Public Leadership Co-Curricular Program

The Public Leadership Co-Curricular Program offers leadership development through peer cohorts, workshops, and intensives. These offerings focus on developing the capacities for principled and effective public leadership, leaning on reflective, interactive, and experiential methods on campus and in the field. Offerings are updated every semester.

The program is divided into two sets of offerings: Peer Cohorts and Workshops & Intensives. Generally, Peer Cohorts require a longer commitment than Workshops & Intensives, and prioritize community-building. Workshops & Intensives are more skill-focused, though many offerings also build strong communities.

Tryptich of student photos--in the classroom and walking in Chicago

Peer Cohorts

Peer Cohorts are a multi-week commitment that combine an interest in a particular topic or theme with community building.

Public Issue Cohorts

Peer cohorts that do a deep dive into a public issue structured around 3 program elements:

  • Bringing participants proximate to the community or issue of interest through field experiences 
  • Building a community around a shared purpose and passion for a community or addressing a public issue
  • Providing experiential leadership practice by undertaking a leadership project on the public issue

Public Issue Cohort Offerings for Fall 2022:

Latinx Leadership Initiative

As a Public Issue Cohort, the purpose of the Latinx Leadership Initiative is to do a deep dive into the public policy challenges of the Latinx community in the United States. The program structured around 3 program elements: 

  • Building a community of peers around a shared purpose and passion for the Latinx community. This includes sharing meals and social outings together. 
  • Bringing participants proximate to the community through field experiences. As a cohort, we will be interacting with the local Latinx community, and the nonprofit that serve them.   
  • Providing experiential leadership practice by undertaking a leadership project that synthesizes the learning of the field experiences. This could be creating policy recommendations and meeting with policy makers, participating in a conference, or hosting an event. 

The cohort meets the entire 2022-2023 academic year, about once a month. There are 3 field experiences often taking place on Fridays or on weekends.

The application for this offering is now closed.

Leadership Reflection Cohorts

Reflective space for students at HKS to discuss leadership challenges, learnings, growth, and career paths with deep advising from CPL staff and faculty.

Leadership Reflection Cohort Offerings for Fall 2022:

Public Leadership Development Cohort

The CPL has in its core mission to support students in their learning journey at Harvard Kennedy School by offering co-curriculum activities that help them advance their public leadership goals. Public Leadership Development Cohorts are a way to bring together small groups of HKS students in various stages of their degree program to:  

  • Build a community of peers who are trying to find a way to have an impact on the complex challenges of our global society, but are not sure how to build a life of work and learning focused on making change 
  • To create opportunities for thinking and reflection about their interests and how to use HKS to build the skills, capacities and knowledge that will help them in their public leadership journey  

The Cohort is NOT a leadership class. It is a space of reflection, community, and sense making about your education and larger purposes. Our goal is to help students ask and think about questions related to their public leadership journey and their time at HKS.

The application for this offering is now closed.

Workshops & Intensives

Workshops and intensives build competence in the public leadership capacities while also aiming to inspire students by connecting to these skills to their calling for public service.


Workshops range from 1 hour to a full day. They provide basic exposure to fundamental skills relating to public leadership.

Workshops may be added throughout the semester and publicized through the CPL listserv.


Intensives provide a deeper dive into a topic than a workshop and are usually set up as series of workshops of varying lengths. Some intensives take the form of recurring study groups or simulations.

Intensive offerings for Fall 2022:

Political Power, Leadership, and the Arts - study group with Professor Chris Robichaud

Although leadership can be exercised by people who don’t have any explicit authority, much can be learned about what makes for good leadership by interrogating the efforts of those wielding significant political power. And those lessons needn’t only be captured by examining real world cases. Staged productions, poetry, film, television series, sequential art, sacred stories—all of these can be rich sources of insight into good and bad leadership. This study group will explore the triumphs and failures, the virtues and vices, the righteous deeds and horrible crimes, of fictional and fictionalized individuals who possess tremendous political power.

The application for this offering is now closed.

The Fierce Urgency of How with Hauser Leader Dov Seidman

With Dov Seidman, Founder and Executive Chairman, The HOW Institute for Society and LRN; Fall 2022 Hauser Leader, CPL 
All HKS students are invited to apply for this Public Leadership Co-Curricular Intensive that will explore the dynamics and conditions of our world that call leaders and organizations to reflect and renew their commitment to moral methods of leadership, decision making, and organizational behavior. 
With guidance from Dov, participants will develop their own playbook for leading and operating in the 21st century. In addition to suggested learning materials provided by Dov, participants will also receive access to a 1:1 advising session with Dov, community dinners prior to each session, a free copy of Dov’s book HOW: Why HOW We Do Anything Means Everything.

30-minute community dinner followed by 90-minute workshop: 

  • Why HOW Matters More than Ever in a Reshaped World 
    Thursday, September 15, 2022 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Operationalizing HOW (A case study) 
    Thursday, October 13, 2022 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.
  • Developing Your Own Playbook: The Mission, Purpose, Values that Drive and Guide Your Work & Journey 
    November Date TBA

The application for this offering is now closed.

Building a Modern Campaign

Interested in running for office or working on a campaign? 

The Building a Modern Political Campaign seminar convenes graduate students from Harvard Kennedy School and undergraduates from Harvard College for 8 sessions focused on building a successful election campaign.  

Led by Interim IOP Director Setti Warren, former mayor of Newton, MA (2010-2018), the program will teach students unique approaches on how to grow, build, and lead successful campaigns in today’s political environment. Click here to see the program’s drafted syllabus. 

Additional Details   

  • Building a Modern Political Campaign is open to Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard College students only. 
  • Participation is by application only. 
  • Sessions will take place on Mondays from 4:30 - 5:30 p.m. on the Harvard Kennedy School campus, starting Monday, September 19, 2022. 

The application for this offering is now closed.