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Harvard Kennedy School PolicyCast

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A weekly podcast on public policy, politics and global issues hosted by Matt Cadwallader and featuring leading voices from Harvard Kennedy School and beyond.




Ban Ki-moon on Global Leadership

For the last few months, former United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been working with students and faculty at HKS on the deeply complex problems he grappled with during his decade-long tenure as the world's top diplomat. In this episode, Ban discusses the experiences that drove him to pursue public service as a young man - including a high school encounter with John F. Kennedy; the skillset that sets effective world leaders apart; the oft-overlooked connection between climate...

Duration: 00:25:12

The Rights and Wrongs of Economics

Prof. Dani Rodrik has never been shy about bucking conventional wisdom, and many of his insights, often deemed unorthodox at their inception, now seem prescient. Nowhere is that more clear than in his warning, twenty years ago, that unrestricted globalization could have a backlash effect, straining the fundamental ideals that support democratic governance. In this episode, Rodrik explains some of his more notable insights, and discusses his new book, which takes aim at both economists and...

Duration: 00:29:27

How the EPA got the Biggest Carbon Emitters to Fight Climate Change

Former EPA Chief Gina McCarthy explains how she was able to get utility companies, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States, on board with regulations to fight global climate change. The resulting Clean Power Plan has helped bring emissions from US electricity production to their lowest level since 1993. She also discusses the EPA’s future under Scott Pruitt, her successor in the Trump administration, and the risks of disregarding science as a means for formulating policy.

Duration: 00:36:05

The Causes and Consequences of Inequality

HKS and HGSE Professor David Deming delves into the complicated causes and consequences of inequality, discusses why jobs lost from traditional sectors like manufacturing aren’t likely to return, and explains his belief in education as an important piece of the solution.

Duration: 00:26:44

Gender and Race in the Political Press

Farai Chideya has covered every presidential election since 1996, but after last year’s raucous campaign, she wondered how how political campaign coverage is influenced by the gender and racial makeup of our political press. This spring she joined the Shorenstein Center as a Joan Shorenstein Fellow to take a closer look at the question, but was surprised by the number of newsrooms that were deeply reluctant to engage on the subject.

Duration: 00:29:09

Roundtable: The French Presidential Election

After a series of upset victories for right-wing populist movements around the globe, the French presidential election has been subject to close international scrutiny. But the narratives that animate that scrutiny often reflect international uncertainty over the stability of the post-war liberal world order, rather than the complicated politics that have driven France over the last few years. As Tip O’Neill famously said, all politics is local. In this episode, our three experts discuss...

Duration: 00:49:35

Confirming Gorsuch

Former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte, a visiting fellow at both the Kennedy School's Belfer Center and Institute of Politics, takes us behind the scenes of Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, reflects on the value of the U.S. Senate and its infamous filibuster, and discusses the challenges facing Republicans as they try to turn their control of Congress and the White House into meaningful legislative victories.

Duration: 00:25:05

How Narrative Drives Movements

Senior Lecturer Marshall Ganz describes the essential role of storytelling in leadership and organizing. He explains how skilled campaigners leverage the public narrative to their advantage by appealing first to the heart, and then the mind, and cites recent examples from both sides of the aisle.

Duration: 00:31:52

Controlling the Global Thermostat

HKS Professor David Keith describes both the promise and peril involved with using geo-engineering to mitigate the effects of climate change. Solar radiation management (SRM) could conceivably cool the earth by placing particles in the upper atmosphere that reflect sunlight away. It's an idea that goes back as far as the Johnson administration, but has long been seen as too risky to be worth serious study. But Professor Keith says that's now changing. The study of SRM evokes a...

Duration: 00:24:54

Public Diplomacy and the Post-Truth World

Former Time Managing Editor Rick Stengel, who recently stepped down as U.S. Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, emphasizes the value of the State Department’s public diplomacy efforts, despite signs that the Trump Administration could soon curtail them. He also discusses how journalism needs to adapt to a crowded marketplace of ideas where facts aren't always regarded as necessary. Stengel is currently the Walter Shorenstein Media and Democracy Fellow at the...

