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Dame Jennifer a success at Harvard

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Former Premier Dame Jennifer Smith has completed a prestigious yearlong course for leaders at Harvard University.

Dame Jennifer, a fellow of the university's Advanced Leadership Initiative, completed the course with a presentation of a plan to increase people's awareness of their civic duties in the electoral process.

She now hopes to use the knowledge gained on the course, which is geared towards high achievers approaching the end of their first careers but who want to prepare for a second career helping to solve problems in society.

Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the chairman and director of the programme and the Ernest L. Arbuckle professor at Harvard Business School, said: “I am proud of Dame Jennifer's commitment and accomplishment as one of our 43 fellows for 2015 who are making significant progress toward their next career phase.”

“The knowledge gained from our new stage of higher education can be used to positively impact the lives of millions.”

Dame Jennifer, who returned to the Island last month, said she hoped to use what she had learnt to create a course syllabus to teach civics to adults.

She said: “If the outline of my syllabus is good, it could be replicated anywhere else — but my concentration would be on here.

“If people sign up for the course, once I've done my syllabus and find somewhere to present it, you will have a group of people with a far better understanding than they had prior to it as to what democracy is and the role of democracy.”

During her presentation at Harvard, Dame Jennifer told other leaders: “My plan, through the creation of a civics syllabus, is to present a course to ensure voters are engaged and understand their personal responsibility. I am hopeful that by focusing on the individual's role in a parliamentary system, it will reinforce the role of the individual.

“Such a course would allow them to see inside of parliament and learn how it works, understand how to make better use of their representatives and of the public's right to information. The course I would envision would be expressly designed and delivered in a non-partisan manner for self-selecting adults with an interest in the subject.”

Speaking in the library of the House of Assembly yesterday, Dame Jennifer said: “It's important to do things in a non-partisan way.

“It's not politics for the PLP or politics for the OBA — it's about what politics means to people as citizens.”

Dame Jennifer said she had been “invigorated” by the course, which involved leaders in various fields from around the world.

“My mind was opened up,” she said. “Part of it was the people I was around. If you get 20 to 25 years of leadership experience, the whole group was of an age and we had similar experiences.

“There were a lot of interesting people and down to earth, which was unexpected given what they have done in life.

“But the course is such that it attracts that kind of people — people who want to make the world a better place any way they can.”

The group, which included top chief executives and other leaders in their fields, studied core courses, but were allowed to take other courses across the Harvard spectrum as options.

Dame Jennifer said she included a course at the Kennedy School of Government on human rights and the politics of inclusion, and at the school of education on changing schools for the better.

“I did a course in human trafficking — I was surprised at the extent of slave trafficking today and one on politics and policies and what statistics can tell us,” she said.

Dame Jennifer was also invited to speak to different groups across the Harvard campus.

She said she would be returning to Harvard for a meeting of alumni of the course — who number about 250 — and hoped to have her group travel to Bermuda to see the Island.

Dame Jennifer said: “I am keeping in contact with some of them to see where they go next and what they do.”

Prestigious course: Dame Jennifer Smith has completed Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Dame Jennifer Smith with Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the chairman and director of Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative and the Ernest L. Arbuckle Professor at Harvard Business School (Photograph supplied)

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Published December 16, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 16, 2015 at 1:53 am)

Dame Jennifer a success at Harvard

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