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.