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Why Policy?


Why Policy?

Social Impact, down to a science.

Do you have a passion to do good?

Where others see problems, do you see possibilities?

When answers look easy, do you look harder?

Addressing today’s global, interconnected challenges—and reaping the opportunities—takes more than good intentions. It takes serious people like you, willing to face the facts, to understand the data of how things are in order to make them better.

Because policy is not about feeling good. Policy is about doing good.

Turn your passion for doing good into proven social impact.


How Policy Affects Your Passion

How Policy Affects Your Passion

What difference do you want to make?

To produce positive social impact takes serious work, rigorous science, and the courage to find the most effective solutions. Whether your passion is tackling climate change at the systemic level, applying the most cutting-edge computer science to analyze how policies impact lives, or anything in between, you'll find the Harris academic and career resources that will help you achieve success on your terms.

Harris is an international leader in evidence-based, data-driven analysis of complex challenges across policy areas. Below is just a sampling of policy areas Harris students, alumni, and faculty are leading in.  

Energy & Environment

We’re probably forestalling adaptation if we don’t allow markets to accurately and freely price the risks caused by climate change.
—Michael Greenstone
Professor, Harris School of Public Policy
Director, Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago

Municipal Finance

“While we think all areas of public policy are important, what underlies most policy initiatives is funding. And if you can’t adequately finance government, you can’t address housing issues, environmental issues, public safety.”
—Mike Belsky
Director, Center for Municipal Finance at the Harris School of Public Policy

Conflict Resolution

“Across the University of Chicago and more broadly, there is an immense depth of scholarship and knowledge about the causes and nature of global conflict and how to resolve it. I hope to help make The Pearson Institute the place to be for anyone who works on or cares about these all-critical global issues.”
—James A. Robinson
University Professor, Harris School of Public Policy
Director, Pearson Institute for the Study and Resolution of Global Conflicts at the Harris School of Public Policy
Author, Why Nations Fail

Social Policy

“Poverty as a lived experience is often characterized not just by low income, but by ill health, insecurity, discomfort, isolation, and lack of agency.”
—Elizabeth Kneebone, MPP'03
Fellow, Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution
Confronting Suburban Poverty in America

Data Science

“What I found compelling about CAPP was that it was taking all of the things that I was interested in and then applying them to things that actually matter, that are really important for people’s everyday lives.”
—Alden Golab
Second-year Harris student, pursuing a master's degree in computational analysis and public policy (CAPP)

Politics & Policymaking

“On a day-to-day basis—in Chicago, in my district, in committee, on the floor, analyzing policy—the skill set I got at Harris is what I use the most.”
—Mike Quigley, AM'85
US Representative, 5th District of Illinois

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Why Harris?

Why Harris?

Fearless thinkers like you—from all sectors, ideologies, and backgrounds—come to Harris to investigate the world’s most complex challenges and determine how policy can address them.

At the University of Chicago, one of the world's great intellectual destinations, you’ll learn to face the toughest problems, challenge the easy answers, and make smarter, data-driven decisions that lead to the change you want to see.

You don’t have to wait for graduation to start making a difference. Combining real-world engagement and rigorous modeling and analysis, empowered by faculty who are innovators in their fields, you’ll confront issues arising in Chicago and around the world, right from day one.

This is a place for serious people with the courage to find and face the facts, take risks, and question the easy answers.
— Kerwin Charles, Interim Dean and Edwin and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Harris School of Public Policy

Harris gave me confidence in my skills, a quantitative foundation, and the ability to look at my role through a Chicago lens, which is really a disruptive lens. There are so many common themes between the Chicago philosophy and what is expected in Silicon Valley. When I got into leadership roles, that’s when my Harris education really proved to be a huge competitive advantage.
— Hilarie Koplow-McAdams, AM'87, President of the global tech company New Relic
If you’re implementing a policy and it’s not helping—or, more dramatically, if it’s making it worse for the people you’re trying to help—then you have to change your policy. That’s pretty obvious, but to do a good policy analysis you have to collect the right data and you need to ask the relevant questions. Harris helped me to know how to do that.
— Jaime Bellolio, MPP'10, Congressman, Chile