Jennifer Kavanagh

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Associate Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center; Political Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Santa Monica Office


Ph.D. in political science, University of Michigan; M.A. in political science, University of Michigan; B.A. in government, Harvard University

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Jennifer Kavanagh is a political scientist at the RAND Corporation and associate director of the Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program in the RAND Arroyo Center. Her research focuses on U.S. political institutions and public opinion and their implications for U.S. foreign and domestic policy. She also studies defense strategy and planning, military force posture, and U.S. military interventions. Her recent book, co-authored with RAND’s CEO Michael Rich, defines “Truth Decay” as the diminishing reliance on facts and data in U.S. political and civil discourse and describes its causes and consequences. Kavanagh is also a faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and has taught research methods courses as an adjunct professor at Georgetown and American University. While completing her Ph.D., she was a Department of Homeland Security fellow and completed a research internship at Lawrence Livermore National Lab.

Kavanagh graduated from Harvard University with a BA in government and a minor in the Russian language. She completed her Ph.D. in political science and public policy at University of Michigan. Her dissertation, "The Dynamics of Protracted Terror Campaigns: Domestic Politics, Terrorist Violence, Counterterror Responses" was named the best dissertation in the public policy subfield in 2010 by the American Political Science Association.

Selected Publications

Jennifer Kavanagh and Michael D. Rich, An Initial Exploration of the Diminishing Role of Facts and Analysis in American Public Life, RAND Corporation (RR-2314-RC), 2018

Honors & Awards

  • Department of Homeland Security Fellowship, Department of Homeland Security, Science and Technology
  • Best Dissertation in Public Policy Subfield, 2010, American Political Science Association