AS THIS ISSUE of Harvard Kennedy School Magazine reaches alumni and friends of the School, a new cohort of students has arrived on campus—with great excitement and perhaps a little anxiousness about the year ahead. These students come with a wonderful variety of specific aims: Some wish to improve their countries and communities through roles in government, others through civil society or the private sector; some are focused on strengthening democracy, others on expanding economic opportunity, improving security, enhancing human rights, or other issues. What unites all our students is excellence, passion, and a steadfast commitment to advancing the public interest.

In a world marked by change, many of these students are looking for innovative ways to solve long-standing public problems. Others are grappling with challenges that are themselves new. Over the past few decades, the rapid pace of development in science and technology has transformed our societies. At the same time, evolving political trends, economic forces, and social movements have fundamentally altered the lives of people around the world—sometimes for good, sometimes for ill.

In this issue of the magazine, you will read about how the Kennedy School is tackling the public challenges that the digital revolution has created. Our new faculty, courses, research papers, and interactions with policymakers and practitioners are addressing a wide range of risks and opportunities. Kennedy School alumni—such as Stephanie Nguyen MPP 2019, who helped redesign the U.S. government’s Medicare payment system, and Kirsten Rulf MPP 2017, who works to shape digital policy for the German government—are leading the way in addressing these challenges. And biotechnology may be the next daunting frontier. You can read here about Professor Sheila Jasanoff’s research exploring how advances in bioscience, such as gene-editing technologies, have fundamentally affected the way we think about human life.

The shifts brought by social movements over the past few decades have been transformative as well. This issue of the magazine describes Professor Erica Chenoweth’s research comparing violent and nonviolent mass movements.

I hope you enjoy reading about change-makers of all stripes in this issue—Kennedy School faculty members, fellows, and alumni who are improving public policy and public leadership not only for today but for tomorrow. I look forward to seeing the Kennedy School students who have just arrived on campus join their ranks. And I wish all of us a productive and peaceful fall.

Dean Doug Elmendorf
Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy
September 2019

Banner image: Dean Doug Elmendorf with students at the 2019 Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), the MPP capstone requirement

Photo by Natalie Montaner