Harvard Kennedy School is committed to strengthening the ability of our students, staff, and faculty to have candid and constructive conversations across difference.

Our goal is to foster an environment of openness, humility, and respect necessary for the robust exchange of ideas. We seek to rigorously engage with competing perspectives, talk with those with whom we disagree, and ensure that all members of our community feel heard and respected. The ability to disagree constructively and across difference is important for learning and working together effectively, and it is a core competency for public leaders and policymakers.

A team of faculty, staff, and students worked from the fall of 2022 to the fall of 2023 to assess the challenges that HKS faces in fostering candid and constructive conversations and to develop a strategy and recommendations for overcoming those challenges. We are now implementing these recommendations.

Candid & Constructive Conversations Report
The report examines HKS’s current climate and proposes a multi-year, schoolwide effort to strengthen that climate.

HKS faculty on candid conversations

Professors Erica Chenoweth and Julia Minson talk about the importance of overcoming polarization and the value of—and skills needed for—candid conversations.

Speaking to the moment

It’s not enough to talk about having difficult conversations; scholars and students have to persist when things get uncomfortable. That’s been the guiding principle behind Middle East Dialogues, a series of events organized by HKS Professor Tarek Masoud that focus on the Israel-Hamas war.

The HKS community can submit ideas to our team.
Have ideas for fostering dialogue, facilitation skills, or modeling constructive disagreement?