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Retired Boomers Tapped to Solve World's Big Problems

An innovative Harvard program asks former execs to tackle social issues

By Amy Knapp

The world is in need of creative thinkers — and a fellowship at Harvard Business School has found an untapped resource to tackle the world's biggest problems.

A recent report from PBS NewsHour's economics correspondent Paul Solman highlighted a fellowship that encourages ex-executives to dedicate their "second act" to  solving the world's social problems.

According to the report, Rosabeth Moss Kanter, who runs Harvard's Advanced Leadership Initiative, envisioned the program nearly eight years ago.

"We said, 'Hey, here is a leadership force, and if we could only deploy them to work on these pressing problems of water, and climate, and health, and education, and conflict and rights, maybe that's a perfect match," Kanter told Solman.


This year, 47 retirees have come to the school for the fellowship during which they network and collaborate and nurture ideas into a viable ventures. (Stanford University now has a similar program, which Next Avenue has written about, called the Distinguished Careers Institute.)

"We encourage the fellows to think really big — bigger than they thought they could when they came in," Kanter told Solman. "Don't just think outside the box, be creative; think outside the building."

Watch the video below to learn more about the program and click here to read the whole interview.

Amy Knapp was formerly the associate digital editor for Next Avenue. She previously was an editor for InnoVision Health Media's consumer publicationNatural Solutions Magazine.   Read More
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