This post by Crosby Burns recounts the first session of a new Cities, Technology and Democracy Study Group at Harvard Kennedy School hosted by student groups Tech4Change and Regional, State, Local and Tribal Professional Interest Council, along with the Ash Center. The session featured HKS Professor Archon Fung and Chris Osgood and Shari Davis from the City of Boston. The subject was Boston’s first-in-the-nation youth participatory budgeting initiative, with a focus on the practical challenges of implementation from political leadership to performance indicators. Continue reading
This post highlights a recent report from the American Political Science Association, Negotiating Agreement in Politics: Report of the Task Force on Negotiating Agreement in Politics, edited by Jane Mansbridge and Cathie Jo Martin. Mansbridge is recent president of APSA and an affiliated faculty member of the Ash Center. The post is part of an occasional series exploring the frontiers of research on democratic governance. The series highlights the work of the Ash Center’s faculty and Democracy Fellows whose research illuminates aspects of democratic governance, with a focus on innovations in public participation and on urgent substantive policy or social problems related to democratic governance. Continue reading
Check out this in-depth essay from The Economist on democracy across the globe. “Democracy was the most successful political idea of the 20th century,” they write. “Why has it run into trouble, and what can be done to revive it?” Below are a few excerpts. Continue reading
On February 26, the Ash Center is hosting a screening of Errol Morris’ new film “The Unknown Known” and a discussion with the filmmaker, as part of its Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. One of the themes in the film, and in our series, is executive power.
Much has been written about the real threats posed by expanding presidential power, but in a recent commentary on Huffington Post, Yale University’s Bruce Ackerman suggests real solutions, which are more difficult to find. Continue reading
Oscar-winning filmmaker Errol Morris to speak at Harvard Kennedy School on February 26, 2014 after a screening of his new documentary film The Unknown Known.
One of the challenges in the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series is the expansion of presidential power and the potential threats it poses to our democracy’s compact between the chief executive, Congress, the courts, and the people. Continue reading
By Hollie Russon Gilman, PhD
There is a general sense that young people don’t want to engage in politics. And yet, we are seeing young people increasingly using new technologies to express their civic identities. Maybe young people are engaging politically in new ways? From crowdfunding for good or using social media to convey political preferences, perhaps young people can help us imagine and innovate new relationships with traditional governance institutions.
Boston’s Participatory Budgeting (PB) is an interesting example in envisioning just what is possible. Continue reading
Immigration policy and paths to citizenship are hotly contested topics on the national stage, yet immigration is most often experienced locally. As shown by the recent news reports below, cities like Hartford, CT and towns like Oakley, CA are on the front lines of some of the most important questions and tensions related to immigration.
How, for example, does the integration of local immigrant communities challenge our notions of justice and equality? How far should we extend civil and political rights, for example, to immigrants with or without authorization; and what responsibilities should we expect in return? Continue reading
Transparency International recently released its 2013 Corruption Perceptions Index. Each year the Index measures the perceived levels of public sector corruption in 177 countries and territories. This year’s report confirms that corruption remains a global threat. Continue reading
In this post, Ash Center Research Fellow Richa Mishra reviews a set of recent articles and reports on democratic movements, public opinion and democracy promotion efforts. Mishra, who has extensive experience in promoting democratic institutions in transitional political systems, highlights the importance of contextual nuance in understanding democratic twists and turns. Continue reading
Much has been said about the key role social media has played in the Arab Spring and other people led protests around the world. Two recent pieces from Olga Onuch of The Washington Post and Alex Hanna and Kevin Harris of Foreign Policy take another look at whether or not social media is instrumental in igniting and sustaining popular public protests in Ukraine and as an accurate predictor of electoral outcomes in the Middle East. Continue reading
Grant Tudor reports for Forbes on how relatively simple and user friendly technologies are empowering remote and marginalized communities to monitor, report and demand accountability for environmental and human rights abuses and making ”evidence—and marginalized voices—harder to ignore.” Continue reading
Below is a recap of the America’s Datafest hackathon hosted by Harvard Kennedy School students on November 2, 2013. Hackathons are an increasingly popular mechanism for cities to engage local computer programmers and tech entrepreneurs in designing new apps or other innovations that serve a public purpose. Alison Flint, a Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) student and co-chair of the HKS Tech4Change student group, explores both the promise and practical challenges of hackathons. Part of the Challenges to Democracy series, Datafest combined two of the challenges we will focus on: immigration and technology. Continue reading
The National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD) has to be one of the nation’s best resources for practitioners in the field of increasing participation and engagement, as well as citizens interested in deepening democracy in their own community. NCDD provides tools, ideas, potential collaborators, events, and more across a broad spectrum of issue areas. Continue reading
Haeyoun Park, Jeremy Ashkenas, and Mike Bostock created a powerful infographic on the presence of one party rule in many US states for The New York Times.
