The Ash Center’s Top Research and Policy Insights from Spring 2023

Explore some of our top research and commentary from this semester


Whether its examining potential hacks to our democracy, debunking baseless election administration rumors, or highlighting innovative civic engagement strategies, the Ash Center is committed to bettering our democracy for generations to come. Throughout this semester, our scholars have helped produce new and thought-provoking research and analysis contributing to our broader understanding of the challenges – and opportunities facing our democracy and democratic institutions today.
We invite you to explore some of the top insights from our scholars below.   

Youth without Representation

Q+A with Aksel Sundström; January 2023

In his new book “Youth without Representation: The Absence of Young Adults in Parliaments, Cabinets, and Candidacies,” former Ash Center fellow Aksel Sundström and his co-author Daniel Stockemer explore the hurdles to youth involvement in politics and political institutions. We sat down with Sundström to discuss his new book and the ideas for righting this generational imbalance.

A Hacker‘s Mind: How the Powerful Bend Society’s Rules, and How to Bend them Back

Bruce Schneier; February 2023

In “A Hacker’s Mind,” Bruce Schneier takes hacking out of the world of computing and uses it to analyze the systems that underpin our society: from tax laws to financial markets to politics. He reveals an array of powerful actors whose hacks bend our economic, political, and legal systems to their advantage, at the expense of everyone else.

Antiracist Institutional Change in Healthcare

Khalil Gibran Muhammad and Angel Rodriguez; March 2023

COVID-19 and the 2020 wave of racial justice demonstrations in the United States moved many healthcare organizations to enact antiracist change goals. Yet, many of these commitments lacked effective strategies and accountability mechanisms. IARA conducted a one-year study of existing antiracist interventions in healthcare organizations and a review of authoritative evidence for institutional accountability.

Does France’s pension reform controversy highlight the need for deliberative democracy?

Q+A with Yves Sintomer; March 2023

In March, protesters in Paris flooded the streets in response to proposed pension reforms that raised the retirement age from 62 to 64. Nevertheless, Macron and his Renaissance party bypassed the National Assembly to enact their proposal without the approval of the country’s largest representative legislative body. Yves Sintomer shares his thoughts.

Democracy on the Precipice?

Q+A with Archon Fung; March 2023 

With democracy on the brink, Professor Archon Fung, director of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, provided attendees at a Harvard Kennedy School discussion with a diagnosis for democracy’s ailments — and laid out a treatment plan to restore the health of our democratic institutions.

The Other “Big Lie” and Our Democratic Fragility

Archon Fung; March 2023

In an essay reflecting on the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War, Archon Fung argues that misinformation about the existence of weapons of mass destruction damaged American democracy for decades to come.

Civic Engagement in Somerville: Joe Curtatone’s Story of How Community Activism Powered a Remarkable Urban Renaissance

Joe Curtatone, April 2023

In this case study, the former mayor of Somerville, Joe Curtatone, reflects on his 18 years in office and illuminates the many ways in which civic engagement enabled Somerville’s renaissance. The mayor offers intimate, behind-the-scenes accounts of the Assembly Square development, Green Line extension, and Shape Up Somerville program, which helped inspire Michelle Obama’s nationwide “Let’s Move!” campaign.

Claims against nonpartisan voter record system are baseless says former West Virginia Secretary of State

Q+A with Natalie Tennant; April 2023

Since early 2022, a trend of state departures from Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC) has been underway in states like Louisiana, Ohio, and Iowa — a trend that indicates growing partisanship infiltrating parts of the election administration process. IOP fellow and former West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant offers her reactions to troubling trends.