Discussion Series

The Ash Center regularly hosts a number of public discussion series aimed at presenting scholarly research and public analysis and commentary on pressing issues related to democratic governance. Most events are open to the broader community and provide a unique opportunity to engage with visiting scholars and practitioners. 

The Ash Center’s Comparative Democracy Seminar Series brings innovative scholars in the field of comparative democracy to the Kennedy School to present their research.  Seminars have focused on topics as diverse as compulsory voting, the influence of Christian churches on public policy, the crisis of representation in Latin America, and the oil curse in the Middle East.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the democracy and civic engagement landscape. Through the Ash Center's Democracy and Justice Today series, led by Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, experts, practitioners and academics, will explore the novel challenges that the pandemic poses for justice, democracy, and the 2020 election.

Recent uprisings in cities throughout the US against racialized police violence, along with mass protest movements from Chile to Colombia to Haiti against long-running structural inequality and exclusion, have demonstrated that policymakers and political leaders routinely remain disconnected from, or actively ignore and silence, the experiences of communities directly harmed by their policies. The What Justice Looks Like series, Convened by Assistant Professor Yanilda González, takes a perspective of “public policy from below” by centering the voices of those on the ground level of struggles for justice, but traditionally excluded from the halls of power. 

Race and American Politics is a multidisciplinary series of seminars and roundtable conversations led by Leah Wright Rigueur, Assistant Professor of Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and cosponsored by the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research and the Malcolm Wiener Center for Social Policy. The series will feature academic, practitioner, and journalistic perspectives from across the nation on the most pressing political and social issues related to race in the United States: state-sanctioned violence, protest and social movements, voting rights, political representation, and more.

The Ash Center’s Initiative on Democracy in Hard Places hosts a speaker series that brings to campus distinguished scholars and practitioners to analyze the conditions, institutions, and behaviors that enable democracy to survey in hard places. 

Upcoming events

2022 Oct 06

Breakfast Study Group — Challenges and Prospects of Democracy in the Arab World (Session 5)

8:45am to 10:15am


WexG02 Seminar Room, Harvard Kennedy School

Session five of the Democratization in the Arab World: Challenges and Prospects for the Future Study Group with former Tunisian president Dr. Moncef Marzouki will focus on the role of the economy in the victory the revolution (2010-2011) and its role in the return to power of the counter revolution (2014-2022). Discussion will also touch on topics related to the challenges of long political transitional stages and the disagreement over priorities between an elite obsessed with freedoms and a majority obsessed with the urgency of improving its standard of living. Participants will then...

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2022 Oct 12

Brazilian Democracy Under Attack: 1964 and 2022

12:00pm to 1:30pm


Virtual event, registration required

Join us for a David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies event cosponsored by the Ash Center and the Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. 

In 1964, a military coup d’Etat, supported by sectors of civil society, inaugurated two decades of dictatorship in Brazil. In 2022, a right-wing government works to undermine democratic institutions and find justification for another period of authoritarianism. There is much in common in the political rhetoric used to attack democracy in both periods: antidemocratic...

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2022 Oct 14

Policy Outcomes and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Farmers’ Trade War Experiences

12:00pm to 1:30pm


K354 (3rd Floor), CGIS Knafel Building, 1737 Cambridge St.

Join Neil Malhotra, Edith M. Cornell Professor of Political Economy at Stanford Graduate School of Business for a talk on “Policy Outcomes and Voter Turnout: Evidence from Farmers’ Trade War Experiences.” This discussion is part of the American Politics Speaker Series sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation and the Center for American Political Studies.

This will be an in-person event open to Harvard ID holders only. Lunch will be served.

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