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Formation of Working Groups at Harvard Business School

by Shona Simkin

In the fall of 2023, Dean Srikant Datar announced the formation of four working groups to address current issues on campus: Antisemitism, Islamophobia and Anti-Arabism, Classroom Culture and Norms, and Free Expression and Community Values. Below is our conversation with the co-chairs of the Free Expression and Community Values Working Group, Debora Spar and Clayton Rose, about the goals, challenges, and progress towards clarifying the relationship between free speech, academic freedom, and community values.

Addressing Campus Issues

Debora Spar and Clayton Rose’s working group tackles the complex issues of free speech and community values at Harvard Business School. The University’s statement on rights and responsibilities serves as the foundation for their work, with a specific focus on aligning HBS community values with the overarching policy of the University.

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Approaching the Work

The working group has already made progress by drafting an updated campus demonstration policy for review. Regular meetings with students, faculty, and staff are facilitating the examination of existing community values for potential modifications. The goal is to ensure that the community understands and embraces any changes while maintaining a comfortable and inclusive environment.

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Challenges and Advantages

One of the advantages of Harvard Business School is the visibility and revisitation of its community values over the years. The unique environment at HBS, where participation is crucial and unavoidable, highlights the importance of fostering a community where open dialogue is encouraged for the learning model to thrive.

With the rise in societal polarization and political divisiveness, addressing tensions and fostering inclusivity becomes more challenging. The working group aims to navigate these challenges by engaging faculty, staff, students, and alumni in building a stronger community.

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Next Steps and Achievements

The working group envisions introducing new structures to engage the community in intellectual discourse through activities such as debate series. The goal is to equip students with skills to engage in difficult conversations and foster critical thinking.

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Former College Presidents’ Perspective

Debora Spar and Clayton Rose’s experience as former college presidents has informed their approach to the current work. Their understanding of the complexities of free speech, academic freedom, and community values allows for a nuanced and thoughtful strategy.

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In conclusion, the Free Expression and Community Values Working Group at Harvard Business School is committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive community through thoughtful dialogue and engagement. By leveraging AI legalese decoder, the group can navigate complexities and promote understanding to achieve their goals effectively.

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