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Critical Conversations and Bold Ideas

Community Event Launches the Campaign for HGSE

Critical Conversation & Bold Ideas logoFriday, September 19, will mark the beginning of a new chapter for the Harvard Graduate School of Education. More than 1,000 students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends of the school are expected to descend on Appian Way for an event, “Critical Conversations and Bold Ideas.” At the event, HGSE will publicly announce a $250 million fundraising campaign, part of the university-wide Campaign for Harvard. The day will feature a varied program of speakers exploring key topics in education and Dean James Ryan’s address on his vision and priorities for the school.

“HGSE is known as a place where leading educators come to address the topics that matter most in education,” said Ryan. “This event highlights the ways we’re tackling key issues today and will introduce our plans to make an even bigger impact in the future.”

The first session of the day will be a conversation between U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Professor Monica Higgins. Then “Critical Conversations,” five concurrent breakout sessions featuring panel discussions with faculty and alumni, will cover topics ranging from early learning and the brain to global education in the 21st century.

During lunch, Geoffrey Canada, Ed.M.’75, will deliver a keynote address. Canada is the founder and president of the Harlem Children’s Zone, a full-service community organization comprising charter schools, preschools, afterschool programs, parenting education, and employment and technology centers. Canada, named to Fortune’s list of the 50 greatest leaders in the world in 2014, received the HGSE Medal for Education Impact, the highest honor given by the school, in 2012.

The afternoon program includes “Bold Ideas for Education: 8x8,” in which eight faculty members each discuss their big ideas for impact in eight minutes. Among those presenting are Professor Bridget Terry Long on “Nudging Students To Success: Small Things That Make a BIG Difference,” Professor Paul Reville on “Getting to ‘All Means All,’” and Assistant Professor Karen Brennan on “Getting Unstuck.”

In the afternoon, a community celebration will feature remarks by Ryan and Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust, as well as a performance by world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma. Ma’s nonprofit foundation, the Silk Road Project, has an ongoing relationship with HGSE and presents a summer institute for artists and educators at the school.

In his address to the community, Ryan will introduce The Campaign for HGSE.

“People come here to learn to change the world through education,” said Ryan. “I believe if we harness that passion and leverage our strengths as a school, a successful campaign will enable generations of faculty and students to do just that.”

A festive block party on Appian Way caps off the day’s events, including a concert with HGSE alumna Janelle Bechdol, Ed.M.’14, a former American Idol contestant.