Ash Features


Three HKS centers ranked among world's best university-affiliated research centers

February 3, 2017

by Doug Gavel

Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Center for International Development (CID) are ranked atop the best university-affiliated research centers in the world.

The rankings appear in the latest edition of the Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, produced annually for the past decade by James McGann, director of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Institute. The goal of the Index, he said, “is to increase the profile and performance of think tanks and raise the public awareness of the important role think tanks play in governments and civil societies around the globe.”

T4D community activists in Uganda

Change from the Bottom Up: Examining the Potential for Citizen-led Action to Improve Health Outcomes

December 9, 2016

A subsistence farmer in Indonesia. A disabled US veteran. An orphaned child living in a Mumbai slum. A woman giving birth in a remote part of Malawi. Each may rely on government services or outside aid agencies to provide basic services like health care or education. But too often these services are inadequate and unresponsive to their needs. Among the many reasons are corruption, inefficiency, and simple lack of dedication and effort — the kinds of problems that too often prove difficult for governments and donors to solve.

Peter Quilter

Trump and the Future of Democracy in Latin America

December 6, 2016

In the wake of Donald Trump’s election as President of the United States, the Ash Center sat down with senior non-residential fellow Peter Quilter to discuss what Trump’s ascension to the White House means for U.S. relations in Latin America and the future of democracy in the region.

How has the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States been received throughout Latin America?

Leah Wright Rigeur

Race and Justice in the Age of Obama

December 2, 2016

In October, as part of its Race and American Politics seminar series, the Ash Center collaborated with HKS Assistant Professor of Public Policy Leah Wright Rigueur, an Ash Center faculty affiliate, to organize a Conference on Race and Justice in the Age of Obama. Attended by over 300 people over the course of two days, the event offered a unique and important opportunity for scholars, journalists, and public officials to debate President Obama's impact on race relations in the United States during his eight years in office.  


Technology and Democracy Fellowship Program Enters Its Second Year

December 1, 2016

This fall, the Ash Center welcomed its second cohort of Technology and Democracy Fellows, comprised of technologists committed to improving the health of American democracy. This year’s fellows are especially passionate about building the capacity and new tools needed by civic activists, community organizers, local government officials, and journalists who are so critical to making democracy work. 

Suparna Gupta

Ash Center Alum Suparna Gupta “Activating” for Social Change in India

November 30, 2016

“Almost half of the girls in India are married before they're even 18 years old,” says Suparna Gupta MC/MPA 2013, founder and director of the Indian nonprofit Aangan, which is dedicated to protecting vulnerable children. “I think we have the highest number of child laborers in India — 5.8 million child laborers, with 2.4 million adolescents in hazardous work. There is also an alarming figure of one child going missing every eight minutes — a statistic that is deeply linked to child trafficking.” 

Civic Analytics Network holds inaugural convening

October 28, 2016

The Civic Analytics Network (CAN) held its inaugural convening in Cambridge October 26-28. CAN is an affiliation of municipal data officers from the largest cities in the country including New York City, Los Angeles, and Boston. The network, directed by Professor Stephen Goldsmith, seeks to advance the use of data and analytics in municipal governance. CAN members work on data systems that provide critical services for millions of people such as emergency response, police violence reduction, and population health.

Dara Kay Cohen

Q&A with Dara Kay Cohen

September 21, 2016

Dara Kay Cohen is an assistant professor of public policy and faculty affiliate of the Ash Center. Her recent book, Rape During Civil War, examines the variation in the use of rape during recent civil conflicts; the research for the book draws on extensive fieldwork in Sierra Leone, Timor-Leste and El Salvador.

Q: Can you describe some of the common misconceptions about rape during civil war? Is it accurate to call rape a “weapon of war”?

Scott Mainwaring on Dilma Rouseff, Impeachment, and the Future of Democratic Governance in Brazil

Scott Mainwaring on Dilma Rouseff, Impeachment, and the Future of Democratic Governance in Brazil

September 1, 2016

Following the Brazilian Senate's overwhelming vote to remove Dilma Rouseff from office, the Ash Center sat down with Scott Mainwaring, the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor for Brazil Studies at the Harvard Kennedy School for a conversation on her impeachment, the future of the Left in Brazil, and how the country may move forward politically.

What does her conviction portend for the future of democracy in Brazil?  

Lower Mekong Policy Forum on Environment, Agriculture, and Livelihoods

August 12, 2016


The Lower Mekong Policy Forum on Environment, Agriculture, and Livelihoods was held in Siem Reap, Cambodia, on August 11–12, 2016. Senior government officials, researchers, practitioners, civil society representatives, and members of the business community participated in the forum. The forum featured international and regional experts who are leading efforts to encourage public policy analysis and dialogue on emerging challenges and opportunities related to the Lower Mekong Basin’s environment, agriculture, and rural livelihoods.

Tiana Epps-Johnson

The Technology of Elections: Q&A with Tiana Epps-Johnson

June 16, 2016

Tiana Epps-Johnson is a Democracy and Technology Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, a leading research center at the Harvard Kennedy School.  Epps-Johnson recently launched the Election Toolkit for local officials administering elections across the United States. The Toolkit, developed in part during Epps-Johnson's tenure as a fellow at the Ash Center and with the financial support of the John S. and James L.

Journalism in the Age of Data: Q&A with Dhrumil Mehta

Journalism in the Age of Data: Q&A with Dhrumil Mehta

June 15, 2016

Ash Center Technology and Democracy Fellow Dhrumil Mehta discusses his role as a database journalist at the data-driven news site FiveThirtyEight. Dhrumil uses uses an impressive digital toolkit to turn the plethora of harvested public information into usable data for data-driven stories on politics. In this interview, Dhrumil speaks to the connections and tensions between data analysis and content creation, and emphasizes the importance of transparency and data availability for database journalists. Read more about the Technology and Democracy Fellowship.

Digitizing Congress: Q&A with Kirsten Gullickson

Digitizing Congress: Q&A with Kirsten Gullickson

June 8, 2016

Kirsten Gullickson, Special Guest to the Ash Center Technology and Democracy Fellowship, discusses how specific file formats of legislative documents and online repositories can make Congress more transparent and accountable to the public with Francesca Schembri. As a senior systems analyst for the Office of the Clerk in the U.S. House of Representatives, Kirsten spearheads the effort to convert the paper and parchment of legislative documents and federal law into digital formats including text, XML, and PDF. Read more about the Technology and Democracy Fellowship.

Interagency Coordination and Unified Command During a Domestic Emergency

Interagency Coordination and Unified Command During a Domestic Emergency

May 27, 2016

By: Maisie O'Brien, Communications Coordinator

From its role in responding to natural disasters, to protecting lives and property in the face of civil unrest, to preparing for cyber-attacks, the National Guard stands at the forefront of domestic crisis management.  In these chaotic situations, how do National Guard forces – along with political leaders, law enforcement, and other public safety and emergency management entities– establish a clear chain of command and coordinate their response?

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