About Us

The Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy is a vibrant intellectual community of faculty, master's and Ph.D. students, researchers, and administrative staff striving to improve public policy and practice in the areas of health care, human services, criminal justice, inequality, education, and labor. The work of the Center draws on the worlds of scholarship, policy, and practice to address pressing questions by:

  • Carrying out research on important policy issues that affect the lives of those who are most vulnerable and needy;
  • Providing professional education for those in the world of practice;
  • Educating the next generation of academics and policy scholars;
  • Ensuring that research and education are closely tied to and draw from politics and practice in the field; and
  • Developing working partnerships with the broader policy community.

Over the last twenty years, the Wiener Center has been an influential voice in domestic policy through faculty work on community policing, welfare reform, youth violence, inner city poverty, youth and the low-wage labor market, American Indian economic and social development, and medical error rates. Our uniqueness is that we have a group of serious scholars who not only produce high-quality policy-oriented research but also understand the political and management challenges of implementing their recommendations because many have held important positions in public agencies and because our faculty members involve practitioners in their research in a serious way. This "practical experience" influences the questions we choose to ask and increases our credibility in teaching and policy recommendation.

Our research portfolio is both broad and deep, spanning many academic disciplines, encompassing traditional research as well as executive sessions, case-based research, and action research, and employing a variety of research methodologies. It is inspired by our focus on bettering the lives of our fellow citizens, particularly those who are most vulnerable and needy.

The Wiener Center is home to two Ph.D. programs - The Joint Doctoral Programs in Government, Sociology, and Social Policy and the Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality and Social Policy. Within the Harvard University Native American Program, the Center's Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development also supports a Ph.D. program for students working on American Indian issues. Joseph Newhouse, a member of the Center, chairs the University's Doctoral Program in Health Policy.

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