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Howard Gardner ’65 Named Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2024 Convocation Speaker

The Harvard Graduate School of Education sits at 13 Appian Way. Psychologist Howard Gardner will be the featured speaker at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Class Day.
The Harvard Graduate School of Education sits at 13 Appian Way. Psychologist Howard Gardner will be the featured speaker at the Harvard Graduate School of Education Class Day. By Addison Y. Liu
By Katie B. Tian, Crimson Staff Writer

Developmental psychologist Howard E. Gardner ’65 will give the keynote address at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s 2024 Convocation, HGSE Dean Bridget Terry Long announced on April 15.

Gardner, a longtime professor at HGSE, will address graduates during the May 22 convocation ceremony, one day before the University-wide Commencement in Harvard Yard.

While Gardner retired from teaching a few years ago, he remains actively involved in research at Harvard.

“I used to joke that I have the largest medical record of the university because I’ve been going to the health services for 60 some years,” Gardner said.

Gardner is renowned globally for decades of pioneering work in the field of cognitive psychology.

He is best known for his theory of multiple intelligences, which theorizes that individuals have multiple forms of intelligence beyond intellectual capacity, including linguistic, interpersonal, spatial-visual, and others.

According to Gardner, the overarching theme of his convocation speech is that to make lasting change in the field of education, students and leaders must balance long-standing continuities and a rapidly changing landscape.

Gardner described HGSE students as generally “idealistic.”

“They want to try to improve education and, as the slogan for the school says, ‘Learn to save the world,’” he added. “We have to have two eyes, one eye focused on the continuities, the human needs which have always been present as long as we’ve had young people who we want to help grow up — but also the many, many changes, intellectual, political, technological and so on.”

As one of the founding members of Project Zero, a significant HGSE research center dedicated to enhancing learning in the arts and other disciplines, Gardner served as co-director for 28 years and now acts as the head of the steering committee.

Long said in a press release announcing Gardner as the keynote speaker that he “has been an insightful voice in the field of education and a proud member of the HGSE community.”

“His scholarly contributions are immense — from the theory of multiple intelligences to the Good Project and his long service as co-director of Project Zero,” Long added. “But it is his unending curiosity and generosity that stand out for me, and I cannot think of a better person to instill a message of hope, good work, and civic participation to our next generation of educators and leaders.”

In 1996, Gardner co-founded “The Good Project” alongside psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon ’67, which aims to design tools for confronting everyday ethical decisions, with an emphasis on effective collaboration, digital citizenship, and civic participation.

Gardner explained that he and his colleagues define good citizenship as “having 3 E’s.”

“It has to be excellent, it has to be engaging, and it has to be carried out in an ethical way,” he said.

According to Gardner, given that today’s researchers and leaders have access to unprecedented levels of knowledge, as well as increasingly powerful computational instruments, it is necessary to rethink education “from the cradle to the grave.”

“The Ed School is uniquely poised to consider education from the very first life until the time when people can no longer function anymore,” Gardner said.

“Any good education school should try to do it,” he added. “But as a Harvard man for my life, I’d like us to take the lead in that.”

—Staff writer Katie B. Tian can be reached at

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