Ash Features

Uche Pedro smiling as she presents her work at the Ash Center

A New Story for Nigeria

October 13, 2020
In June 2006, a few days after Uche Pedro MC/MPA 2020 graduated from Western University, Ontario with a degree in business she started an anonymous blog about Nigerian pop culture. Going to a university in Canada had opened Pedro’s eyes to how little people knew of her native country’s burgeoning entertainment scene. Posting clips from magazines and stories about music and fashion in her free time, she hoped BellaNaija, her site, could help introduce the world to a new narrative about Nigeria.
Roll of 'I Voted' stickers

Valerie Jarrett on the value of a vote and reaching Gen-Z

September 23, 2020

Following the 2016 presidential election, senior advisor to then President Barack Obama Valerie Jarret and First Lady Michelle Obama poured over election return data. “Michelle Obama and I did a lot of soul searching trying to figure out what happened,” said Jarrett during a virtual discussion moderated by Harvard Law School Lester Kissel Professor of Law David Wilkins, hosted by Harvard Votes Challenge, the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, and Institute of Politics, this Tuesday to mark National Voter Registration Day. “I think the number that really jumped out at us was that nearly 100 million eligible Americans did not vote. That’s a big number in a country that depends on democracy, which requires civic engagement and participation at the most fundamental level.” 

The view of Yosemite Valley from Tunnel View in Yosemite National Park, California, United States

For a moment, partisanship takes a backseat to conservation in the nation’s capital

July 28, 2020

As election season descends across the country and the political rhetoric emanating out of Washington only becomes more bitter, something rare happened last week on Capitol Hill—large bipartisan majorities passed one of the most far-reaching pieces of conservation legislation in a generation. The bill, known as the Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) will pump billions of dollars into overdue repairs and maintenance of the country’s national parks and permanently fund a slew of other federal conservation programs. President Trump tweeted his support ahead of its passage before the House and is expected to sign the bill later this month.

China's Great Hall of the People

An Uncertain Future for Hong Kong

May 28, 2020

As the National Party Congress, China’s annual legislative session, concludes, the Ash Center sat down with Director Anthony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs to discuss a new security law previewed during the convening that could define the future of Beijing’s relationship to Hong Kong.

Georges poses on the steps of a New York City apartment building on

#CancelRent One Letter at a Time

May 26, 2020

In March, as the spread of COVID-19 across large swaths of the US effectively shuttered much of the country’s economy, millions of newly unemployed were left wondering how they would be able to pay rent. Some cities, such as Los Angeles, where nearly 60 percent of residents are renters, imposed COVID-related prohibitions on evictions. LA’s eviction moratorium required that renters who had lost jobs due to the pandemic notify their landlords in writing that they would be unable to pay rent.

Laura Miller smiles, holding a blue megaphone

Mobilizing Voters On and Off-Line

May 13, 2020
On January 1, 2017, Michelle Obama moved out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and became former first lady of the United States. "I think our democracy has it exactly right: two terms, eight years. It's enough," she told Vogue magazine.  
Boarded up door set within a worn brick wall

The Voices of Vacant Homes

May 8, 2020

For two months during the fall of 2016, the darkest corners and forgotten spaces in Albany, New York, were brought shining back to life. Thousands of abandoned buildings can be found in New York’s capital city, emptied in the wake of a manufacturing exodus from the region. But, for a short period, hundreds of buildings were transformed at night as gentle pulsing lights, mimicking the soft rhythm of human breath, shone through the windows. 

A sign that reads "dangerous building" hangs outside a home in Chelsea Massachusetts

At the Center of the Outbreak

May 7, 2020

The Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation sat down with Katharine Robb, a postdoctoral research fellow at the center’s Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative where she has been conducting research on housing and health in Chelsea, Mass. This densely populated city adjacent to Boston has seen some of the worst COVID-19 infection rates in the state. Robb completed her doctorate in public health degree at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in 2019.

Request for absentee ballot

Miles Rapoport on the Challenges Coronavirus Poses to Election Day

March 16, 2020

As the presidential primary season unfolds, the Ash Center sat down with Miles Rapoport, Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy at the Ash Center and former Secretary of the State for Connecticut, for a conversation about the steps that election officials can take to lessen the risks posed by coronavirus on election day.... Read more about Miles Rapoport on the Challenges Coronavirus Poses to Election Day

Capitol hill

Convincing Congress to Remove its Tech Policy Blinders

February 11, 2020

The Ash Center sat down with Zach Graves, a 2019 Technology and Democracy Fellow, head of policy at the Lincoln Network, and author of “Science, Technology, and Democracy: Building a Modern Congressional Technology Assessment Office,” a new paper offering recommendations and a road map for resurrecting a technology assessment capability in Congress.

Students and staff work together to register new voters on the Kennedy School campus

Harvard Voter Turnout Doubles in 2018 Election

October 10, 2019

A detailed analysis of midterm voter turnout figures from the 2018 elections shows that the percentage of eligible Harvard students who turned up at the polls nearly doubled when compared to the last midterm elections in 2014.

Students with Mayor Craig

A New Approach In City Hall

August 28, 2019

The red brick and weathered stone of city hall stretch three stories above Manchester, New Hampshire’s central business district, topped by an elaborate, Gothic Revival spire. Sunlight streams through the arched windows of the building into a winding stairwell lined with portraits of city leaders, from 1846 to the present—neat rows climb from black and white to color; all stern gazes, mustaches, and crisp shirt collars. The march of masculinity is broken by the very last portrait—a smiling blonde woman.... Read more about A New Approach In City Hall

Lin Wei

China’s Toilet Revolution

August 8, 2019
Each year, November 19 marks the date of an important revolution in China—World Toilet and China Toilet Revolution Awareness Day. Though washroom puns often accompany headlines about China’s effort to improve the state of its public restrooms, the issue is no laughing matter in the eyes of the country’s leaders. President Xi’s “Toilet Revolution” announcement in 2015 was front-page news in the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and a useful cipher for understanding Beijing’s policy priorities. At the time of Xi’s announcement, China’s public bathrooms were described as unhygienic, filthy, crude, anxiety-inducing, and often in short supply. The condition of the country’s bathrooms was both a mounting issue for China’s growing tourism industry as well as an ongoing public health crisis.... Read more about China’s Toilet Revolution
Elizabeth Plantan

A Tale of Two Countries

July 29, 2019

Elizabeth Plantan, a China postdoctoral fellow with the Ash Center, spent her 21st birthday in Irkutsk, Siberia, near Lake Baikal. With windchill, the temperature was minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit. “It's the sort of cold where your eyelashes freeze, but everyone still walks everywhere in the snow,” she recalled.

Plantan, then an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, made the long trek to Irkutsk because she hoped to completely embed herself into Russian culture and community. “I wanted there to be very few foreigners so I wouldn't have any temptation to speak English,” she said of her decision to swap the mild climate of Middletown, Connecticut, for the subarctic Siberian environment.... Read more about A Tale of Two Countries

Chris Robichaud poses with a Spiderman mug in his office

Office Hours: Christopher Robichaud

July 22, 2019

Jaws drop the first time most students enter Christopher Robichaud’s office. The animated response is fitting for the senior lecturer in public policy’s workspace. On top of, between, and leaning against the books that line nearly every inch of the walls—save the window looking out over John F. Kennedy Memorial Park—are memorabilia ranging from collector-edition action figures to a vintage-inspired Star Wars turntable.  

Robichaud, an Ash faculty affiliate, opened his door for a conversation with the Center about his unique decor... Read more about Office Hours: Christopher Robichaud