This post was originally published on the Government Innovators Network Blog. The Government Innovators Network is a marketplace of ideas and examples of government innovation for policymakers, policy advisors, practitioners, and researchers. The blog highlights successful innovations, features lessons learned from prominent academics, innovators and innovation experts, and public policy students from across the globe, and translates current research on innovation in the public sector and the future of innovation. Read more here.
The Roy and Lila Ash Innovations Award in Public Engagement in Government was a key component of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. PBNYC was selected from among 100 submissions from government-led innovations that demonstrate enhanced public engagement and participation in the governance of towns, cities, states, and the nation.
This post explores themes of global citizenship and Green politics. HKS Adjunct Professor of Public Policy Muriel Rouyer collected personal narratives from students in her course, “Green Politics and Public Policy in a Global Age,” which reflect the challenges of navigating personal, moral and political values in the increasingly global collective action problem of Green citizenship. These vignettes show a different kind of Challenge to Democracy, one which transcends national borders and defies unilateral action.
This post continues our ongoing coverage of Boston’s first in the nation youth participatory budgeting initiative, which is soon starting up its second round. Read more about Boston’s Youth Lead the Change initiative here.
By Tara Grillos
In No Citizen Left Behind, Meira Levinson asserts “that there is a profound civic achievement gap between non-white, poor, and/or immigrant youth, on the one hand, and white, wealthier, and/or native-born youth, on the other.” She goes on to provide some guidelines for effective civic education to close this gap, emphasizing the importance of civic knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviors. Continue reading
Last fall, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation hosted a discussion exploring the (then) recent federal government shutdown and the ever-souring relationship between the President and Congress. The talk, part of the Ash Center’s Challenges to Democracy series, featured two renowned Harvard Kennedy School professors Thomas Patterson and David King. Patterson’s research explores the interaction between government and the media. King is a senior lecturer in Public Policy and chair of Harvard’s Bi-Partisan Program for Newly Elected Members of the U.S. Congress. Continue reading
This post from Ash Center research fellow Lhakpa Bhuti explores the origins and impact of the government’s Gross National Happiness (GNH) policy on social, political and economic development in her home country of Bhutan. Well-being and happiness as legitimate and useful measures of government performance have been gaining traction in cities across the US, from Seattle, Washington to Somerville, Massachusetts. With a focus on the natural environment, Bhutan’s GNH policy and its GNH accounting might also offer novel solutions for addressing global warming. Bhuti suggests that these and other efforts to improve governance and even increase public engagement might learn lessons from Bhutan’s long-running GNH approach to improving both its political systems and actual policy outcomes.
This post by Seth Flaxman was originally published by The Democracy Fund. Flaxman is Co-Founder and Executive Director of Democracy Works, a nonprofit dedicated to the idea that voting should fit the way we live. Flaxman launched Democracy Works’ first major project, TurboVote, with fellow Harvard Kennedy School alumni Kathryn Peters in 2010. This spring, Flaxman participated in our #Tech4Democracy panel discussion with Harvard students and alumni who are launching promising tech start-ups that find creative ways to strengthen democracy.
On April 22, 2014, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Archon Fung moderated a discussion between Joan Blades, co-founder of MoveOn.org, and Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. The event was sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation in collaboration with the John F. Kennedy, Jr. Forum. The conversation between Blades and Meckler, two groundbreaking and imaginative innovators who happen to fall on opposite ends of the political spectrum, was an extension of LivingRoomConversations.org, an effort started by Blades to promote respectful, open, and meaningful political conversations among people and across ideological divisions. The following blog post recounts the evening’s highlights. You can watch the entire conversation by clicking on the YouTube link below. Continue reading
Asked to diagnose the health of American democracy, Raisa Carrasco Velez highlights the connection between inequality, education, opportunity and engagement in under-represented communities. Continue reading
This post by Hollie Russon Gilman was originally published by Next City. We have been following the City of Boston’s first-in-the-nation youth participatory budgeting initiative all year. Read earlier posts from Russon Gilman and others here. Continue reading
Ash Center faculty members Tony Saich, Tarek Masoud, and Archon Fung recently discussed the rise of social media and its impact on government and social movements with students, alumni, and supporters of Harvard Kennedy School. This post was originally published on the Harvard Kennedy School website.
