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Jacob K. Javits Lecture Series | From Multiples Intelligences to Future Minds

Howard Gardner

Featured Speaker

Howard Gardner is the John H. and Elisabeth A. Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He also holds positions, as Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Harvard University and Senior Director of Harvard Project Zero.

Among numerous honors, Gardner received a MacArthur Prize Fellowship in 1981. In 1990, he was the first American to receive the University of Louisville’s Grawemeyer Award in Education and in 2000 he received a Fellowship from the John S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has received honorary degrees from twenty-two colleges and universities, including institutions in Chile, Ireland, Israel, Italy and Korea. In 2004 he was named an Honorary Professor at East China Normal University in Shanghai. In 2005 he was selected by Foreign Policy and Prospect magazines as one of 100 most influential public intellectuals in the world.

Gardner received his B.A. summa cum laude in social relations from Harvard College in 1965 and his Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University in 1971. At Harvard he studied with the renowned developmental psychologists Jerome Bruner and Erik Erikson, and the philosopher Nelson Goodman. He had thought he would research children and their artistic abilities but became fascinated with neuropsychology after attending a lecture on the subject given by Norman Geschwind, a well-known neurologist. Indeed, Gardner went on to do a postdoctoral fellowship under Geschwind at the Boston Veterans Hospital where he worked for 20 years.

His research has focused on the nature of human intelligence, the nature of and development of abilities in the arts and how they relate to and reflect different forms of intelligence, and entail distinctive educational processes. For numerous years, Gardner conducted research in symbol-using capacities in normal and gifted children, and in adults who had experienced brain damage. Through his efforts to bring these two areas of work together, he developed his theory of multiple intelligences, which he introduced in Frames of Mind (1983). Drawing on research in neuropsychology, he proposed that there are several distinct types of intelligence, each drawing on different regions of the brain. Thus intelligence is not one general factor that underlies different abilities-the predominant belief upon which most intelligence tests have been based. Gardner’s work in intelligence drew wide interest on the part of educators all over the world. In the mid-1980s Gardner started to become involved in efforts to reform schools in the United States. He also became a Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1986.

From 1972-2000 Gardner served as co-Director of Harvard Project Zero. Project Zero is a research group that studies human cognition, focusing on the arts in particular. Among other things, Gardner and his colleagues have worked on designing performance-based tests and using the theory of multiple intelligences to create more individualized teaching and testing methods. Exploring different forms of cognition, Gardner also carried out case studies of successful leaders and creators. Gardner’s work has been presented in over twenty-five books, translated into twenty-seven languages, and several hundred articles, which have appeared in scholarly and wide circulation journals.

In the middle 1990s, in collaboration with psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and William Damon, Gardner embarked on a study of Good Work—work that is at once excellent in quality, personally engaging, and socially responsible. The GoodWork® Project (see goodworkproject.org) includes studies of outstanding leaders in several professions--among them journalism, law, science, medicine, theater, and philanthropy -- as well as examination of exemplary institutions and organizations. In 2001, Basic Books published Good Work: When Excellence and Ethics Meet, the first book to issue from the Project. Other books emanating from the Project include Making Good: How Young People Cope with Moral Dilemmas at Work (with Wendy Fischman, Becca Solomon-2004, and Deborah Greenspan) and Responsibility at Work 2007, edited by Gardner.

Other recent books include The Disciplined Mind: Beyond Facts and Standardized Tests, the K-12 Education that Every Child Deserves (Penguin Books, 2000); Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing our Own and Other People’s Minds (Harvard Business School Press, 2004); Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons (Basic Books 2006), and Five Minds for the Future (Harvard Business School Press 2007).

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