Former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will join Harvard University on a temporary basis later this year, according to Kennedy School Dean Douglas Elmendorf on Tuesday.
Ms. Ardern, a global leftist icon, has been appointed to two fellowships at Harvard Kennedy School. She will become the 2023 Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow and a Hauser Leader in the school’s Centre for Public Leadership this fall.
“Jacinda Ardern showed the world strong and empathetic political leadership,” Mr. Elmendorf said in a statement. He went on to say that Ms. Ardern will “bring important insights for our students and will generate vital conversations about the public policy choices facing leaders at all levels.”
Ms. Ardern, who was 37 when she became prime minister in 2017, shocked New Zealanders when she announced in January that she was resigning after more than five years because she no longer had “enough in the tank” to do it justice. She was under increasing political pressure at home, including criticism for her handling of the coronavirus pandemic, which was initially lauded but later criticised by those opposed to mandates and rules.
She sees the Harvard opportunity as an opportunity to additionally share her experience with others, but also to learn.
“As leaders, there’s often very little time for reflection, but reflection is critical if we are to properly support the next generation of leaders,” she said. Ms. Ardern will also be the Berkman Klein Centre for Internet & Society’s first tech governance leadership fellow.
Ms. Ardern said the centre has been an important partner in New Zealand’s fight against violent extremism online since a white supremacist gunman killed 51 people at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019. The gunman live-streamed the massacre on Facebook for seventeen hours before the video was removed.
The Christchurch Call was launched two months after the shooting by Ms. Ardern and French President Emmanuel Macron. The initiative’s goal is to remove terrorist and violent extremist content from the internet.
More than 50 countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and South Korea, as well as technology companies such as Facebook parent company Meta, Amazon, Google, Microsoft, YouTube, Zoom, and Twitter, have joined the initiative.
“The Centre has been an incredibly important partner as we’ve developed the Christchurch Call to Action on addressing violent extremism online,” Ms. Ardern said, adding that the fellowship will allow her to work not only collaboratively with the center’s research community, but also on the challenges associated with the growth of generative AI tools. According to Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Centre, it is unusual for a head of state to be able to immerse deeply in a complex and rapidly changing digital policy issue.
“Jacinda Ardern’s hard-won expertise — including her ability to bring diverse people and institutions together — will be invaluable as we all search for workable solutions to some of the deepest online problems,” he said in a statement. Ms. Ardern stated that she intended to return to New Zealand following the fellowships.
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