Media Release  

Professor Archon Fung named faculty director of the Ash Center

Professor Archon Fung has been appointed faculty director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

Cambridge, MA—Professor Archon Fung has been appointed faculty director of Harvard Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. Fung serves as the Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government at the Kennedy School, where he has been on the faculty since 1999. He will start his additional appointment as director of the Ash Center on July 1.

“We are extremely fortunate that Professor Fung has agreed to direct the Ash Center at Harvard Kennedy School,” said Dean Douglas Elmendorf. “Democracies around the world are under threat today, and the Ash Center’s activities to strengthen democracy have never been more important. Professor Fung’s research and teaching on participation, deliberation, and transparency in democratic governance fit perfectly with the center’s mission.”

Fung’s writings have been published widely in books, academic journals, and popular publications. His books include Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy, and his recent papers include “Can Transparency and Accountability Programs Include Health? Experimental Evidence from Indonesia and Tanzania” and “When Deliberation Produces Persuasion Rather than Polarization: Measuring and Modeling Small Group Dynamics in a Field Experiment.”

Professor Fung was academic dean of the Kennedy School from 2014 to 2018, serving as acting dean during the fall of 2015. Between 2016 and 2018 he also co-chaired a Harvard-wide task force on inclusion and belonging established by then-president Drew Faust. He is active in other initiatives as well, including co-chairing the Kennedy School’s joint degree program with Harvard Law School and participating in Harvard’s recent committee regarding principles of renaming. He currently directs the democratic governance programs of the Ash Center.

“For more than two decades, the Ash Center has been a focal point for improving the quality of democracy around the world,” Fung said. “Delivering on our mission now is more important than it has ever been. I am grateful to be able to work with the devoted staff of the Ash Center, our fellows, and with faculty and students from all parts of the Kennedy School and around the University to develop new ideas that will fortify and reimagine democracy for our current and future challenges.”

Fung will succeed Tony Saich as director of the Ash Center. Saich is the Daewoo Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School. His most recent book is Rebel to Ruler: One Hundred Years of the Chinese Communist Party. Saich will continue in his faculty position and as leader of the Rajawali Institute for Asia within the Ash Center.

Dean Elmendorf commented: “Tony Saich has been a remarkable leader of the Ash Center for more than a dozen years. His commitment to the Center’s mission and people—and to the Kennedy School as a whole—has empowered so many members of the Kennedy School community to learn more and do more to make a positive difference in the world. I am very grateful for his service.”

“I am deeply thankful to Tony for building up the Ash Center from its inception as a program on government innovations to encompass many other activities including those on democratic institutions and practices, Asia public policy, Indigenous self-determination and nation building, and antiracism, and for creating a vibrant community of faculty, fellows, staff and students,” said Fung.

The Roy and Lila Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation advances excellence and innovation in governance and public policy through research, education, and public discussions. The Ford Foundation is a founding donor of the Center. Among the many activities underway at the Ash Center are the Democratic Governance Program, the Institutional Antiracism and Accountability Project, the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, and the Rajawali Foundation Institute for Asia.

About the Ash Center

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School advances excellence in governance and strengthens democratic institutions worldwide. Through its research, education, international programs, and government innovations awards, the Center fosters creative and effective government problem solving and serves as a catalyst for addressing many of the most pressing needs of the world’s citizens.


Daniel Harsha

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

Sarah Grucza

Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation