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National Young Faculty Leaders Forum
at Harvard University



What is the Forum?

The Young Faculty Leaders Forum engages a select group of outstanding young scholars - the best in the nation - committed to strengthening American education in new ways. Participants meet periodically and repeatedly over a series of two-day intensive sessions called "Executive Sessions." The goal is to evaluate challenges and a need for change facing the American educational system, both K-12 and higher education. Participants then capitalize on their insights to train a new generation of American education leaders. A critical feature of this program is vigorous interaction not only among Forum members, but also among senior leaders from business and government who share a similar thirst for change. The Forum is sponsored by the Center for Business and Government at Harvard University.


Who are the participants?

The Young Faculty Leaders Forum has selected 34 faculty members from leading universities who are considered rising young "stars" in their academic communities. Typically, they are new to the teaching profession, less than five years beyond their Ph.D. and pre-tenure. Some will come from schools of education, others from fields as diverse as sociology, history, psychology, economics, philosophy, political science, communication studies, urban studies, and technology. What the Forum values above all else in its members is excellence and rigor in their work. Indeed, the most actively sought individuals are those who dare to be provocative, those with fresh - even unusual or unpopular - perspectives who aren't afraid to challenge the conventional wisdom.


How does the program work?

The Forum convenes twice a year for two-day, intensive "Executive Sessions" at Harvard. During each of these sessions, the young faculty members present and rigorously defend their best ideas. With a strong emphasis on concrete evidence, these ideas are actively debated by the entire group, both Forum members and senior guests from business, government and philanthropy who are leaders in their fields. Afterwards, to broaden the impact, each young faculty member is invited to present and share new ideas from the Executive Sessions with colleagues at their own universities.


Who benefits from this program?

There are several beneficiaries. First is the educational system, which clearly benefits from an infusion of fresh and innovative thinking that emerges from some of the country's brightest young minds. Second are the young faculty members themselves. These young stars today are typically advised by senior colleagues to pursue a narrow focus in their academic discipline as the fastest road to professional advancement. Such an approach increasingly breeds isolation. The Young Faculty Leaders Forum is designed to overcome this - to push back hard - by creating a "community of scholars" whose members gain exposure to evocative new ideas. They think outside of their disciplines and across universities. They engage with and integrate new ideas from business and government. This cross-pollination stimulates additional ideas. It will encourage members to broaden their work and integrate new insights from their Forum experience into their research, teaching, and training future leaders for American education.


Questions or Comments? Contact Laura Medeiros, Project Administrator
Tel: 617-495-1179; Fax: 617-495-1050; Email:
©2004 President and Fellows of Harvard University