the program curriculum to current administrative responsibilities and challenges faced by the applicant.

Qualified applicants are admitted on a rolling, space-available basis. Admission decisions will be made within three weeks of submission of a completed online application. Early application is encouraged.



Accommodations will be provided by Harvard Kennedy School at the Soldiers Field Park Apartments. Detailed housing information is provided to all admitted participants.

Campaign Banner

Learn to Change the World

The Campaign for Harvard Graduate School of Education enables HGSE to fulfill its vision of changing the world through education by expanding opportunity and improving outcomes.

Learn More