Ash Features

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?

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.