New student orientation is designed to integrate you into a thriving community of aspiring policy leaders.

The experience is designed to provide students with an understanding of the Harris School curriculum, academic support resources, Harris student life opportunities, campus systems, the city of Chicago, and University resources.

However, the most important element of the new student orientation experience is fostering a sense of community amongst our diverse student body.

Prepare to be Inspired

During orientation students are introduced to essential conversations about diversity and inclusion, leadership and personal development, career development. Students will also have the opportunity to hear from faculty and Harris leadership about the philosophical basis of the Harris academic experience and hear from key policy leaders and practitioners about the impact policy can mean for the world. 

Welcome Address

The Welcome Address kicks-off the new student orientation experience. This annual address is not only a chance for you to engage with other incoming students, but also to learn more about the impact of public policy and the academic journey you are about to embark on. Last year's program featured an opening keynote by Senator Sarah McBride, First State Senate District, Delaware. Senator McBride, is an activist and politician and is currently the National Press Secretary for the Human Rights Campaign and the author of "Tomorrow Will Be Different: Love, Loss, and the Fight for Trans Equality."

Aims of Public Policy

The Aims of Public Policy provides a collective moment for students entering Harris during which they can think about the broader aspects of their education before becoming fully immersed in the data-driven Harris approach to policy analysis. This year's address will be given by Konstantin Sonin, Ph.D., John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor at Harris. Sonin's research interests include political economics, development, and economic theory; and research papers have been published in leading academic journals in economics and political science.

Common Read

The Common Read is part of Harris’ commitment to diversity and inclusion and Harris’ shared belief that it is essential that future policymakers be given the opportunity to gain an understanding of the lived experiences of people who have been marginalized. It's a shared experience that will bring you closer as community of policy leaders. The 2021 Common Read was Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents, a powerful portrait by Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author Isabel WilkersonCaste explored the unseen and often highly destructive American hierarchy that goes beyond the confines of race, class, gender, and other factors that have proven so successful at dividing us. 

Closing Keynote Address

The closing keynote address will challenge you to contemplate your role in complex global and social issues and craft a vision for the future of policy leadership and social change. Last year's keynote speaker was Blair Imani, a critically acclaimed historian, author, educator, and influencer. The New York Times praises Blair Imani’s unique ability to create “progressive lessons with vibrant visuals and a perky, quirky delivery.” Her viral microlearning series Smarter In Seconds demonstrates her signature style of making abstract concepts more concrete in a well researched, well presented, and concise manner. She is the author of two historical books; Modern HERstory: Stories of Women and Nonbinary People Rewriting History (2018) and Making Our Way Home: The Great Migration and the Black American Dream (2020). Her work centers women and girls, global Black communities, and the LGBTQ community. As an educator and influencer, semi-retired organizer, and public speaker, Blair Imani is dedicated to making the world a better place and amplifying the voices and work of those fighting the good fight.


Orientation programming will take place throughout the weeks leading up the start of the autumn academic quarter.  In addition to orientation specific programs, there will also be other programming hosted by Harris Student Organizations (HSOs) or other Harris units and departments. A detailed overview schedule will be provided in late summer 2022. As a reminder, all incoming Harris master's students with the exception of those in the MACRM program will take the mandatory math exam on September 19, 2022.


Harris Welcomes Class of 2021

Just over one week ago, The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy officially welcomed its largest, most diverse, and most international class of graduate students to its growing community of scholars.