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 public leadership across the United States and around the world so that people can lead safer, freer, and more prosperous lives. Over the decades, we have built and expanded our campus, hosted countless world leaders, and have improved public policy and leadership through the work of our faculty, staff, and the tens of thousands of alumni of our degree and executive education programs.

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.

Explore decades of informed debate

The John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, Harvard’s premier arena for political speech, discussion, and debate, regularly hosts heads of state, and leaders in politics, government, business, labor, and the media. Review four decades’ worth of archives.