Challenges to Democracy

  • 2017 Feb 15

    Women and Leadership: Responses to Challenging Times


    Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Suite 200N, 124 Mt Auburn Street, Cambridge
    4:15pm to 5:30pm

    Please join us for a discussion about women and leadership, featuring:

    • Leah Wright Rigueur, “Intersectionality at the Core”
      • Assistant Professor of Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School
    • Melissa Williams, “Representing Women in Theory and Practice”
      • Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto and Senior Visiting Scholar, Ash Center
    • Jane Mansbridge, "Organizing as Women and Avoiding Common Failures”
      • Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, Harvard Kennedy School

  • 2015 May 19

    Sparking Change: Symposium on Public Sector Innovation


    Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK St., Cambridge, MA
    1:30pm to 6:00pm

    About the Symposium

    Join public officials from cities, towns, and state agencies across Massachusetts for a nuts and bolts conversation on fostering innovation in government. Participants will join the nine finalists for Harvard University's Innovations in American Government Award for an exchange of ideas and experiences on transforming how we address our toughest public problems. The small group discussions will focus on novel yet practical solutions as well as implementation: how to get good ideas started, how to tackle the bureaucratic hurdles, where and how to leverage funding and support, and more.

  • 2015 May 12

    #Hack4Congress Congressional Briefing and Demo


    2237 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington DC
    10:00am to 11:00am

    Hundreds of civic hackers, technologists, policy wonks, engaged citizens, and others have come together at three #Hack4Congress events across the country to send a simple message to Congress: it’s time to bring government into the 21st century, and we’re here to help.

  • 2015 Apr 30

    #Hack4Congress DC


    Google, 25 Massachusetts Avenue Northwest #900, Washington, DC 20001
    Sun - Mon, Apr 30 to May 1, 8:00am - 5:00pm

    #Hack4Congress DC#Hack4Congress brings together political scientists, technologists, designers, lawyers, organizational psychologists, and lawmakers to foster new digital tools, policy proposals and other innovations to address the growing dysfunction in Congress.

    In three “not-just-for-technologists” events (in Cambridge, San Francisco, and Washington DC), civic innovators are invited to spend a weekend working on “hacks” (both technical and non-technical) to improve Congress. Each event concludes with presentations and the selection of the best project.

    Winners will travel to DC in May to present their ideas to a panel of Members of Congress and civic innovators.

    The event will kick off on April 29 at 5:30pm with a panel discussion entitled “Creating a 21st Century Congress” at the Microsoft Innovation & Policy Center.

    See the Reddit AMA with the speakers here.

    Watch Senator Blumenthal's opening remarks:

    Watch the Hackathon's project pitches:

    See This Event in the Media Here:

  • 2015 Apr 21

    Getting to Yes (or No): Making Ballot Initiatives More Voter-Friendly and Deliberative


    Ash Center Foyer, 124 Mount Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA


    John Gastil, Professor and Head, Department of Communication Arts and Sciences, Penn State University
    Jon Hecht, MA State Representative (D-Watertown)
    Tyrone Reitman, Executive Director, Healthy Democracy Oregon
    Carmen Sirianni (moderator), Morris Hillquit Professor of Labor and Social Thought, Brandeis University

    About the event:

    Join academics and practitioners in a panel discussion on the Citizens’ Initiative Review, an innovative approach to direct democracy through ballot initiatives.

    More than 70% of the people in the US live in a state or city where direct democracy is available. In 2014, Americans in 42 states voted on altogether 158 ballot measures. Topics featured in these ballots included burning questions such as the minimum wage, criminal justice, guns, immigration and insurance. As an effect of citizens’ participation in these ballots, four states for example raised the minimum wages from the beginning of this year. Europe, on the other hand, awaited for the result of the Scottish independence referendum with fear and excitement in 2014. However, the complexity of current policy issues and investments of large interest organizations in referendum campaigns have raised concerns about the functioning of direct democracy.