Duration: 00:31:09

A White House Debriefing

Josh Earnest, former White House Press Secretary during the Obama administration, offers his assessment of the Trump administration’s handling of the press, and gives a behind the scenes look at several key moments in Obama’s second term, including when ISIS overtook the Iraqi city of Mosul, the accidental killing of an American hostage in a US counterterrorism operation, and Hillary Clinton’s surprise loss on election night in 2016. Earnest was on campus for a JFK Jr. Forum event...

Duration: 00:32:16

Turning the Women’s March into a Women's Movement

How do you turn protest into policy? Three HKS experts discuss the aftermath of the historic Women’s March on Washington this past January, and explain what needs to happen next in order to translate that activism into real policy changes. Featuring HKS Assistant Professor Leah Wright Rigueur, Women and Public Policy Program Executive Director Victoria Budson, and HKS Adjunct Lecturer Tim McCarthy.

Duration: 00:56:49

Presidential Secrecy

Mary Graham, Co-Director of the Transparency Policy Project at the Kennedy School’s Ash Center, discusses her book Presidents’ Secrets: The Use and Abuse of Hidden Power, which traces the evolution of secrecy in the executive branch, beginning with George Washington’s remarkably open administration, through the communist scares of the 20th century, all the way to the current president, Donald Trump.

Duration: 00:20:56

The Practical Failure of the Travel Ban

Gil Kerlikowske, the recently retired commissioner of U.S. Customs and Border Protection and current Institute of Politics fellow, discusses the breakdowns in the rollout of the Trump administration’s executive order limiting travel by citizens of seven Middle Eastern nations into the United States. Kerlikowske details the complexity involved in implementing a major policy across the country’s largest law enforcement agency, and how a lack of planning and communication ended up creating...

Duration: 00:22:01

Steering Clear of Nuclear Fears

HKS Professor Matthew Bunn, co-principal investigator for the Belfer Center’s Project on Managing the Atom, explains how the US nuclear arsenal is managed, what the outgoing Obama administration’s $1 trillion commitment to modernization will entail, and what, if any, changes can be expected under President Trump. He also discusses the state of non-proliferation and the greatest nuclear threats the world faces today.

Duration: 00:30:05

Reason for Hope

HKS Professor Kathryn Sikkink shows how human rights efforts over the last century have largely succeeded in improving the living conditions for the vast majority of the world, and that even though the work is far from over and setbacks are inevitable, there is reason to have hope for things to continue to improve.

Duration: 00:22:58

Roundtable: Donald Trump’s Approach to Leadership

Three faculty members discuss the history of presidential leadership, how Donald Trump’s business experience will translate to the federal government, and how his relationship with a republican congress could play out. Guests include Senior Lecturer David King, chair of the Kennedy School’s Masters of Public Administration programs, Lecturer Barbara Kellerman, Founding Executive Director of the School’s Center for Public Leadership, and Professor Roger Porter, who served for more than a...

Duration: 00:43:35

Roundtable: Trump's Economic Challenges

Three HKS faculty members discuss the broad economic challenges facing President Donald Trump as he takes office, including the cumulative effects of decades of wage stagnation, rising healthcare costs, and declining economic mobility, as well as the growing challenges posed by automation and the gig economy. Featuring Dean Douglas Elmendorf, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, Professor Brigitte Madrian, a behavioral economist focused on household savings and investment...

Duration: 00:48:00

Roundtable: Trump’s Foreign Policy

As Donald Trump prepares to take office, three HKS faculty members discuss the challenges he’ll face in pursuing his unique brand of politics on the world stage. Featuring former US Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, former Department of Homeland Security Official Juliette Kayyem and Foreign Policy Columnist Stephen Walt.

Duration: 00:38:29

The Challenges Faced by Human Rights Organizations

Sushma Raman, executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights and adjunct lecturer at Harvard Kennedy School, digs into the challenges facing human rights organizations on both the international and local levels and how they are rising up to meet the challenge.

Duration: 00:21:00

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