Connecting you to 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 Brenda Darden Wilkerson, President and CEO of  Brenda Darden Wilkerson is an advocate for access, opportunity, and social justice for underrepresented communities in technology. She currently serves as the President and CEO of, an organization that connects, inspires, and strives for greater equality for women technologists in business, academia, and government.

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. Last year's address was 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.  Last year's Common Read was Invisible Women: Data Bias in a World Designed By Men by Caroline Criado Perez.  A landmark, prize-winning, international bestselling examination of how a gender gap in data perpetuates bias and disadvantages women.

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 address was given by Brea Baker, Chief Equity Officer at Inspire Justiceis a skilled communications strategist, influencer engagement professional, activist/organizer, and social impact advisor. She has contributed to dozens of electoral and advocacy campaigns including the 2017 Women’s March (where she served as the youngest national organizer), the 2018 student walkouts against gun violence, Jumaane Williams’ successful bid for NYC Public Advocate, and more.


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 released during summer 2023.  Please register for programming through the Event Digest and HarrisHub. 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 18, 2023.


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.