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The Social and Urban Policy (SUP) concentration in the Master in Public Policy (MPP) program draws together a set of policy domains — health, education, labor, poverty, crime, housing, urban land-use planning, and urban economic development — that share a common concern with promoting a sustainable and improving level of well being for all members of society, especially for those vulnerable children, elderly and adults who live at society’s margin. A particular focus of this concentration is policymaking and governance in urban areas since cities concentrate both opportunities for prosperity and challenges of sustainability and social inclusion.
The policy domains of concern in this concentration are relevant throughout the world: the United States, other OECD countries, and the developing world. Some social policies — such as health, education, public safety, and housing — are concerned in part with ensuring a basic level of opportunity for all members of society. Other social policies — including labor and social insurance — are intended to protect families and individuals from catastrophic events, such as disability, unemployment, major illness, or poverty in retirement. Still other social policies are designed to improve the overall welfare of society in the expectation or hope that an important share of the benefit will be captured by society’s more vulnerable.
The focus on urban governance reflects the fact that urbanization, and the opportunities and problems it generates, constitute one of the most overwhelming trends of our time. The policy domains of interest in this concentration often find particularly acute expression in large urban places. And the simultaneous pursuit of prosperity, sustainability, social peace and equity, and a high quality of life for all pose very special challenges of governance in large urban agglomerations.
There are several centers and programs at Harvard Kennedy School that conduct research central to the SUP concentration, including: