Rakesh Khurana, a 38-year-old associate professor at Harvard Business School, has researched employees’ irrational infatuation with a charismatic CEO, the debate over whether management is actually a profession, and–no kidding–the meaning of leadership. So when he says he woke up in the middle of the night and realized he had “solved the Social Security problem,” it sounds almost par for the course.
With fellow HBS professors Rosabeth Moss Kanter and Nitin Nohria, Khurana has proposed a new type of professional school–the School for Advanced Institutional Leadership–not for people entering the workforce but for older people preparing to leave it. Enrollees would use their years of experience in science, government, business, or the arts to solve social problems. “Many of these people would like to give back, but they don’t have a pathway,” says Khurana. “The role of this university can be to create this third stage of education.”
Students would tackle one- to two-year projects, graduating with a blueprint for a new approach to infectious disease, say, or to pre-K literacy. Some programs would cater exclusively to the elderly; others might help mothers returning to work, or soldiers after military service. Khurana, Kanter, and Nohria hope to initiate a pilot program at Harvard in the next two years, step one in seeing the elderly as a source of wisdom rather than a national burden.