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Howard Gardner Named 2024 Convocation Speaker

Celebrated psychologist and originator of the theory of multiple intelligences will address HGSE graduates on May 22
Howard Gardner
Photo Credit: Jill Anderson

Harvard Graduate School of Education Dean Bridget Terry Long has announced that Howard Gardner will address the graduating class at its 2024 Convocation ceremony on May 22.

Gardner, a self-described Harvard “lifer,” is a pioneer in education best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, a critique of the notion that there exists but a single human intelligence that can be assessed by standard psychometric instruments. His decades of work in academic theory and public policy have made him an essential voice in the fields of education and psychology, shifting the very nature of how we teach and learn.

“For many years, Howard Gardner has been an insightful voice in the field of education and a proud member of the HGSE community. His scholarly contributions are immense — from the theory of multiple intelligences to the Good Project and his long service as co-director of Project Zero,” says Long. “But it is his unending curiosity and generosity that stand out for me, and I cannot think of a better person to instill a message of hope, good work, and civic participation to our next generation of educators and leaders.”

Gardner received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1971. A founding member of Harvard’s Project Zero, Gardner served as co-director for 28 years and is now a long-term member of its executive committee. In 1981, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship as well as a fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation in 2000.

The author of more than 30 books translated into 32 languages, Gardner has written several hundred articles over his lengthy career. Most notably his book, Frames Of Mind: The Theory Of Multiple Intelligences, was published in 1983 and revolutionized the worlds of both education and psychology. Gardner’s intellectual memoir, A Synthesizing Mind, was published in 2020.

Since the mid-1990s, he has directed The Good Project, founded in collaboration with psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon. A group of initiatives, The Good Project is designed to understand the nature of various “goods” and promote their realization, helping individuals reflect upon the ethical dilemmas of everyday life and giving them the tools to make thoughtful decisions.

Gardner, now retired from teaching, continues to research and write and still plays an active role on HGSE’s campus, calling it his “home away from home.” He praised the students he will now address as they receive their degrees later this spring.

“HGSE students are very special: they have a combination of dedication, idealism and service that makes them stand out at the university,” says Gardner. “They belong to one of the most important and distinguished professions in the world and also one that must constantly monitor changes in the broader society.”

Gardner has received honorary degrees from 31 colleges and universities throughout his career, but says commencement at the Ed School holds a distinct place in his heart.

“Commencement at every school is special but for me HGSE commencement is unique,” Gardner says. “The setting is lovely, the families are there in full force — including grandparents and infants — and those about to get their degrees have learned to change the world. And many of them will, for the better.”


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