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About The IOP


"We're the part of the Kennedy School that faces outward to the people the Kennedy School is serving, policy makers and officials," says Institute of Politics Assistant Director Charles Trueheart.

The Institute of Politics (IOP) was founded as a "living memorial to President Kennedy" in 1966 to "bridge the gap between the world of government and the academic community," he explains.

Operating under the Institute are a diverse range of research projects, study groups, and forums which bring together decision-makers and academics.

The Institute was founded separately from the Kennedy School but is closely related and in 1978 moved into the current location with the Kennedy School. Trueheart says that the IOP is administered by the Kennedy School but that it is relatively more independent than other research organizations within the school because it larger and has an independent endowment.

The IOP's Student Program offers undergraduates the opportunity to become involved with many of, the programs at the Kennedy School. "We are attempting to meet the needs and interests of the undergraduate community as the Kennedy School does for graduate students," says Trueheart.

The student set up extra-curricular student study groups taught by the Fellows and other prominent experts, this semester including Ambassador Donald R. Norland's "The United States and Sub-Sahara Africa" and Boston Globe editorial cartoonist Paul Szep's "Satire."

Undergraduates also sponsor summer internships and research awards, the Harvard Political Review and other projects.

The Fellows program brings six people "who have distinguished themselves in public life" to the Kennedy School for a semester where they teach a study group, do research, and "generally make themselves available to the Harvard community," Trucheart says.

Fellows include politicians in elective office, campaign advisors, and political activists who have the time to come to Harvard for a semester.

"The Fellowship is geared for people in periods of transition," says Fellows Coordinator Theresa A. Donovan. "It's an opportunity to reflect on what they have been doing and what they might want to do."

The! Fellowship is also an opportunity to conduct research in a particular subject. Last year, Fellows studied subjects ranging from drug trafficking to pregnancy discrimination in hiring.

Donovan says that people interested in becoming Fellows generally contact the IOP, although the Institute conducts searches, as well. The IOP staff and undergraduates on the Student Advisory Committee review the applications and conduct informal interviews.

Donovan notes that they make an effort to accept a varied group racially, politically, and professionally.

The IOP also sponsors study programs for professional politicians. Last year's Seminar on Transition and Leadership for Newly-Elected Mayors attracted more than 20 mayors for a four day seminar during which Harvard faculty and officials including Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis lectured the participants on how to make the transition into office and efficiently use the first few months.

The IOP Forum, located on the main floor of the Kennedy School, sponsors a large number of events ranging from a discussion of women's issue to last year's two nationally televised debates between the seven Democratic candidates for President.

The IOP is currently "planning, designing, and raising money" for a new center at the Kennedy School which will take over some of the projects on the press now being conducted in different areas, according to Irucheart, The Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy will examine the political impact of the press. The center will probably open before the end of next summer.

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