This semester's class of fellows also includes former national press secretary for the Bernie Sanders campaign Symone D. Sanders and former chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States Fred P. Hochberg. Rounding out the batch are J. Scott Jennings, former special assistant to President George W. Bush and current CNN contributor, Elizabeth A. Hodges, the former mayor of Minneapolis, and Adam Conner, an account executive at technology company Slack.
Chosen fellows will lead weekly discussions called “study groups” in their respective areas while also engaging students in other types of events. Study group topics this semester comprise the process through which ideas become public policy, racial equity involving policing and local governance, as well as millennials, progressives, and the future of the Democratic Party.
Abigail P. Bloomfield ’20, a student chair of the IOP’s Fellows and Study Groups, said she thinks the spring fellow program offers career professionals the chance to stimulate student engagement with public life.
“The fellows are really great because they bring perspectives that do not necessarily exist within the academic sphere,” Bloomfield said. “They can broaden our understandings of what politics looks like, what policy looks like and how we can apply what we’re learning in the classroom into the real world.”
Jennings, whose study group will focus on the status of the two-party system and the rise of what he calls “tribalism,” said he is excited to join the fellows and to bring his own cultural and political perspective to the students and faculty at the IOP.
“I’m somebody from middle America who believes strongly that we need to have greater understanding among different places in this country because it strikes me that we are growing apart,” Jennings said.
This spring fellows class will bring perspectives from across the political spectrum. Honorees include longtime members of both the Republican and Democratic parties.
“I look forward to welcoming an exceptional group of political practitioners, policymakers, and social activists who will provide students with a broad spectrum of perspectives and direct opportunities to participate in respectful dialogue and provide unique insight,” IOP Acting Director William D. Delahunt said in a press release announcing the spring fellows.
The Kennedy School attracted controversy last semester for its visiting fellow program—a similar initiative that brings individuals with experience in the public sector to campus for shorter periods of time.
After backlash from high-ranking current and former CIA officials, the IOP revoked its offer of a visiting fellowship to Chelsea Manning, a transgender activist and former U.S. Army soldier who was imprisoned after disclosing over 700,000 classified government documents.
Following the incident, the Kennedy School said it would reassess how it uses the “fellow” title and how to bestow the honor on invited guests in the future.
The visiting fellows program also came under scrutiny for its decision last semester to hold only off-the-record events for then-visiting fellow Sean Spicer, President Donald Trump’s former press secretary.
Jennings emphasized he is open to holding many on-the-record events during his time on Harvard’s campus as a resident fellow.
“I have found that having on the record public events, public discussions, public debates and challenging sort of interactions in the public space to be very stimulating and fun and important,” Jennings said.
—Staff writer Alexandra A. Chaidez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at @a_achaidez.
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