Ash Features

Will Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal Meet America’s Urgent Need?

Will Biden’s Infrastructure Proposal Meet America’s Urgent Need?

March 31, 2021

President Biden unveiled an ambitious $2 trillion jobs and infrastructure proposal this week. The plan calls for $621 billion in spending for a variety of transportation initiatives, including funding roads and bridges, public transportation, rail improvements, airports and ports, as well as a bevy of new and expanded electric vehicle incentives. Congress is expected to act on the ambitious legislative proposal in the coming months. 

Orange skies in Beijing in 2013

Orange Skies in Beijing

March 23, 2021

A spring sandstorm and worsening air pollution came to a head last week in Beijing, causing the city and surrounding area to become enveloped in an orange smog. To better understand the storm and its impact on the environment, Chinese citizens and government, the Ash Center sat down with Jesse Turiel, Ash Center China Energy Postdoctoral Fellow. 

Voting Rights Battle Enters a New Round

Voting Rights Battle Enters a New Round

March 8, 2021

On Monday, March 1st, the Georgia House of Representatives passed H.B.531, a sweeping elections bill that critics and voting rights advocates were quick to note increases restrictions on absentee voting and curtails weekend early voting hours. In contrast, just two days later, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R.1, legislation containing a broad range of democratic reforms, from automatic voter registration requirements for state agencies to campaign finance reform that its authors hope would do much to lower barriers to voting across much of the country.  

Myanmar After the Coup

Myanmar After the Coup

February 26, 2021
The February 1st coup launched by Myanmar's military effectively put an end to the country's tentative transition to democracy as civilian political leaders were imprisoned and the results of the 2020 elections annulled. During an event sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and moderated by HKS Professor of Public Policy Tarek Masoud, Pwint Htun, Non-Residential Myanmar Program Fellow at the Ash Center, and Derek Mitchell, president of the National Democratic Institute and former U.S. ambassador to Myanmar, discussed how... Read more about Myanmar After the Coup
Tarek Masoud Reflects on the Arab Spring Ten Years Later

Tarek Masoud Reflects on the Arab Spring Ten Years Later

February 10, 2021

As the world looks back on the events that convulsed much of the Middle East a decade ago during what became known as the Arab Spring, the Ash Center sat down with Tarek Masoud, Professor of Public Policy and Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman Professor of International Relations to discuss the prospects for democracy in the region today. 

Myanmar Descends Back into Military Rule

Myanmar Descends Back into Military Rule

February 1, 2021
As Myanmar’s military launched a coup, imprisoning many of the country’s political leaders including Nobel Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, who heads the country’s largest political party, the National League for Democracy, we spoke with David Dapice, a senior economist with the Ash Center’s Myanmar Program.
Challenges for Biden: Sustainable Economic Recovery and China

Challenges for Biden: Sustainable Economic Recovery and China

January 15, 2021

As President-elect Biden prepares to take office, we sat down with Edward Cunningham, the director of the Ash Center’s China Programs and the Asia Energy and Sustainability Initiative at Harvard Kennedy School to discuss how the friction in the U.S.-China relationship might impact America’s economic recovery, and steps that the incoming administration can take to constructively engage with Beijing.  

The Road Ahead for COVID-19 Economic Recovery

The Road Ahead for COVID-19 Economic Recovery

January 15, 2021

With President-elect Biden releasing a comprehensive COVID-19 recovery plan as he prepares to take office, we sat down with Philip Jordan, a research fellow at the Ash Center with extensive experience assessing the impacts of sustainable economic development. Jordan discussed the scope of the economic challenges wrought by COVID-19 as well as how the incoming administration can best target assistance to those segments of the country hit hardest by the economic collapse.  

Our Top Research in 2020

Our Top Research in 2020

December 10, 2020

Each year, the Ash Center works with experts from around the world to publish research and writing on some of the most salient topics relevant to democratic governance, government innovation, and Asia public policy. Touching on issues as varied as Chinese public opinion, to voter engagement, and COVID-19 relief, the work of our scholars has had an important impact in the field of public policy.   

Professor Stephen Goldsmith

Reforming the Curb: Using Technology to Create a More Equitable Streetscape

November 23, 2020

When Stephen Goldsmith, the Derek Bok Professor of Urban Policy and Director of the Ash Center’s Government Innovations Program, served as mayor of Indianapolis, Indiana, “I thought I was the mayor of parking. I don’t think anything mattered except parking in downtown Indianapolis.” Since Goldsmith last held the reins at city hall, the debate over how cities should best put to use curb space and sidewalks has only grown more intense as online delivery companies, ride sharing services, and commercial businesses all vie for...

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Advice to the New Administration on China

Advice to the New Administration on China

November 20, 2020

There's a general consensus in Washington that China presents the most significant geopolitical and strategic challenge to any administration moving forward. However, there are considerable differences in how to deal with that challenge. Should it be through competition? Should it be through confrontation? Or should it be with containment? Or should it be a mixture of any one of those three?

Finding Allies and Making Revolution

Finding Allies and Making Revolution

October 19, 2020

In 1976, foreigners were a rarity in much of China. Even rarer still were foreigners from non-socialist countries studying in Chinese universities, especially given the recent social and educational upheavals of the Cultural Revolution, which was winding down. As a British-born graduate student at the University of Nanjing, Tony Saich—director of the Ash Center and Daewoo Professor of International Affairs—wasn’t exactly an inconspicuous presence around campus.

Is Mandatory Voting the Answer to Our Voting Wars?

Is Mandatory Voting the Answer to Our Voting Wars?

October 19, 2020

Political and legal fights over voter registration deadlines and polling locations are only intensifying as the United States lurches towards one of the most consequential and unprecedented elections in generations, leading many observers to ask, “Does it have to be this way?” Chief among the critics of this unfolding drama of voter suppression, voter disinformation, and an election system nearly brought to its knees by the COVID-19 pandemic is Miles Rapoport, Ash Center senior practice fellow in American democracy. As a former Connecticut secretary of the state, he should know—Rapoport was responsible for running the state’s elections. “What we’ve seen over the last few weeks, with uncertainty over voting rules, lawsuits filed by the dozens, and general confusion about what Election Day should look like, isn’t a flaw in the system. It’s just a further illustration of how our decentralized, often politically driven and in some cases poorly administered election system was designed to function,” he says.

Lawrence stands with her foot and a baseball bat on top of an old typewriter

Moving Municipal Tech Out of the Typewriter Era

October 19, 2020

Boston likes to fashion itself as a global tech hub, proud of the legions of start-ups and tech workers who have made its economy the envy of cities around the country. Yet vestiges of Boston’s analog past can still be found, if you know where to look—such as in the long, brick-fronted building that sprawls over much of a block along Massachusetts Avenue in the city’s Dorchester neighborhood. From the building, which houses the city’s Inspectional Services Division (ISD), the sounds of aging IBM Wheelwriter 1500 electric typewriters, which until recently filled the ISD offices. used to be heard as permit-seekers hunched over its well-worn keys typing out applications for zoning variances.  

Johnson poses in advance of graduation wearing an HKS and HLS graduation stole

A Win for Democracy

October 16, 2020

Demarquin Johnson HLS/HKS 2020 stepped up to a podium for the first time as a freshman in high school in Missouri City, Texas, as a member of his school’s debate team. After several weeks spent doing research, he was prepared to defend the right to vote for citizens convicted of a felony. Fueled by a deep belief that felony disenfranchisement is unjust and a legacy of Jim Crow-era attempts to strip voting rights from Black people, he hammered home how prohibiting people from voting because they were formerly incarcerated runs contrary to the American belief in democracy.

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