Arnold Howitt Photo
Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy

Arnold M. Howitt is Senior Adviser of the Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at HKS. He also co-directs the Program on Crisis Leadership, jointly sponsored by the Ash Center and the Taubman Center for State and Local Government. Dr. Howitt was Executive Director of the Ash Center from 2008-2016, and Executive Director/Associate Director of the Taubman Center from 1984-2008. He has been a faculty member and administrator at Harvard since 1976.

Dr. Howitt works extensively in executive education for senior officials. He chairs or co-chairs Leadership in Crises, Leadership in Homeland Security, and the General and Flag Officer Homeland Security Executive Seminar, and co-founded and has taught in Crisis Leadership for Higher Education and the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative. He has also been deeply involved in executive education programs for China, serving as faculty chair of China Crisis Management and co-chair of the China's Leaders in Development, Shanghai Executive Public Management, and Beijing Executive Public Management  programs.

Dr. Howitt's research focuses on public management and intergovernmental policy implementation. He has conducted research or consulted for public agencies at the federal, state, and local levels, as well as lecturing widely on these subjects.

Dr. Howitt has worked extensively on emergency preparedness and crisis management issues in the US and other countries since 1999. He has recently been researching and writing about COVID-19. the Notre-Dame de :Paris fire, Nepal’s emergency response to the 2015 earthquakes, lessons from the emergency response to the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Japan’s response to and recovery from the 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nu­clear accident, implementation of the National Incident Management System (NIMS) in the United States, and cross-agency and interjurisdictional coordination in China’s emergency management system. He also develops case studies on crisis management and disaster recovery issues in the US and other countries.

In related activities, he was co-organizer and co-chair of the International Network of Disaster Studies conference in July 2018 in Morioka, Japan. Previously, he was a co-organizer and co-chair of international conferences on emergency response and disaster recovery in Haikou, China (2017); on disaster recovery at HKS (2016); and of a “lessons-learned” roundtable at Harvard (2011) for leaders of humanitarian and public health organizations that responded to Haiti’s 2010 earth­quake.

Dr. Howitt also consulted in Nepal on disaster recovery issues following the 2015 earthquakes near Kathmandu (2015); worked with the City of Los Angeles on advance disaster recovery planning (2010-11); and served as a strategic adviser and trainer-of-trainers for Chi­na’s National Institute of Emergency Management (2010-11, 2015). He also  was a member of a study panel of the Transporta­tion Research Board/National Acad­emies of Science on the role of transit in disaster evacuation (2006-2008). At HKS, Dr. Howitt directed the Executive Session on Domestic Pre­­­par­ed­ness (1999-2003), spon­sored by the U.S. De­­partment of Jus­tice, to conduct re­search on U.S. pre­paredness for ter­rorism and organize and manage a standing taskforce of Harvard faculty and lo­cal, state, and federal offi­cials in emer­gency manage­ment, public safety, law en­forcement, and public health.

Since 2018, Dr. Howitt has taught part-time at Tsinghua University’s Schwarzman College in Beijing, China, as  the Johnson and Johnson Chair Professor of Leadership. He is a lifetime Global Fellow at Japan’s Iwate University and was a visiting faculty member at Keio University in Japan in summer 2018. Previously, he held visiting faculty positions at Kyoto (2013) and Kansai Universities (2012) in Japan.

Among other writing, Dr. Howitt is co-author/editor of Public Health Preparedness (2017), Natural Disaster Management in the Asia Pacific (2015), Managing Crises: Responding to Large-Scale Emergencies (2009), Countering Terrorism: Dimensions of Preparedness (2003), and Perspectives on Management Capacity Building (1986), and author of Managing Federalism: Studies in Intergovernmental Relations (1984).

Dr. Howitt received his AB from Columbia University and MA and PhD in political science from Harvard University.

Executive Education Programs

Academic Journal/Scholarly Articles


Book Chapters

Edited Volumes

Research Papers/Reports

Magazine and Newspaper Articles


Cities & Communities
Public Leadership & Management

Mailing Address

Harvard Kennedy School
79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138