Ash Features

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?

Democracy Fellowship Program: Shaping a New Field of Scholars

Democracy Fellowship Program: Shaping a New Field of Scholars

April 5, 2016

By Tim Glynn-Burke, Associate Director of Democratic Governance and Student Programs

In 2008, the Ash Center reenvisioned its Democratic Governance Program as an active research community that would fill a void in current scholarship in democratic governance by fostering research that is not only normatively and empirically sophisticated but also problem-driven and actionable.

Democracy in the Digital Age

Democracy in the Digital Age

April 1, 2016

HKS Broadens Opportunities for Students to Engage in Civic Technology

By Francesca Schembri, Ash Center Communications 

After the rest of the building had largely emptied out and gone dark for the day, the second floor of 124 Mount Auburn Street was buzzing with activity early this spring. Teams of students were scattered around the offices of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation bouncing ideas back and forth. Some groups were huddled around laptops researching the latest in drone technology, while others used colored markers to sketch out a new interface for a city services app.

New Ash Center Workshop Connects Students to the Civic Tech Scene

New Ash Center Workshop Connects Students to the Civic Tech Scene

March 28, 2016

By: Francesca Schembri, Communications Intern

“Living one’s civic life on the Internet is rapidly becoming as normal and natural as using technology in one’s personal and work lives,” said Seamus Kraft, cofounder of the OpenGov Foundation and one of the recipients of the Ash Center’s inaugural Technology and Democracy Fellowships, leading a workshop at the Center on March 8. Entitled “Learn to be Your Own Lobbyist (And Love it!),” the event was part of the Technology and Democracy Workshop Series.

Will Renewables Renew Democracy?

Will Renewables Renew Democracy?

March 16, 2016

“We need you. We need each of you. So that the agreement of Paris which has been a success could become a concrete step forward for the good of human kind."  —Gerard Araud, French Ambassador to the United States

By: Micaela Connery, Ash Center Communications Intern 

On February 10, 2016, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at the Harvard Kennedy School sponsored a panel, Will Renewables Renew Democracy?

Ash Brings Focus on Participatory Budgeting to Policymakers in Washington

Ash Brings Focus on Participatory Budgeting to Policymakers in Washington

March 8, 2016


The Ash Center, in partnership with the Democracy Fund and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, hosted a two-day convening on participatory budgeting in February in the nation’s capital. In attendance were nearly 75 elected officials and other municipal officials, academics, technologists, community members, and representatives from the federal government all with an interest in expanding and strengthening participatory budgeting programs across the US.

Preparing for the Next Disaster: HKS Hosts Conference on Disaster Recovery

Preparing for the Next Disaster: HKS Hosts Conference on Disaster Recovery

March 3, 2016

By: Maisie O'Brien, Communications Coordinator

On January 22, 2016, academics and practitioners from across the world traveled to Harvard University for a conference on disaster recovery.  Entitled “Accelerating Disaster Recovery: Strategies, Tensions, and Obstacles,” the event provided a singular opportunity for participants to discuss the complex challenges underlying recovery efforts and to explore ways to more effectively rebound from future disasters. 

China Gives: The Ash Center Surveys China’s Philanthropic Landscape

China Gives: The Ash Center Surveys China’s Philanthropic Landscape

March 2, 2016

By Dan Harsha, Associate Director for Communications

Over a century ago, the Gilded Age tycoons of America realized that getting rich was the easy part. Giving away their fortunes would require an altogether new vision of how they wished to leave their imprint on society — all done without the guiding hands of professional philanthropic advisors or longstanding charitable foundations.

Connecting the Dots on Sustainability

Connecting the Dots on Sustainability

February 9, 2016

Jayant Kairam MPP 2010 is working across sectors to combat climate change and strengthen communities

By: Maisie O'Brien, Communications Coordinator

“Climate change is the fight of our time,” says Jayant Kairam MPP 2010 from his office at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) in Austin, Texas. “Every day we see the increased threats that climate change poses to coastlines, agriculture, water, public health, and political and economic stability, and we must act now to reduce carbon pollution.”

Student Research Explores Tax Data & Confidentiality

Student Research Explores Tax Data & Confidentiality

January 8, 2016

By: Francesca Schembri, Communications Intern

Some of the most important socioeconomic truisms about a country can be revealed by examining the way its citizens pay their taxes according to MPP ’15 Yunjung Song and Harvard Law School J.D. ’15 Hyeongsu Park. For their Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), the capstone project for Harvard Kennedy School MPP candidates, Song and Park delved into the complex issue of taxpayer data availability in South Korea.

Q & A with Quinton Mayne

Q & A with Quinton Mayne

January 5, 2016

Interview by Dan Harsha, Associate Director for Communications

Quinton Mayne is an assistant professor of public policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS).  His research and teaching interests focus on the design and reform of democratic political institutions, and their affect on how citizens think and act politically. Mayne recently spoke with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation about his work studying citizen satisfaction and democratic performance.

Baoshang Delegation Visits Ash Center

Baoshang Delegation Visits Ash Center

December 7, 2015

A delegation headed by the Chairman of the Baoshang Bank visited the Ash Center on December 4, 2015. Baoshang Bank Limited is a joint-equity commercial bank based in Baotou in China's Inner-Mongolia province, and a major provider of microfinance services. The delegation included Li Zhenxi, Chairman, Baoshang Bank; Fan Zhihua, General Manager, Baoshang Bank, Beijing Branch; and Li Siyu, Business Development Associate, CP Global Capital.  Chairman Li is a senior visitor with the Ash Center and he has been the chairman of the board at the Baoshang Bank since 2008. He received his D.B.A.

Understanding Indonesia: Revealing the Mysteries of Asia’s Inscrutable Giant

Understanding Indonesia: Revealing the Mysteries of Asia’s Inscrutable Giant

November 24, 2015

By: Francesca Schembri, Communications Intern

The Harvard Kennedy School Indonesia Program and the Harvard University Asia Center, with support from The Australian National University’s Indonesia Project, hosted their first national conference on Indonesia on November 21st, 2015 at the Harvard Kennedy School.

John Kerry Discusses Fulbright University Vietnam

Fulbright University Vietnam

October 29, 2015

On the outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, in the Saigon High-Tech Park, a massive experiment in higher education is about to take shape. Ground will soon be broken for the campus of Fulbright University Vietnam, an ambitious undertaking to build the country’s first independent, not-for-profit university.

Ash Fellow Georgia Hollister Isman is Rebuilding Public Engagement with the Democratic Process

Ash Fellow Georgia Hollister Isman is Rebuilding Public Engagement with the Democratic Process

October 21, 2015

For Georgia Hollister Isman (MPA/MC ‘15), strengthening public participation in the political process has been a lifelong passion. The recipient of the Roy and Lila Ash Fellowship for the 2014–15 academic year, Hollister Isman came to the Harvard Kennedy School with a decade of experience in electoral politics and state and local advocacy. “From the time I was a little kid, I always wanted to figure out a way to make the world a better place,” she recalled.