The Harvard Graduate Council hosts its fourth annual Harvard Leadership Conference on Saturday (March 8). With interactive sessions and a focus on attendee involvement, conference planners hope that participants will not only learn, but take an active role in the seminars.

After a keynote speech and expert panels scheduled for the morning, attendees will participate in one of five parallel streams of their choice — Education Innovation, Healthcare Innovation, Internet Security & Society, Efficient Government and Climate Change Preparedness — and spend the afternoon tackling real problems within that industry.

“The whole idea is to bring together students from across Harvard and give them a forum in which to engage with each other,” said Arnar Larusson, a fellow at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and co-chair of the conference. “The aim is that students are not just passively listening, but engaging and learning, developing leadership skills in real time.”

The Internet Security and Society stream, for example, will mock a cyber breach that occurred in the Netherlands — one of best documented in the world. Everyone will assume a stakeholder role, interacting and managing the situation as events unfold, working towards their own specific goals.

So as to not dilute the experience, the conference is capped at a few hundred participants. Certain streams are limited to far fewer people than others. According to Larusson, his model has proven successful in the past, allowing for increased value through engagement and a highly-participatory environment.

From the opening remarks to the concluding networking event, the student planners are aiming for a high level of collaboration and innovation. Larusson said they selected the keynote speaker, Sidi Gomes, to match a theme of out-of-the-box, creative and collaborative thought. As Director of Architecture and Design at the Cambridge Innovation Center, Gomes is adept at designing collaborative and innovation-inducing spaces.

“Innovation is the tone we want to set with the conference,” Larusson said. “We also want the conference to be a space for people to collaborate and forge bonds between the graduate schools.”

— Elizabeth Anderson

A limited number of tickets are still available, please visit the Harvard Graduate Council website.

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