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Emerging Stronger from this Year

A Message from the Dean

This spring, after a tumultuous year, there is a heightened sense of exhaustion due to the stress, uncertainty, and disappointment we have experienced in multiple parts of our lives. We have lost loved ones due to the pandemic, and restrictions on gatherings have prevented us from being able to grieve together. We have also lost opportunities to celebrate the joys of weddings and birthdays with friends and family members. As we look at the news, the heartbreaking killings of Adam Toledo and Daunte Wright invoke feelings of hurt, fear, and anger, as acknowledged in the joint statement from Harvard leadership yesterday. And after weeks of listening to gut-wrenching testimony recounting George Floyd’s final minutes, many of us await warily the verdict and aftermath of the Chauvin trial. We continue to witness senseless acts of hate targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and the increasing number of mass shootings in the U.S. is frightening. Globally, the harm being felt is also incredibly devastating — from the military uprising in Myanmar and student kidnappings in Nigeria. Deep concerns about the lack of health care and insufficient vaccine supplies underscore how the effects of COVID have been especially harmful in some countries and regions.

Simply put, in so many respects, it has been and continues to be a rough year for so many in the world. While I hope you are feeling increasingly optimistic with the expansion of vaccine eligibility, warmer weather for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, and preparations to celebrate the accomplishments of the year, we should also acknowledge the very real toll this has taken after a year like none other.

I commend each and every member of this community for the resilience you have nevertheless demonstrated. I suspect your dedication to improving education has only strengthened as we have witnessed first-hand the way in which schools are more than just places that provide education—students of all ages need our support as we work to strengthen learning around the globe, and issues of equity are even more critical during this time of rapid change. To do this work we must also make the time to take care of ourselves. Therefore, I am excited to announce the new HGSE series: Rest, Refresh, and Restore, which will take place through the balance of the academic year. Working with the Office of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB), Office of Student Affairs, and Human Resources, we have planned a series of events and informal gatherings that are designed to be spaces to rest, rebuild, replenish, and restore our minds and bodies. All members of the community are welcome to join these events. In addition, please see below for information about special office hours available to students.

As we take our next steps, let us recognize the many opportunities before us to emerge even stronger and wiser from this year. The field of education needs our best work, and to do that, I hope we can all take time in the coming months to connect and restore for what is certain to be an important next chapter for the field and for the world.

Be well,

Bridget Terry Long, Ph.D.
Dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Saris Professor of Education and Economics

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