  • 2015 Apr 01

    The Loneliness of the Black Republican: Pragmatic Politics and the Pursuit of Power


    Ash Center Foyer, 124 Mount Auburn St, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

    Loneliness of the Black Republican coverLeah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor of Public Policy
    Artur Davis, Former U.S. Representative and current Republican candidate for Mayor of Montgomery, AL
    Lisa McGirr, Respondent, Professor of History, Harvard University
    Alex Keyssar, Moderator, Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy

    Co-sponsored by the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy, the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, The Harvard Journal of African American Policy and the HKS Black Student Union.

    About the Event

    Harvard Kennedy School Assistant Professor of Public Policy Leah Wright Rigueur, Former U.S. Representative Artur Davis and Harvard University Professor of History Lisa McGirr will discuss Professor Wright Rigueur’s new book, The Loneliness of the Black Republican in an event moderated by Alex Keyssar, HKS Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy. Covering more than four decades of American social and political history, The Loneliness of the Black Republican examines the ideas and actions of black Republican activists, officials, and politicians, from the era of the New Deal to Ronald Reagan’s presidential ascent in 1980.

  • 2015 Mar 26

    How Data is Helping Us Understand Voting Rights After Shelby County


    Ash Center Foyer, 124 Mount Auburn St, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

    Maya SenMaya Sen (Moderator), Ash Center Faculty Affiliate and HKS Assistant Professor of Public Policy
    Stephen Ansolabehere, Professor of Government, Harvard University
    Nate Cohn, Politics and Policy Writer, The New York Times
    Bernard Fraga, Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Indiana University

    Co-sponsored by The Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and the Institute for Quantitative Social Science

    About the Event

    How has the 2013 Supreme Court ruling in Shelby County v. Holder, which upended a key provision of the Voting Rights Act and opened the door to states and local jurisdictions to rewrite voting laws, impacted voter registration and turnout? Our panel of academics and journalists will discuss the potential effects of Shelby County on American voting rights.

  • 2015 Mar 21

    #Hack4Congress San Francisco


    Code for America, 155 9th Street, San Francisco CA, 94103
    (All day)

    Hack4Congress adOrganized with the OpenGov Foundation and POPVOX

    #Hack4Congress is a multi-city event that brings together political scientists, technologists, designers, lawyers, organizational psychologists, and lawmakers to foster new digital tools, policy proposals and other innovations to address the growing dysfunction in Congress.

  • 2015 Mar 20

    ’Fixing Congress’ Panel Discussion and Reception


    SPUR Urban Center, 654 Mission St, San Francisco CA, 94105
    5:30pm to 7:00pm

    Hack4Congress adCurrent and former members of Congress and Bay Area technologists address the prospects for solving congressional dysfunction

    Co-organized with the HKS Alumni Network of San Francisco, the OpenGov Foundation and POPVOX

    The Ash Center and the HKS Alumni Network of San Francisco invite you to a kickoff panel for the San Francisco #Hack4Congress “Not Just for Technologists” hackathon. The panel will address key structural problems that undermine the efficacy of Congress and explore solutions for improving the lawmaking process in addition to better to facilitating cross-partisan dialogue, and modernizing congressional participation. Panelists will also discuss the prospects and strategies for integrating technology into the operations of Congress today.

  • 2015 Feb 21

    Global Urban Datafest: Smart Cities Challenge – Boston


    Harvard Business School, Batten Hall, 2nd Floor, 125 Western Avenue, Boston, MA
    8:30am to 7:00pm

    CityscapeThe Challenge: Join us and work with Massachusetts cities to solve real challenges they face. Help Holyoke develop solutions to improve its pedestrian experience & support Somerville measure the impact of its city services.

    Who Should Participate: Everyone! You don’t need to be a technology expert to participate... We’re looking for business thinkers, policy analysts, journalists, designers, community organizers, urban planners, or anyone else who is interested in solving real urban challenges.