Former New Zealand Prime Minister Bill English Named Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics

Cambridge, MA – Today, the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School announced that former Prime Minister of New Zealand Bill English will serve as a Visiting Fellow from October 21-23. While at the IOP, Mr. English will work with the Harvard community to better understand the importance of social policy reform and encourage national governments to use technology to make government programs more accessible. He will also discuss his time as prime minister and role of party politics in New Zealand. "I am thrilled to speak with– and learn from– students at Harvard University,” said Mr. English.

“The effectiveness of politics and government work has never been more questioned and the Harvard Institute of Politics is doing vital work showcasing good government to the Harvard community. Governments around the world need quick, inventive, and creative thinking to solve a well-known list of big problems and I’m eager to speak with students from a diversity of academic backgrounds to discuss new solutions building on their native experience of a data driven world."

The Visiting Fellows Program provides short-term engagement designed to give the Harvard community, and in particular undergraduates, an opportunity to learn from, challenge, and be inspired by some of the most influential newsmakers and elected officials of our time. Mr. English will work closely with a team student “liaisons” who will coordinate his visit and serve as ambassadors to the broader Harvard community. Mr. English’s fellowship will begin on October 21 and conclude on October 23.

“We are pleased to welcome former Prime Minister English to the Institute of Politics,” said IOP Director Mark D. Gearan '78. “From leading New Zealand through the financial crisis of 2008 and investing in the modernization of his nation’s public services, he brings to Harvard a wealth of experiences and leadership knowledge. All of us can learn from his model of public service as a former head of state.”

“Mr. English continues the Institute of Politics’ storied tradition of giving students an opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most important leaders,” said Fellows Program Student Co-chair Abby Bloomfield ’20. Co-chair Shreeya Panigrahi ’19 added, “The former prime minister’s experiences will be an invaluable resource to the Harvard community, and we hope our classmates will take what they learn and apply that knowledge to their studies and work going forward."

Prior to serving as his country’s leader, Mr. English served as deputy prime minister and minister of finance for six years. Before that, he served as leader of the New Zealand’s National Party and as a Member of Parliament. Since stepping away from public office in 2018, Mr. English now serves as the director of Westfarmers, the largest private employer in Australia and New Zealand.

His visiting fellowship at Harvard Kennedy School is a part of a continued effort by the IOP to showcase leadership from across the world and to encourage its students to pursue careers in public service. Each year, the IOP solicits applications and recruits new participants for the Visiting Fellows Program. The Spring 2018 Class of Visiting Fellows includes former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Former Mayors Landrieu, Nutter, and Villaraigosa are co-leading a study group titled “Politics, Potholes, and Public Service,” which will focus on leadership at the local level.


The Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard Kennedy School was established in 1966 as a memorial to President John F. 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. For more about the Institute and its mission, visit