The Chicago Council on Global Affairs' Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy is a leading organization committed to influence the discourse on critical US foreign policy issues through promoting public dialog and debate, producing original analysis and developing new ideas.
The Lester Crown Center on US Foreign policy is founded on 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 an effective foreign policy making. We believe that the public is best served through exposure and discussion of a diverse set of perspectives and views. The Center brings 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 programs. The premier annual public event is the Lester Crown Distinguished Lecture on US Foreign Policy, bringing a major foreign policy figure to drive greater visibility and energize greater public discussion on a critical policy issue.
The Center also convenes the Lester Crown National Security Roundtable, a series of high-level, private, off the record discussions between important national foreign policy makers and thought leaders and prominent civic leaders from the city and the region.
A centerpiece of the Lester Crown Center on US Foreign Policy is our work on public opinion and US foreign policy. Since 1974, the Council has been conducting surveys of Americans on foreign policy issues. The annual Chicago Council Survey provides the most comprehensive view of US public opinion on critical foreign policy issues and has become the single most recognized research report for the Council. The results of this work are widely reported and discussed in national and international media. We believe that US foreign policy will be more effective and more sustainable if policy makers and policy debates are informed by the views of the public. Additionally, in a democracy, public opinion polls provide citizens with a mechanism for sharing their views with politicians and decision makers.
As the effectiveness of US foreign policy is often shaped by the responses of other countries. The survey team is increasingly working with partners and produces the Council’s signature annual public opinion survey and supplemental research on timely foreign policy issues to help policy makers and the public understand the impact of our policy and possibilities for the future.
The Lester Crown Center is also home to original Council research on a range of foreign policy issues to produce analysis and policy recommendations on a range of foreign policy 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 analysts and a network of non-resident fellows.
A generous gift from the Crown family supports all of the Center's efforts and the development of digital resources to make the Council’s foreign policy content more accessible across platforms.