By Maisie O’Brien
From tweeting a positive comment about a presidential candidate to liking the Facebook page of a local nonprofit, citizens are constantly using social media in civic-minded ways. But can this new form of communication substantively improve government or transform it entirely? Continue reading
This spring, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation co-hosted a town hall discussion on integrating immigrant communities in Lawrence, Massachusetts as part of its Challenges to Democracy Series. The series is exploring the challenges posed by immigration and how communities are working to find solutions to such. Part of this broader discussion about immigration and democracy comes from the perspective of social scientists, while some of it comes from having conversations similar to the Lawrence meeting to learn about the challenges and opportunities posed by changing populations.
Below is an account of the key themes and ideas from the discussion, which was moderated by WBUR journalist Asma Khalid and featured four Lawrence residents active on the issue. Long-time advocate for Lawrence and community development Bill Traynor and Lawrence Mayor Daniel Rivera welcomed the audience of almost 200 people, with Professor Archon Fung providing concluding remarks. Continue reading
In response to a recent Knight News Challenge titled How can we strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation?, Bradley Holt profiles a new effort in Burlington, VT funded by the Knight Foundation that leverages the city’s fiber-optic gigabit network to build a new virtual public space for “innovative community organizers, nonprofits and civic hackers.” Continue reading
By Richa Mishra
Justice Louis Brandeis once stated, “We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” More recently, humorist Fran Lebowitz noted, “In the Soviet Union, capitalism triumphed over communism. In this country, capitalism triumphed over democracy.” A new study shows that both, perhaps, were right: the wealthiest Americans “generally get their way” on issues that the average citizen disagrees with, from tax reform and corporate regulation to abortion. Continue reading
On October 6, 2013, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation collaborated with the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) on a performance of Robert Schenkkan’s political drama All the Way. The play focuses on Lyndon B. Johnson’s first year as President with a particular eye to the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Bryan Cranston, fresh off of his Breaking Bad success, starred as Johnson. Following the performance, A.R.T. Artistic Director Ryan McKittrick moderated a discussion with actor Michael McKean, who played J. Edgar Hoover in the production, and Alex Keyssar, Stirling Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard Kennedy School. The following post highlights elements of the conversation. Continue reading
On February 26, 2014, the Ash Center hosted a screening of the new film The Unknown Known, followed by a spirited conversation with the filmmaker Errol Morris as part of its Challenges to Democracy public dialogue series. After the screening, Morris took questions from an engaged audience in a large classroom on the Harvard Kennedy School campus. Moderated by Archon Fung, the conversation shifted between the making of Morris’ film, his impressions of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld (the subject of the film), and dimensions of executive power. Below are three excerpts from the discussion. Continue reading
Our friends at the National Coalition for Dialogue & Deliberation (NCDD) pointed us to a new article in the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) magazine Public Management. Authors Robert Vogel of Peak Democracy, Evelina Moulder of ICMA, and Mike Huggins of Civic Praxis paint a picture of local government public participation efforts, including their nature, purpose, scope, outcomes, and more. Their data come from the ICMA 2012 State of the Profession Survey. Continue reading
Emma Roller reports for National Journal on two surveys that reflect a shift toward the middle and a waning trust in government among Millennials.
Millennials have long been the carbuncle on the GOP’s backside, but these studies suggest some ways that Republicans can make inroads with younger voters. Twentysomethings today are less ideologically “pure” than older voters, and therefore more likely to be swayed to one side or another. Continue reading
This post comes to us from the birthplace of democracy. Authors Antonis Schwarz and Harvard Kennedy School alum Panagiotis Vlachos, MPA ’13, paint a dark picture of the political landscape in Greece, from distrust to fury. Yet out of this unrest and pessimism they describe launching VouliWatch, a new online platform encouraging dialogue between Greek citizens and their elected representatives. VouliWatch, whose beta version launched this week, is the latest iteration of ParliamentWatch, a German innovation that has spread to six other European countries. 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