This post, written by PhD student Amelia Peterson, recaps the second meeting of a new UK discussion group among British students and anglophiles from across Harvard University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The group is convening in spring 2016 on a weekly basis to discuss the most difficult and pressing issues facing the UK today–bridging disciplines to present viable policy solutions. The discussion highlighted below explored educational disparities in the UK—their relationship to economic inequality, the future value of education as a public good, and the changing role both of technology and of teachers. The Ash Center is delighted to support student initiatives like the UK discussion group as well as other opportunities to contribute to public discourse on both the challenges to democratic governance and promising solutions. Read other posts in the UK discussion group series. Continue reading
The Ash Center has established a Technology and Democracy Fellowship program as part of the Center’s initiative to explore technology’s role in improving democratic governance—with a focus on connecting to practice and on helping Harvard Kennedy School students develop crucial technology skills. This post provides an overview of the fellowship, introduces the inaugural cohort of fellows, and describes the technology skills workshops that the fellows are leading. Each workshop aims to help HKS students develop their “technological intelligence” and learn skills related to understanding, managing, or creating digital technologies with the potential to improve the quality of democratic governance. Read more here.
This post was originally published by Harvard Kennedy School. Katie Gibson profiles the work of Archon Fung, Linda Bilmes, Hollie Russon Gilman, and other Harvard Kennedy School faculty, fellows, students, and alumni who are involved in studying, teaching, and practicing participatory budgeting. You can read more of the Challenges to Democracy blog’s coverage of participatory budgeting in Boston, Cambridge, and beyond here. Continue reading
On February 19th, 2016, almost 100 students from across Harvard University filed into the life-sized Senate Chamber at the new Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate in Boston, Massachusetts to participate in the inaugural, student-run Kennedy Senate Simulation. Spearheaded by Michael Thng (MPP ’16) and a team of Kennedy School students, the simulation placed students in positions of current Senators, both Republican and Democrat, to deliberate and vote on the Criminal Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act of 2015 and the Defend America Act.
In this post, HKS student Derek Pham (MPP ’16) reports on how this unique event engaged and challenged tomorrow’s leaders by exposing them to the real problems facing the U.S. government today. This exercise was not only a procedural lesson, but it also helped illuminate why Senate gridlock is the default, and why coalition building and consensus is so difficult. Supported by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, the Institute of Politics, and the Center for Public Leadership, the organizing team hope to make the Kennedy Senate Simulation a trademark yearly event at HKS. For pictures from the event, please visit the Kennedy Senate Simulation Facebook page here.
The following is an excerpt from “Breaking Congo’s Glass Ceiling: Gender Politics in the DRC” published in a recent edition of Foreign Affairs by HKS student Tom O’Bryan. The Ash Center is supporting O’Bryan’s work in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he is working with a group of partner nonprofits to launch the Congo Democracy Project: a series of interactive maps of the DRC, focused on elections and democratic governance in the country.
This article profiles the women leading the fight for gender equality in Congolese politics as the country approaches critical national elections later this year. From the streets to the Constitutional Court, DRC’s activists, advocates, and candidates are making important progress in the face of growing resistance.
This post, originally published by the Ash Center, profiles recent Harvard Kennedy School grad Nada Zohdy, MPP ’15. As a student Zohdy studied the mechanics of new forms of citizen participation and engagement both close to home in Cambridge, Massachusetts and in the Middle East/North Africa. Zohdy now manages the OpenGov Hub in Washington, D.C., a co-working community where she interacts daily with people from across the globe who are working on the frontiers of open government. Read more about the Ash Center’s Democracy in Hard Places initiative, which seeks to understand why democratic institutions thrive in some countries while failing in others.
In this post, Harvard Graduate School of Design student Courtney D. Sharpe continues her coverage of efforts by My Brother’s Keeper Philadelphia to engage youth in violence prevention and juvenile justice reform. Sharpe is a recent Ash Center Summer Fellow working with My Brother’s Keeper Philadelphia to help design a comprehensive public database to promote City of Philadelphia opportunities open to youth. Here, Sharpe brings attention to the collaborative nature and emphasis on leveraging data of Philadelphia’s efforts to pursue timely interventions toward reducing the justice system-involvement of young people of color. Continue reading
In this post, originally published by the Kennedy School Review, HKS student Derek Pham comments on the regional and international response to the persecution and emigration of Rohingya refugees, a Muslim minority in Myanmar. “The Myanmar Government refuses to recognize them as one of the country’s ethnic groups and instead views them as illegal migrant Bangladeshis,” Pham writes. “Bangladesh does not recognize them as well and has refused to accept the newest refugees. The Rohingya thus remain stateless.” Pham neatly ties together historical, political, and humanitarian perspectives and suggests promising solutions. To read more about Myanmar, visit the Ash Center’s Myanmar Program, which works to deepen our understanding of the development and democratic governance challenges facing Myanmar.
This post was originally published on the Harvard Kennedy School Admissions Blog. Norma Torres Mendoza, a Master in Public Policy candidate concentrating in Business and Government, reflects on her work this summer in the City of Houston as an Ash Center Summer Fellow in Innovation as well as a Harvard University Presidential Fellow for Public Service. Continue reading