The Harvard Kennedy School's Institute of Politics’ (IOP) was established in 1966 as a memorial to President Kennedy. The IOP’s mission is to unite and engage students, particularly undergraduates, with academics, politicians, activists, and policymakers on a non-partisan basis to inspire them to consider careers in politics and public service. The Institute strives to promote greater understanding and cooperation between the academic world and the world of politics and public affairs.
The Institute oversees the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum, one of the world’s premier arenas for political speech, discussion and debate. The IOP Fellows program offers a unique opportunity for political practitioners to spend the semester at Harvard interacting with and learning from students.
The IOP also offers wide-ranging opportunities for students to practice, get inspired, and gain the skills for a future in public service. Fourteen programs available to students include the Harvard Public Opinion Project, a nationwide survey project of young adults’ political views; and the Women's Initiative in Leadership, created to address the interest and importance of female students at Harvard in developing leadership skills,.
Students are also offered wide-ranging internship and career opportunities, including 100 paid public-service summer internships around the world
In addition, the Institute offers conferences for new members of Congress and newly elected mayors, and, after each Presidential election, brings together campaign managers and strategists to analyze the race.
The IOP provides avenues for practical experience and encourages students to examine critically and think creatively about politics and public issues.