AS THE SPRING TERM STARTS, I am excited to welcome students to our newly transformed campus. In this issue of the Harvard Kennedy School Magazine, you can see and read about the Kennedy School’s beautiful and practical new spaces for convening, teaching, learning, and collaborating—made possible by the Campaign for Harvard Kennedy School. The new buildings give us the room and resources to do our work better and to make an even larger positive difference for the world.
Our work is driven by a commitment to improving public policy and leadership. It is informed by a set of shared values, including respect for truth and knowledge, diversity and inclusion, civil discourse, and support of the public interest through effective government and institutions. In this magazine, you can read about Kennedy School students, faculty, and alumni who are undertaking projects that reflect these values and demonstrate our conviction that principled and effective public leadership can help to solve public problems.
One key problem, which I have noted before, is a widespread lack of trust in governments and elected officials. A number of initiatives at the Kennedy School this year focus on restoring trust by improving governance and the functioning of democracy in the United States and elsewhere in the world. Showcased in this issue of the magazine are the political activities of several recent alumni who have taken political office in France or have engaged the French electorate using data and technology.
When I think about the values that should drive public leadership, I am proud of the Kennedy School’s efforts to champion people who have been socially or economically disadvantaged, as well as to protect the vulnerable. You can see this value in the work of our alumni. Abdi Ismail Isse MC/MPA 2017 has devoted his career to providing humanitarian aid in war-torn countries and will use his Kennedy School experience to move into the field of conflict resolution. Back in the United States, Reshma Saujani MPP 1999, focuses on economic opportunity for women. Through Girls Who Code, a summer program that teaches computer science to girls, she is attempting to close the gender gap in the technology sector.
Finally, we pay tribute in this issue to someone who embodied the Kennedy School’s values-driven public leadership so well: Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development, who passed away in December. Calestous’s death hit many members of our community—including me—very hard. I hope that you are inspired by his life and extraordinary accomplishments—and by all the stories in this magazine that demonstrate just what the people of the Kennedy School can achieve in the world.
Dean Doug Elmendorf
Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy
Top image: Thousands contributed to the successful transformation of the HKS campus. But a few in particular led the way. David Ellwood (left), Doug Elmendorf (center), and John Haigh (right), had the vision and tenacity to bring the project to completion.