Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative Takes a Deep Look at Climate Change

March 14, 2018
HBS Professor Amy Edmondson

Cambridge, MA -- With speakers ranging from an environmental activist to a former Secretary of the US Navy, the Advanced Leadership Initiative’s (ALI) Climate Change Deep Dive presented a multi-faceted look at the causes, consequences, and potential solutions for climate change.

ALI Faculty Co-Chair Forest Reinhardt of Harvard Business School led the 2018 Deep Dive, a two-day conference bringing together speakers from around Harvard University and the world to share their collective knowledge with ALI Fellows.

ALI’s Deep Dive Sessions highlight one major global or community challenge where its Fellows might fill a gap. Deep Dives include readings, outside experts, often faculty from relevant Harvard programs, and a focus on problem-solving and practical applications of research.

ALI Fellows also contribute ideas based on their experience and knowledge to find immediate solutions for these challenges.

About ALI

ALI is a third stage in higher education designed to prepare experienced leaders to take on new challenges in the social sector where they potentially can make an even greater societal impact than they did in their careers.

This year, ALI welcomes its tenth cohort of Fellows, bringing extensive experience in law, medicine, technology, finance, manufacturing, government, social enterprise, and other sectors to the program.

The group includes twelve international Fellows, a former member of Congress, a former head of state, as well as former CEOs and C-suite executives from distinguished private sector and nonprofit organizations.

The Climate Change Deep Dive

The first day of the Deep Dive focused on scientific aspects of climate change and several options for mitigation. Speakers on the first day in­cluded Professor Peter Huybers of Harvard’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS), Professor Robert Stavins of the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS), Joseph Goffman of the Harvard Law School (HLS), and Professors Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Joseph Lassiter, and Forest Reinhard from Harvard Business School (HBS).

The second day of the Deep Dive presented options for climate change adaptation and mitigation and helped ALI Fellows synthesize the content of the two-day event. Speakers on the second day of the Deep Dive were Secretary Ray Mabus of the US Navy, Professor John Macomber (HBS), Professor James Engell of Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS), Professor Amy Edmondson (HBS), and writer Terry Tempest Wil­liams (HDS).

Overall, the Climate Change Deep Dive allowed Fellows to take an ana­lytical and ethical look at some of the world’s most pressing environmen­tal issues. Fellows examined the global and local, as well as the measurable and im­measurable, impacts of greenhouse gases.

Cross-Sector Solutions

At the close of the Deep Dive, the Fellows had a chance to consolidate their thinking, and developed some key takeaways. Among their potential solutions, Fellows suggested firms should reduce emissions, alter operations, and have transpar­ency toward sustainability goals.

They also highlighted the role of government, which should develop clear standards, simplify and priori­tize regulation, and institute carbon pricing.

Finally, they noted the role of the media and the press to raise awareness about the problems of climate change and communicate the stories of affected individuals.

As a result of the Deep Dive, Fellows gained a better understanding of the complicated problems underlying climate change, and the need for a cross-sector approach to develop pragmatic solutions.

To learn more about the Deep Dive, read ALI's complete 2018 Climate Change Deep Dive Report.