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. Our students and alumni, our faculty, and our staff all strive to advance this mission—whether they are on campus, elsewhere in the United States, or around the world.

Creating societies that are more sustainably prosperous involves improving social policy and empowering people and communities that have been let down or left out. In this issue of HKS Magazine, we share stories about alumni tackling economic and social inequality as well as stories about faculty-driven projects that address this crucial set of challenges. 

We profile three alumni in California—Scott Hugo MPP/JD 2015, Hilary Norton MPP 1992, and Chuck Flacks MPP 1992—working on issues ranging from environmental and housing justice to homelessness and transportation. In a short Q&A, we hear from Jeremy Ney MPA 2021, who uses data visualization to help policymakers understand trends in American inequality. 

We also highlight programs at the School that aim to change the conversation about inequality; improve the quality of life for low-wage workers; develop better job training and access to the workforce; and provide direct support to people in extreme hardship. The featured initiatives include the Stone Program in Wealth Distribution, Inequality, and Social Policy; the Reimagining the Economy Project; the Shift Project; the Project on Workforce; and the Taubman Center’s research on Chelsea Eats.

In addition to the stories in this issue focused on economic and social inequality, we include a feature on Tarek Masoud, the Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Governance, and his Initiative on Democracy in Hard Places and work focused on democracy in Arab countries. We also showcase a research project to quantify methane emissions that Robert Stavins, the A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy and Economic Development, is undertaking with Daniel Jacob, the Gordon McKay Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry and Environmental Engineering at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

In so many ways, members of the Harvard Kennedy School community are tackling the country’s and the world’s most pressing public challenges—and I am delighted we can share some of their stories with you. As always, I hope you find HKS Magazine both inspiring and informative. 


Dean Doug Elmendorf
Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy

Banner image: Dean Elmendorf at a Dean’s Council presentation in November. Photo by Martha Stewart.