Note: This letter originally appeared as an e-mail sent to the Hopkins community on Friday October 6, 2023.
Dear Johns Hopkins Community:
In August our university proudly opened a magnificent new home in Washington, D.C., a dream long in the making and now fully realized as the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg Center at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue. Later this month, we will join together as a community to formally dedicate our spectacular new space and celebrate the further broadening of our aspirations and impact. I hope to see you there.
In addition, today I am thrilled to share with you that as a significant element of our deepening presence in the nation’s capital we are launching the Johns Hopkins University School of Government and Policy, our first new academic division since 2007.
The seeds of this new School of Government and Policy were planted many decades ago at Hopkins, as our colleagues in fields ranging from injury prevention to bioethics to civil engineering helped shape policies that have reduced infant mortality, addressed health disparities, and improved water safety around the world. But in 2019, when we began the dramatic renovation of what is now the Hopkins Bloomberg Center in Washington, D.C., the potential for even greater impact in the policy sphere took hold. At a time when the nation was reeling from years of political paralysis, polarization, and a growing discontent with the ability of governmental institutions to address urgent issues, the conversations intensified at Hopkins around the ways our university might be a part of the solution. Then, in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw that the expertise of our faculty and the necessity of data-driven research to inform public debate and action were in greater demand than ever before.
When we restarted the listening sessions for the university’s new strategic vision—the Ten for One—the call to undertake a deeper focus on policy and government innovation, across myriad fields of study and with a core focus on evidence-based research, was even more resounding. As we put pen to paper on the Ten for One last winter and received your further input throughout the spring and summer, we came together as a university around a bold goal: to fully embrace the transformative opportunity of the Hopkins Bloomberg Center in Washington and to deepen our engagement with issues of global policy and our impact in the public square.
With that as our charge, we now have before us the opportunity to create a school of government and policy in our nation’s capital that further leverages our university’s capacity to serve society, educate the next generation of public servants, develop data-driven approaches to government innovation, and meet intractable challenges facing today’s policymakers. Embedded at the crossroads of our three branches of government, the school will build upon the foundation of Johns Hopkins University’s nearly 150 years of leadership in research and discovery and draw on our long-standing and complementary strengths in science and technology, medicine and public health, and international affairs to research and develop innovative, data-driven approaches to contemporary policy challenges and effective government.
The school will be co-located at 555 Pennsylvania Avenue with our School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), allowing the two schools to pursue complementary and collaborative efforts that bring faculty expertise to bear on challenges in areas such as technology policy, climate, sustainability, and economics and finance, among others, where the boundaries between international and domestic policy are inherently porous. The school will also draw on the work of existing government-strengthening ventures at Johns Hopkins, such as the Bloomberg Center for Public Innovation and the Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence. It will also be part of a reciprocal connection between Baltimore and Washington that allows our Baltimore-based faculty and students to easily and effectively bring their ideas and expertise to Washington, while Washington’s policymakers and policy analysts more regularly engage with the vibrant communities of our flagship campuses in Baltimore. In this manner, we will enhance dramatically our university’s contributions to policy debate and analysis and embrace further our sense of responsibility to the nation.
We will soon launch the search for a visionary leader to serve as the inaugural dean, and we look forward to working in collaboration with the dean, university leaders, and faculty colleagues as we recruit and appoint the inaugural 35 full-time faculty members. A number of faculty in the new school will hold joint appointments in divisions across Johns Hopkins to support interdisciplinary collaboration, in keeping with the interdisciplinary ethos of the school’s home at the Hopkins Bloomberg Center. The future school will be supported by dedicated funding, including new philanthropy, incremental sponsored research, and other revenues. The school will begin public programming in late 2024 and will welcome graduate students and offer courses and other opportunities for undergraduate students by the fall of 2026.
As America’s first research university, Hopkins was founded with the aim to create knowledge for the world that fosters human flourishing and serves society. With this new school, we add another manifestation of that vision and purpose as we turn our attention even more directly to the essential role of sound government in forming the bedrock of a thriving and healthy polity.
I hope you will join us in Washington on Oct. 19 to celebrate the official dedication of the Hopkins Bloomberg Center and the beginning of the newest school in our Hopkins constellation.