The Kennedy School of Government bills the Institute of Politics (IOP) as its "bridge to the outside world."
Since its establishment in 1966 as a memorial to President John F. Kennedy '40, the IOP's visiting fellows program has brought dozens of political journalists, former elected officials and lobbyists to Cambridge.
Each semester, the IOP invites between five and seven people to come to Harvard and spend a few months of taking classes and teaching. From rowing crew to taking classes at the professional schools, fellows have the opportunity to throw themselves into life at Harvard--at least for a semester.
The fellows generally come to Harvard during a point of transition in their careers, and they use their time at the University to help them figure out their next career step.
In addition to the perks associated with the fellows program, each fellow is required to teach a special study group. Designed to encourage Harvard students to enter politics, the not-for-credit groups cover topics in state, local and national government.
The fellows often invite friends and acquaintances from the world of politics to help them teach their courses. Last semester, former Democratic presidential candidate Walter Mondale visited the study group of his former press secretary Maxine Isaacs and discussed the relationship between the press and presidential elections.
When selecting fellows, the IOP puts together a group of candidates and then invites them to Harvard for interviews. The nominees are interviewed by IOP staff, members of the Student Advisory Committee (SAC)--made up of undergraduates and graduate students--and a special fellowship panel.
The IOP usually attempts to choose a well-balanced group of people from different political parties and careers. Three of this semester's five fellows are women, including one former congresswoman.
Former fellows include Washington Post columnist David S. Broder, feminist Betty Freidan, current presidential candidate Sen. Paul Simon (D--III.) and former Congressman Bella Abzug.