MLD-355M: Public Narrative: Self, Us, Now

Semester: Fall 1

Credit: 2.0

Syllabus: Click here for syllabus

Faculty: Marshall Ganz


Day Time Location
Term Start Date 9/1
Meet Day T/Th 2:45 PM - 3:59 PM Belfer 200 Starr Aud (HKS)


Questions of what I am called to do, what is my community called to do, and what we are called to do now are at least as old as the three questions posed by the first century Jerusalem sage, Rabbi Hillel:

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?

When I am for myself alone, what am I?

if not now, when?

This course offers students an opportunity to develop their capacity to lead by asking themselves these questions at a time in their lives when it really matters. . . and learning how to ask them of others. Public narrative is the leadership practice of translating values into action. To lead is to accept responsibility for enabling others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Public narrative is a discursive process through which individuals, communities, and nations learn to make choices, construct identity, and inspire action. Responding to challenges with agency requires courage that is grounded in our capacity to access hope over fear; empathy over alienation; and self-worth over self-doubt. We can use public narrative to link our own calling to that of our community to a call to action. It is learning how to tell a story of self, a story of us, and a story of now. Because it engages the "head" and the "heart" narrative can instruct and inspire - teaching us not only why we should act, but moving us to act. Based on a pedagogy of reflective practice, this course offers students the opportunity to work in groups to learn to tell their own public narrative.

Registration for this course has 3 steps that are required:
1.     Complete Student Commitment Form by midnight on August 30th.
2.     Follow the regular steps for class registration at my.harvard.
3.     Come to class and complete all assignments to ensure your spot in the class.  Class attendance will be monitored.

Students are highly encouraged to attend Shopping days at:
•       Harvard Graduate School of Education - August 25th, 4.30pm and 5.15pm at Larsen 203
•       Harvard Kennedy School - August 30th, 2.45pm and 3.30 pm, Starr Auditorium

For any questions please email

Also offered by the Graduate School of Education as A-111P.

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page