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New Leadership at Harvard Project Zero: Steve Seidel Named Director

Dr. Steve Seidel, an expert on alternative student assessment, has been named Director of Harvard Project Zero (HPZ), a research group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education that explores the development of learning in children, adults, and organizations. Seidel succeeds Howard Gardner and David Perkins, who have served as co-directors of HPZ since 1972.

"Steve's experience as a high school teacher, university faculty member, committed advocate for the arts, active participant in our national and international educational efforts, and imaginative researcher make him the ideal person to serve as director at this time in the life of HPZ," says Gardner.

"Many organizations look outside themselves for figures to provide direction. Fortunately, we have found the ideal person within -- someone who can move with agility across multiple roles--leader, administrator, facilitator, visionary, guide. Steve Seidel brings an abundance of experience, insights, and skills to the position of director," adds Perkins.

Gardner and Perkins will continue their active involvement with HPZ through their research and serving on its steering committee.

Since HPZ was founded by Nelson Goodman in 1967, its mission has been to understand and enhance learning, thinking, and creativity in the arts, as well as humanistic and scientific disciplines. HPZ is building on this research to help create communities of reflective, independent learners; to enhance deep understanding within disciplines; and to promote critical and creative thinking.

HGSE Dean Jerome T. Murphy commented, "Project Zero is an internationally recognized leader that has prospered under the leadership of Howard Gardner and David Perkins. As Project Zero moves into the next phase of its work, I can't imagine a better director than Steve Seidel. He brings deep knowledge of education along with the capacity to guide an unusually inventive organization."

Moving with Agility Across Multiple Roles

Seidel, a lecturer on education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, joined HPZ in 1987. Since 1995, he has acted as a project manager, a principal investigator, a founding member of the management team, and, most recently, a member of the four-person steering committee. Seidel's projects at HPZ have explored teachers' reflective practices, the close examination of student work, and documentation of learning. This research currently includes The Evidence Project, a study using student work as evidence of learning and teaching, and Making Learning Visible, a study of group learning and assessment in partnership with the Reggio Emilia early childhood schools in Italy. He and his colleagues have just completed Arts Survive, a study of the sustainability of arts education partnerships. Before coming to Project Zero, Seidel taught theater and language arts in Boston area high schools for 17 years and worked professionally as a stage actor and director.

"It is a great honor to move into the role of director of HPZ," says Seidel. "Having spent nearly 30 years working in education, I am keenly aware of how much there is yet to learn about teaching and learning. Working at HPZ for the past 12 years, I am also well aware of the high standards for quality and relevance of research that David Perkins and Howard Gardner have set and maintained over their more than three decades as co-directors. Their example is inspiring and I am delighted that they will continue to make Project Zero the home for much of their own research."

Joining Seidel in the new administrative structure of Project Zero will be Cynthia Quense. Quense will oversee the management of Project Zero's core administrative functions and will assist in implementing new initiatives. Quense comes to HPZ from LASPAU: Academic & Professional Programs for the Americas, Harvard University where she was director of finance and program implementation.

At present, 56 people work at Project Zero on 16 projects. These projects span such topics as Understandings of Consequence, Visual Thinking Curriculum (with the Museum of Modern Art), Schools Using Multiple Intelligences Theory, International Schools Consortium Collaboration, Evaluations of Arts Education Programs, and Good Work/Creativity and Leadership.

Present or recent funders of Project Zero include:

Bauman Family Foundation; Carnegie Corporation of New York; Nathan Cummings Foundation; Department of Education, Office of Education Research and Improvement; Disney Learning Partnership; Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation; Fetzer Institute; The Ford Foundation; The J. Paul Getty Trust; William and Flora Hewlett Foundation; Christian A. Johnson Endeavor Foundation; Kaplan eScore Learning; John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; Mr. Thomas H. Lee; Lilly Endowment Inc.; John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Markle Foundation; James S. McDonnell Foundation; Mr. Albert Merck; Museum of Modern Art; National Endowment for the Arts, Arts Education Partnership in collaboration with the Council of Chief State School Officers; National Science Foundation; New American Schools Development Corporation; The Pew Charitable Trusts; Jesse Phillips Foundation; DeWitt Wallace-Reader's Digest Fund; The Rockefeller Foundation; Rockefeller Brothers Fund; The Louise and Claude Rosenberg, Jr. Family Foundation; Ross Charitable Family Foundation; Schwab Foundation for Learning; Shakespeare and Company; Spencer Foundation; John Templeton Foundation; Peder Seger Wallenberg Trust.

For More Information

Steve Seidel is available for comment. Please contact contact Steve Seidel at 617-495-8754 or Christine Sanni at 617-496-5873 for scheduling information. Information on Project Zero's research is available at the Project Zero website.

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