Recently I wrote to you about important work we need to initiate at Harvard Business School following the horrific killings and kidnappings perpetrated by Hamas in Israel on 10/7 and, in the weeks since, mounting civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. To date, thousands of innocent lives have been tragically lost. The pain, grief, and fear from these events and a rise in antisemitism, Islamophobia, and anti-Arabism have tested the fabric of our community, and we have felt their impact in our classrooms and on our campus. We find ourselves facing difficult and complex questions about what constitutes hate speech and private speech, particularly in a digital era; how we navigate free expression and our community values; how we improve religious inclusion; how we ensure that faculty, staff, and students all experience our School as a place of belonging and inclusion; and how we ensure we create an educational environment that deepens understanding and advances learning. Hate can have no place at Harvard Business School.
I am reaching out today to announce four working groups that will help us address these questions.
Antisemitism Working Group, co-chaired by Joshua Margolis and Kristin Mugford. This group will seek to understand the experience of antisemitism at Harvard Business School, past and present; evaluate our cases and curriculum; understand responses to recent events and the lessons learned; and develop opportunities to educate and engage the community.
Islamophobia and Anti-Arabism Working Group, co-chaired by Hakeem (Keem) Belo-Osagie and Kristin Mugford. This group will strive to deepen awareness of Islamophobia and anti-Arabism in our community, including in our programs and courses; explore the ways they are experienced at Harvard Business School; and create avenues to raise awareness, build understanding, and cultivate inclusive mindsets.
Classroom Culture and Norms Working Group, co-chaired by Joe Badaracco and Suraj Srinivasan. This group will explore ways students and faculty can work in partnership to create a classroom, section, and learning environment that best delivers on our aspirations for robust dialogue across differences.
Free Expression and Community Values Working Group, co-chaired by Clayton Rose and Debora Spar. This group will examine how we can embrace, simultaneously, a commitment to free speech and our community values of respect, honesty and integrity, and personal accountability.
Each group will include additional faculty as well as staff and students, and will seek broader input—from alumni or from peer schools, for example—where helpful or needed. Each has been asked to try to identify near-term actions that might benefit our classrooms or our community now. Each will identify opportunities and resources for fact-based discussion, engagement, and education. Finally, each will seek, too, to develop thoughtful longer-term recommendations for changes we might make or pathways we might pursue to ensure Harvard Business School is a welcoming and vibrant place to work, learn, and live.
I and leaders from across the School—including in the Dean’s Office, the MBA Program, and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, among others—will engage in this work, too. We recognize that these efforts must span our constituencies, programs, and activities. And, we will ensure we connect and contribute to work underway at the University, as outlined in President Gay’s message to the Harvard community earlier this afternoon.
The co-chairs already have been giving thought to the scope of their work and additional members of each working group who will help carry it forward. We welcome your ideas and suggestions on individuals who might serve, resources they might find helpful, or questions or issues you hope they might tackle.
I am pleased to announce an important learning opportunity for our community. Harvard Business School and Harvard Kennedy School will come together to jointly offer a panel discussion on the roots of the current conflict and potential pathways forward. The session will be moderated by Harvard Kennedy School’s Professor Tarek Masoud and will include four renowned scholars: Professor Shai Feldman (Brandeis University and President of Sapir Academic College in Israel), Dean Amaney Jamal (Dean of Princeton School for Public and International Affairs), David Makovsky (Washington Institute and Senior Advisor to the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Relations under President Obama), and Dr. Khalil Shikaki (Director of the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research and Senior Fellow at Brandeis). Please stay tuned for additional information.
I am pleased, too, to share a new resource from ODEI, “Supporting our Community,” available here. The site compiles information from a number of sources; of note is an effort by our colleagues in Baker Library to provide a range of reference materials (print and video) about current events as well as history, background, and analysis that I encourage you to explore for self-education. You’ll also find details on navigating potential difficult conversations, how to obtain individual support, a toolkit for addressing online harassment, and other HU resources.
In closing, I want to stress that the safety and well-being of our community remains our highest priority. We work closely with the Harvard University Police Department as well as local, state, and federal agencies to monitor security concerns and assess credible threats to the School on a daily basis (thankfully, to-date, none have been identified). Our state-of-the-art Security Operations Center is staffed 24/7, and we flexibly adapt patrols to match campus activity. Any individual with concerns about their personal safety should contact Campus security (617.495.5577) or HUPD (617.495.1212).
The work ahead is important. It cannot be work that we delegate only to a few; to succeed, it will require every one of us to play a role—heightening our awareness, deepening our understanding, adopting a learning mindset, and seeking informed discussion. I am personally committed to this effort, and ask and hope that you will make a similar commitment. Together, we can make our community even stronger.
This message was distributed to faculty, staff, and students.