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Effective policymaking shaped by the public 

Established in 2018 with a transformative $10 million gift from the Crown Family, the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy is driven by the belief that the public plays a critical role in determining the direction of US foreign policy and that an informed and engaged public is critical for effective policymaking.

Public Opinion and US Foreign Policy

The centerpiece of the Lester Crown Center is its annual survey of American public opinion and US foreign policy. Public opinion polls provide citizens with a mechanism for sharing their views with politicians and decision makers, and we believe US foreign policy is more effective and more sustainable when policymakers and policy debates are informed by the views of the public.

Since first conducted in 1974, the Chicago Council Survey provides the most comprehensive view of American public opinion on critical foreign policy issues, highlighting critical trends and shifts in thinking over time. The Council's polling experts, their annual report, and related topical briefs compose the Council’s most recognized area of research. Each year, Chicago Council Survey findings are cited by policymakers, academics, and the media. As the effectiveness of US foreign policy is increasingly shaped by responses of other countries, we also work with international partners to explore how US foreign policy is viewed by publics around the world.

Public Programming and Engagement

The Lester Crown Center on US Foreign policy is committed to providing the public inclusive access to information and diverse perspectives and views on US foreign policy. We bring together national policy experts and top thinkers to present and discuss their analysis and proposals with the interested public and civic leaders in public and private events.

Through our premier annual public event, the Lester Crown Distinguished Lecture on US Foreign Policy, the Center brings a major foreign policy figure to the Council’s platform to drive greater visibility and energize public discussion on a critical policy issue. The Center also explores how world events and developing trends affect US foreign policy through digital content such as the Deep Dish podcast and weekly video series World Review.

Research and policy recommendations

The Lester Crown Center also convenes task forces and produces research to offer analysis and policy recommendations on a range of foreign policy and national security issues from US policy responses to Russian aggression in Ukraine to US strategy and policy in response to a rising China. The Centers work in this area is supported by in-house fellows and analysts and a network of nonresident fellows.