Jennifer Kavanagh

Photo of Jennifer Kavanagh
Director, Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program, RAND Arroyo Center; Senior Political Scientist; Professor, Pardee RAND Graduate School
Washington Office


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

Media Resources

This researcher is available for interviews.

To arrange an interview, contact the RAND Office of Media Relations at (310) 451-6913, or email

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Jennifer Kavanagh is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation and director of the Arroyo Center's Strategy, Doctrine, and Resources Program. Her work focuses on U.S. military interventions, including factors that influence U.S. decisions to intervene and the characteristics that make interventions more or less successful, and U.S. force posture. She also studies military readiness and training, and gender in the military, particularly the integration of women into positions previously closed to them. Outside of her work for the U.S. Army, Kavanagh leads RAND's Countering Truth Decay initiative, a portfolio of projects exploring the diminishing reliance on facts and analysis in U.S. political and civil discourse. She is a faculty member at the Pardee RAND Graduate School and also teaches research methods courses as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University. Kavanagh graduated from Harvard University with a B.A. in government and a minor in Russian language. She earned her Ph.D. in political science and public policy at the University of Michigan.

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

Recent Media Appearances

Interviews: C-SPAN; Connecticut Public Radio; Newsy; WhoWhatWhy; Zócalo Public Square

Commentary: CNN; E!Sharp; Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; United Press International; USA Today


  • Senior political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh discusses Truth Decay at RAND's headquarters in Santa Monica, California, May 24, 2018, photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

    Searching for Truth: Q&A with Jennifer Kavanagh

    Senior political scientist Jennifer Kavanagh helps lead RAND's work on Truth Decay, the diminishing role of facts and analysis in American public life. In this interview, she discusses her latest research on how news presentation has changed over time and across platforms.

    Jun 26, 2019

  • Top view of a young man with a stack of overdue bills

    What Keeps Millennials Awake at Night Could Change Over Time

    Millennials are less worried than baby boomers about national security topics and more worried about kitchen table issues, such as making ends meet each month and paying off debts. But this may have less to do with the fact that they are millennials and more to do with the fact that millennials are young.

    Jul 30, 2018 United Press International

  • Oakland Athletics second baseman Jed Lowrie hits a home run during the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, July 7, 2018

    Truth Decay, America's Latest Pastime

    Detailed data and complex analysis are the foundation of decisionmaking in baseball and many other professions and occupations. But facts are out of favor in current U.S. political and civil discourse, and the public policymaking that accompanies it.

    Jul 12, 2018 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Word truth written with wooden letters on rustic surface

    In Reckoning with Today's Truth Wars, Look to America's Past

    The declining regard for factual evidence may be a defining characteristic of our current age. Previous eras suggest it is within society's power to restore respect for objective facts. Humankind just needs to put it on the agenda.

    Jun 19, 2018 CNN

  • Person reading news on a phone and a tablet

    People—Not the Tech Companies—Will Ultimately Stop Disinformation in Europe

    Authorities can continue to seek to punish the tech companies for the circulation of false articles. But this is unlikely to make a difference until more people take the time and acquire the skills to distinguish between fact and fiction.

    Apr 9, 2018 E!Sharp

  • Torn American flag waving in the wind on a cloudy day

    The Diminishing Role of Facts in American Public Life

    Without agreement about objective facts and a common understanding of and respect for data and analytical interpretations of those data, it becomes nearly impossible to have the types of meaningful policy debates that form the foundation of democracy.

    Jan 17, 2018 USA Today

  • The word truth in fading black paint

    How RAND Is Responding to Truth Decay: Q&A with Michael Rich and Jennifer Kavanagh

    RAND's Michael Rich and Jennifer Kavanagh explain what "Truth Decay" is and discuss how ongoing RAND research could help counter it.

    May 5, 2017