Socially distanced passengers awaiting a tram in Nice, France. (Photo: Eric Gaillard, Reuters)

What will our post-pandemic world look like?

For months, the coronavirus has stalked across the globe, touching millions. Policymakers and public-sector employees face their biggest test in generations as lives and livelihoods hang in a delicate balance. In the face of health crises, economic collapse, social and political disruption, we asked Harvard Kennedy School faculty, in fields ranging from climate change to international development, from democracy to big power relations, to tell us how this epochal event will change our world. These essays from more than a dozen experts offer perspectives on what the pandemic has done and will do—and how we should respond.

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Professor of Practice Cornell William Brooks explains in this video conversation what “defund the police” might mean for the nation’s 18,000 police departments.


The pandemic and racial justice challenges collide

Kennedy School scholars of race, history, and public policy discussed the “two pandemics” confronting the United States: racism and COVID-19. Professors Desmond Ang, Cornell William Brooks, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, and Leah Wright Rigueur explored how historical and structural racism has left Black people in America disproportionately vulnerable to the pandemic’s economic, social, and health consequences—and how the same forces have contributed to police violence and other discriminatory practices. They also discussed ways that Harvard Kennedy School can contribute policy ideas and leadership to help anti-racism efforts succeed. Their conversation was part of the Dean’s Discussions, a series hosted by HKS Dean Douglas Elmendorf.

Upcoming: “The movement for Black lives: where do we go from here?” Moderated by Professor Leah Wright Rigueur, Thursday July 2, noon EDT.



It is not just the disease that will have a human toll. The corresponding slowing of the global economy from the pandemic is leading to unemployment and food insecurity. For the first time in over 20 years, we expect that global poverty will rise. This, in turn, may roll back gains in nutrition, education, and preventative health.

Professor Rema Hanna, describing the pandemic in developing countries


Pandemic resilience: Mayors consider responses amid justice protests

Health policy experts addressed mayors and senior officials from more than 200 cities in the new Leading Social and Economic Recovery Series from the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, based at the Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and led by Professor Jorrit de Jong. In a session focusing on “racism, protests, and COVID-19 prevention,” public health authorities offered recommendations on how to balance the right to protest and concerns about spreading the novel coronavirus. The session also featured Professor Danielle Allen, director of Harvard's Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, who described a moment of opportunity resulting from the global pandemic, economic crisis, and racial justice outcry. In a presentation on “pandemic resilience,” she told the mayors they have an opportunity to reinvent public governance.


  • This historic moment calls for a Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission [Cornell William Brooks] CNN

  • Empathy is both a trait and a skill. Here's how to strengthen it. [Jennifer Lerner] CNN

  • Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur tells 'Powerhouse Politics', candidate's policing track records could complicate Biden's VP search [Leah Wright Rigueur] ABC News

  • The condemnation of blackness [Khalil Gibran Muhammad] RadioWest

  • Dr. Leah Wright Rigueur talks about current issues of race and social justice [Leah Wright Rigueur] KLTV

  • Former NAACP president, Cornell William Brooks, says American policing needs ‘top to bottom’ cultural change [Cornell William Brooks] WGBH

  • Sit with negative emotions, don’t push them away [Arthur Brooks] The Atlantic

  • Juliette Kayyem has plenty to say about Boston's recovery and staying safe this summer [Juliette Kayyem] Boston Magazine

Insight. Policy. Action. Ideas from Harvard Kennedy School.

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