fbpx About | Harvard Kennedy School

Learn. Lead. Serve.

Harvard Kennedy School’s mission is to improve public policy and leadership so people can live in societies that are more safe, free, just, and sustainably prosperous. By combining cutting-edge research, the teaching of outstanding students, and direct interaction with practitioners, we have an impact on solving public problems that no other institution can match.

Students and alumni of Harvard Kennedy School are showing their commitment to public service in their countries, states, cities and neighborhoods around the world.

Through research, teaching, and engagement with practitioners, Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government improves public policy and public leadership so that people can live in societies that are safer, freer, more just, and more sustainably prosperous.

Our faculty, students, staff, about 23,000 degree program alumni, and more than 66,000 executive education participants tackle a diverse range of public challenges in the United States and around the world.

Our teaching, research, and engagement with practitioners focus on these priorities:

  • Protecting international security and freedom
  • Strengthening democracy
  • Advancing social justice and human rights
  • Increasing economic well-being
  • Enhancing sustainability
  • Improving public leadership and management

History

A new kind of institution

The John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University was established in 1936. At the time, the United States was recovering from the Great Depression, and the government was grappling with historic domestic and international challenges. Seeing a need for improved, professionalized public service, Harvard alumnus Lucius N. Littauer funded the Graduate School of Public Administration at Harvard with an unprecedented $2 million gift. At the time, it was the largest single gift from an individual donor given to a university.

Since then, HKS has stayed faithful to its mission to improve public policy and leadership so people can live in safer, freer, more just, and more prosperous societies.

Now more than ever

Our work to advance the common good has never been more important. In the United States and around the world, many people have lost confidence in their leaders and their governments because of problems in politics, economics, security, and other aspects of our societies. To preserve the gains of the postwar order and enable further improvements in the lives of all people, the passion and skills of the Kennedy School community can make a crucial difference.

You can be part of this endeavor. Explore and learn more about Harvard Kennedy School.

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