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Upcoming Sessions
  • On Campus
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    Please note there will be a mandatory onboarding session and program sessions online on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 from 9am – 12:30pm. 

    Program Fee: The program fee includes tuition, housing, curricular materials and most meals.
    Executive Certificate: This program is a core program in the Public Leadership concentration. This program can also be used as a third program for any concentration in the Executive Certificate series.
    Executive Core Qualifications (ECQs): This program aligns with one or more Executive Core Qualifications.

Program Overview

Disorderly protests. Hostage situations. Extreme weather. Faculty misconduct. Violence on campus.

You can’t control whether or when a crisis will happen at your institution – but you can control the way you prepare in advance and the way you react to it. And you can learn to handle crises in a way that will better protect your students and your institution's reputation.

The Crisis Leadership in Higher Education program will help you respond to crises effectively, develop protocols and practices that minimize the potential for future occurrences, and inspire confidence for the long-term success of your institution.

Strategies for a Crisis

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education gives you critical frameworks for proactive training and planning so you can implement effective crisis management systems in advance of a critical event. The program is designed by faculty from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Harvard Kennedy School and informed by experience in crisis management and higher education policy, strategy, and operations.

Program Curriculum

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education is a four-day on campus executive program led by a teaching team from Harvard Kennedy School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Faculty experts will guide you through a variety of concepts and scenarios, examining practical challenges ranging from natural disasters to the impact of campus culture and values on crisis management. This team will help you understand strategic and operational issues that arise when preparing for, responding to and recovering from crisis events. You'll also learn communication strategies and review techniques that can be tailored to a wide range of institutional circumstances.

Crisis Leadership in Higher Education will provide you with:

  • The tools needed to diagnose and understand crisis events
  • Frameworks to help recognize critical distinctions between different types of crises
  • The ability to foster situational awareness and ensure appropriate accountability before, during, and after crisis events
  • The skills to understand and manage both policy and operational concerns
  • A rich combination of Harvard Kennedy School faculty experience in crisis management and Harvard Graduate School of Education faculty knowledge of higher education
  • A lasting network of higher education professionals whom you can call on for support

Learning Objectives

Over four days, using real-world case studies, lectures and small group discussions, program faculty will guide you through a variety of concepts and scenarios, examining practical challenges ranging from natural disasters to emergent infectious disease to reputation-threatening campus incidents. Specific program objectives will help you to:

  • Diagnose and understand an event
  • Recognize critical distinctions between different types of crises
  • Foster situational awareness
  • Understand and manage both policy and operational concerns
  • Ensure appropriate accountability, both during and after crisis events
  • Clarify the role of training and exercises
  • Manage the transition from immediate response to long-term recovery

Application Information

View a sample program schedule from a previous session. Note that module titles, speakers, and sequence may change.


“Crisis Leadership in Higher Education was a unique and highly enriching experience, from the opportunity to acquire knowledge and build skills, to the practical application and networking opportunities.”

Anna Sadecka, PhD, International Relations Office, University of Warsaw
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Faculty & Research

Herman B. (Dutch) Leonard Photo

Herman B. (Dutch) Leonard

George F. Baker, Jr. Professor of Public Management, HKS; Eliot I. Snider and Family Professor of Business Administration, HBS
Judith McLaughlin

Judy McLaughlin

Senior Lecturer on Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Arnold Howitt Photo

Arnold Howitt

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

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