Research Projects

The Ash Center supports policy-oriented research tracks within its three core program areas of Asia, Government Innovation, and Democratic Governance.  

Participedia 
Participedia's research goal is to develop a large article and database that will support evidence-based answers to the question: What kinds of participatory processes work best, for what purposes, and under what conditions? We hope that you and other practitioners, academics, and students from across the globe will be part of this endeavor, through either contributing content or sharing your analysis of the data found on this site. Read more

Transparency Policy Project
The Transparency Policy Project seeks to understand and improve disclosure of factual information that protects the public. Nutritional labels, car safety ratings, toxic chemical reports, and financial accounting standards are among the scores of policies that aim to reduce risks. Read More

Vietnam Program Mekong Delta Project
The Ash Center and USAID have entered into a partnership to work together to strengthen public policy analysis capacity in the countries of the Lower Mekong Region – including Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam – by planning new policy research projects focused on some of the most vexing dilemmas in the region, including promoting knowledge-intensive economic activity, stewarding natural resources, and forging more effective regional cooperation mechanisms. A special emphasis is placed on protecting the region’s shared water resources, including the Mekong River watershed. Read more

Data-Smart City Solutions
Data-Smart City Solutions is working to catalyze adoption of data projects on the local government level by serving as a central resource for cities interested in this emerging field. The project’s research focus is the intersection of government and data, ranging from open data and predictive analytics to civic engagement technology. Read more


The Transparency for Development Project
 seeks to answer the questions of transparency and citizen-led accountability can improve health outcomes – and in what contexts. The Project works with local civil society organizations to design better mechanisms for citizen-led actions around health and will evaluate these mechanisms using a unique mix of randomized control trials and rigorous qualitative methods to provide new evidence to civil society organizations, donors, and policymakers regarding the potential of transparency and accountability. Read more

Myanmar: Researching Transition Strategies
The Myanmar Program, in partnership with Proximity, is engaged in producing informed and opinionated research for those who want to transform Myanmar from a poor, conflict-ridden, authoritarian state to a democratic, united, and thriving nation. This is as complicated as Myanmar’s history and current situation, in which many groups have been oppressed and marginalized. Such research requires the deep knowledge and connections which Proximity offers and requires contacts with government, legislative, ethnic, opposition, business, and other groups. Read more

Asia Energy and Sustainability Initiative
The Asia Energy and Sustainability Initiative (AESI) leverages the Ash Center’s depth in the study of governance and policy innovation in Asia, the Belfer Center’s expertise in energy technology and energy policy, and draws on the Sustainability Science Program’s system-based analysis of sustainable development. Read more

Regulatory Reform
Working with U.S. cities, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation is building an inventory of regulatory best practices that will support local governments in streamlining regulatory processes, while at the same time supporting local and regional economic development. Read more