Arnold M. Howitt, PhD

Senior Advisor, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation; Faculty Co-Director, Program on Crisis Leadership; and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School

Arnold M. Howitt is executive director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. He is also faculty co-director of the Program on Crisis Leadership, which conducts research, executive education programs, and action projects.

Howitt has written extensively about emergency preparedness and crisis management issues. He has recently researched onsite Nepal's emergency responses to the 2015 earthquakes, lessons from the emergency response to the 2015 Paris terrorist attacks and the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, Japan's response to and recovery from the 2011 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear accident, and China's emergency air pollution control measures. He also develops case studies on crisis management and disaster recovery issues in the US and several other countries.

In related activities, he has worked with the City of Los Angeles on disaster recovery planning (2010-11), served as an adviser and trainer-of-trainers for China's National Institute of Emergency Management (2010-11), and was one of the organizers of a lessons learned roundtable at Harvard (2011) for leaders of organizations that responded to Haiti's 2010 earthquake. He also was a member of a study panel of the National Academies of Science on the role of transit in disaster evacuation (2006-2008).

Among other writing, Howitt is co-author/editor of Natural Disaster Management in the Asia Pacific (Springer, 2014), Managing Crises (CQ Press, 2009) and Countering Terrorism (The MIT Press, 2003).

A Harvard faculty member and administrator since 1976, Howitt has taught at the Extension School since 1980. He received the Extension School's JoAnne Fussa Award for Distinguished Teaching in 1993. Howitt earned his BA degree from Columbia University and MA and PhD degrees in political science from Harvard University.


  • PhD Harvard University


Courses with Arnold M. Howitt

Fall term 2017

Crisis Management and Emergency Preparedness

Crises challenge organizations to respond creatively to high-stakes and novel circumstances. Today not only traditional emergency responders (police, firefighters, and emergency medical teams) must be ready for crises, but also private and nonprofit organizations, as well as a wider spectrum of public sector responders (for example, public health, transportation, and public works).

Spring term 2018

Disaster Relief and Recovery

When disasters strike—whether natural disasters, failures of critical technology systems, disease, terrorism, or civil conflict—society must respond to the needs of individuals, families, and communities whose lives have been severely disrupted.