Aftermath of a fatal shooting in Chicago. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)


HKS research: Black and Hispanic students living close to police killings suffer lasting trauma

A new research report by Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor Desmond Ang finds that police killings of minorities have negative, long-lasting impact on school performance and mental health for black and Hispanic students living nearby. Ang writes: “In the days immediately after a police killing, absenteeism spikes among nearby students. Effects are largest for students who lived closest to the event…. This is consistent with the highly localized nature of police killings, nearly 80% of which went unmentioned in local newspapers.” Ang’s research focuses on the intersection of race, education, and government. For this study, reported in a Kennedy School working paper, Ang drew from data about 600 officer-involved shootings and more than 700,000 high school students in a large urban school district over a 15-year period. He found that black and Hispanic students living within half a mile of a police killing saw their grades go down and they were more likely to experience emotional disturbance and to report feeling unsafe. The impact persists for several semesters. Ang explains his findings in this Q&A.

Upcoming: “Where do we go from here: A roadmap from protest to policy,” online discussion, Friday, June 12, 6 p.m., hosted by Cornell William Brooks, faculty director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice.



A discussion on black lives, protests, and democracy,” an Ash Center event with Professors Leah Wright Rigueur and Megan Ming Francis


Kennedy School researchers document COVID-19-related food hunger and hardship

Researchers based at the Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston at Harvard Kennedy School are interviewing 60 families each week to learn about the challenges they are facing during the COVID-19 crisis. Six Kennedy School graduate students are conducting the research, which involves in-depth telephone interviews with each family, as part of the The Massachusetts Food Access project, with the support of the Shah Family Foundation. The Rappaport Institute is led by Professor Jeffrey Liebman, who also heads the Taubman Center for State and Local Government. An assessment of the first two weeks of interviews found that two groups are experiencing extreme economic hardship: undocumented workers, including many who lost jobs in restaurants and cleaning firms; and people who live solely on supplemental security benefits and a state food assistance program. By contrast, those receiving unemployment insurance and those with Social Security benefits or pensions were getting by okay.



The Journalist’s Resource, a project of the Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, has published analyses of recent research on deaths in police custody and on the qualified immunity doctrine, which protects police officers from civil lawsuits.


HKS faculty reflect on racial justice protests: milestones achieved, obstacles ahead

America has reached a historic inflection point on race, driven by the public upheaval over recent incidents of police brutality and killings of black people, Harvard Kennedy School Professors Khalil Muhammad and Erica Chenoweth say. Speaking on HKS PolicyCast with host Thoko Moyo, both believe a once-in-a-generation window of opportunity has opened to correct systemic racism in American policing and other areas of society. Muhammad says for real change to occur, a radical policing overhaul is vital. “We will need Americans to vote for, demand, protest, advocate for a different accountability structure and a different notion of what it means to be a police officer,” he says. Chenoweth says Black Lives Matter has already achieved some milestones that mark successful protest movements, including defections from former foes like local, state, and national leaders, business owners, corporations, and clergy. “Many different important pillars of support that maintain the system are starting to waver, and that is a really meaningful indicator of the power of this movement and its potential to actually transform things,” Chenoweth says. Chenoweth and Muhammad have deep expertise in this area: Muhammad is a scholar on the history of race, criminal justice, and inequality, and faculty director of the Kennedy School’s Institutional Anti-racism and Accountability Project; Chenoweth studies social and protest movements, with a focus on nonviolent protest, and directs the new Nonviolent Action Lab at the Kennedy School’s Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.



An effective government and a certain cohesion within society are necessary prerequisites for economic success. Without broad societal legitimacy, there can be no enduring prosperity. And broad societal legitimacy, it seems to me, is under question right now in a way that has not taken place in the United States since the late 1960s.

University Professor Lawrence Summers, Harvard University president emeritus, speaking on Malcolm Wiener Conference Call


  • What will it take to stand up again together? Start with accountability [Nancy Gibbs] Los Angeles Times

  • The right thing: When peaceful protests and a pandemic collide [Jeffrey Seglin] Tribune Content Agency

  • How to determine if a business is COVID-19 safe? Create a restaurant-style grading system [Archon Fung, Mary Graham, David Weil] Los Angeles Times

  • 89 former Defense officials: The military must never be used to violate constitutional rights [Ash Carter] Washington Post

  • Can we recover our soft power? [Joseph Nye] The Hill

  • Study: Police killings traumatize high school students and hurt academic performance [Desmond Ang] Vox

  • “Out of options in terms of reform”: Khalil Gibran Muhammad on the racist history of police in U.S. [Khalil Gibran Muhammad] Democracy Now

  • America was the keeper of democracy. We were imperfect but we kept trying, until now. [Wendy Sherman] USA Today

  • The funeral for George Floyd [Cornell William Brooks] CTV News

  • What ‘defund the police’ might look like [Khalil Gibran Muhammad] Washington Post

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