In the early 1980s, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and the Program in Criminal Justice Policy and Management developed a series of Executive Sessions with the purpose of allowing practitioners and academics to meet, confer, and search for effective means of addressing important public problems. More specifically, these Executive Sessions were created to generate a “sustained conversation” among a “core group of members selected for their ability to provide leadership to a practice field,” and to produce “learning and transformation in a practice field through continuing dialogue, digestible publications, and education.”

The basic model of an Executive Session is a series of five or six three-day meetings, usually held over a period of three years, in which 25 to 30 high-level practitioners and ...

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