Republicans or Democrats have single-party control of both the legislature and the governor’s office in 36 states, the most in six decades. Lawmakers in these states have been seeking to reshape government policy in recent years, from legalizing same-sex marriage to restricting labor unions. Continue reading
Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of Martin Gilens’ 2012 book, Affluence and Influence: Economic Inequality and Political Power in America. One of the most exciting political scientists in the country, Gilens spoke at the Challenges to Democracy launch event, an October 3 panel discussion moderated by WBUR and NPR’s On Point host Tom Ashbrook on the threat economic inequality poses to the health of American democracy. This post is part of an occasional series highlighting the first chapters of recent books by speakers and participants in the Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. Continue reading
Toward the end of 2013, the White House published a second U.S. Open Government National Action Plan. This plan is part of the U.S. commitments to the multi stakeholder Open Government Partnership (OGP) under which 62 countries have pledged for more participatory, transparent, and collaborative governance.
The U.S. released plan includes 23 new or expanded open-government commitments that build on the first “Open Government” plan. The Ash Center’s Hollie Russon Gilman was instrumental in putting the plan together. Continue reading
Albert W. Dzur interviews Lauren Abramson of Baltimore’s Community Conferencing Center for a series called Trench Democracy: Participatory Innovation in Unlikely Places in Boston Review. They discussed an innovative democratic practice in Southeast Baltimore to help communities resolve local conflicts on their own.
The conference began with angry comments. Parents defended their children against what they felt was unfair treatment by neighbors. In turn, the adult residents expressed their frustration over the late night noise created by the football games: was this really the best place to play football at night? Continue reading
This column profiles six new entries from 2013 in Participedia, an open global knowledge community for researchers and practitioners in the field of democratic innovation and public engagement. Visit Participedia to join the conversation and explore nearly 400 experiments in new forms of participatory politics and governance.
By Michael MacKenzie, Tim Glynn-Burke and Archon Fung
It has been another great year for Participedia. We hope to become a key resource for scholars, activists, policy makers and citizens who are interested in new democratic practices and institutions. Our team has made big strides towards reaching that goal. This year, 445 new members joined the website and 152 new cases were added to our collection. Continue reading
The Washington Post editorial board weighed in on a Council of the District of Columbia measure to extend voting rights to D.C. residents who are not U.S. citizens. The Post later published a response to their opposition to the bill from a representative from FairVote’s Promote Our Vote initiative.
From the Post:
Under a law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996, it is a crime for noncitizens to vote in a federal election. Similarly, no state permits voting by green-card holders, as legal permanent residents are known. There is no logic to justify at the local level what is expressly forbidden at the state and federal levels. Continue reading
Millions of Americans suffer from mental health problems, but stigma prevents many from seeking care. To raise awareness and perhaps help remove some of that stigma, the Obama Administration has launched a national effort to engage citizens in a dialogue about mental health.
Local organizers of community forums across the country are setting additional goals like changing care practices. Albuquerque Mayor Richard J. Berry co-hosted a forum this summer, about which he said “Today’s dialogue is just the beginning. We have continued conversations planned to ensure the ideas and priorities discussed today are carried out throughout the Greater Albuquerque community.” Continue reading