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John F. Kennedy School of Government
History and Background


The idea of a school of public affairs at Harvard was born in the midst of the Great Depression and on the eve of World War II. As government grappled with historic challenges both domestic and international, Harvard alumnus Lucius N. Littauer backed his vision of a school for a new professional governing class with an unprecedented $2 million gift, then the largest single gift from an individual donor ever given to a university.

For the past seven decades the Kennedy School of Government has strived to place itself at the vanguard of studying public policy and preparing its practioners. Today the Kennedy School has evolved into one of the world’s most eminent social science research institutions – housing 15 research centers and institutes and more than thirty executive education and degree programs – with worldwide reach and influence. More than 27,000 Kennedy School alumni reside in 137 countries and serve in a wide range of positions in the public, private and nonprofit sectors.

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