Felipe Calderón will make the move from Mexico City to Cambridge to assume a fellowship position at the Harvard Kennedy School in late January weeks after his six-year term as President of Mexico ends December 1.
The Kennedy School named Calderón its first ever Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow, a role he will fill through December 2013. The fellowship calls for engagement with the Harvard community through lectures, academic collaboration, and intellectual stimulation.
“This Fellowship will be a tremendous opportunity for me to reflect upon my six years in office, to connect with scholars and students at Harvard, and to begin work on the important papers that will document the many challenges that we faced, and the policy positions that we developed during my administration,” Calderón, himself a graduate of the Kennedy School, said in a press release.
His plans allign with the goals of the fellowship, which, among other things, aims to facilitate the transition from official public service to public life for leaders who have recently left office.
“This is an opportunity to get up close and get to know people who have been in these really rare positions and get some insights that aren’t available in reading biographies—to really see leadership up close,” said Peter B. Zimmerman ’68, lecturer in public policy and the fellowship’s faculty chair.
Calderón’s official affiliation will be with the Kennedy School’s Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and he has no immediate plans to teach at Harvard
Undergraduate students have expressed hopes that Calderón will eventually make himself available to the entire University.
“In a couple of speeches he’s made, [Calderón] has talked of when he comes here he’s excited to work with fellow scholars and the undergraduates as well,” said Dorothy Villarreal ’15, president of Harvard-Radcliffe RAZA, an undergraduate Latino student group.
“His presence on campus in itself is going to be very important for the Latino community, just because we don’t have as many Latino leaders in the community as other demographics may have,” she added. Calderon’s own academic work at Harvard ended in 2000 when he graduated from HKS. Six years later he became Mexico’s second democratically-elected president. During his tenure, he was a champion of economic development and emphasized health-care and environmental reforms.
“I think he tackled issues that very few presidents would have approached or even acknowledged, so I think that’s commendable,” Villarreal said.