The mission of the Kennedy School is to solve public problems by improving public policy and leadership. We do this by weaving together research, teaching, and direct interaction with policymakers and public leaders. This combination of research and engagement with the world gives us both a depth of insight and the leverage to achieve change. We apply this approach across a wide array of public problems, in this country and around the world.

In my view, there is no greater public problem in the United States today than the lack of confidence in our political and economic system shown by so many Americans. Many millions of people are disappointed with their elected leaders, frustrated about economic changes that help others but hurt them, and angry at people they view as elite for being out of touch and self-serving. The resulting lack of trust in our political and economic order is damaging our norms and institutions, weakening our leadership in the world, and hindering our ability to work together to address many other issues.

Therefore, restoring public confidence in our system is of the utmost importance. The Kennedy School is working hard on both the political and economic aspects of this challenge. Under the banner of “Making Democracy Work,” the faculty, staff, students, and fellows at the School are engaged in a wide-ranging collection of activities to understand and improve the functioning of democracy in the United States and elsewhere in the world. I think of these activities as falling into four broad categories: the electoral process, the media and politics, the process of governance, and political views and movements. I hope that you enjoy learning a little about all the ways that we at Harvard Kennedy School are striving to make democracy work.


Dean Doug Elmendorf
Don K. Price Professor of Public Policy
November 2017

Read Dean Elmendorf’s thoughts on restoring trust in American economic and political systems.

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