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 During Pandemic 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 and democracy.

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

2020 Jul 20

Lift every voice: The urgency of universal civic duty voting

1:00pm to 2:00pm


Virtual event
Register here

Imagine an American democracy where the election system was designed to allow citizens to perform their most basic civic duty with ease and without obstruction. Imagine every citizen treating voting as a civic duty, a society where nearly everyone voted.

Our current crisis of governance has focused unprecedented public attention on intolerable...

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2020 Jul 22

The Power of Art: Black Artists Respond to Pandemic, Demands for Racial Justice, and Threats to Democracy

12:00pm to 1:00pm


Register for virtual event details

Art has the power to provoke, inspire, inform, and force new ways of thinking - particularly in times of crisis. Over the last few years, artists have been engaged in resistance movements, encouraging political participation through their art, and calling attention to issues and tragic events that confront us in novel and affecting ways.

Join us for a discussion on how artists, particularly artists of color, are responding to the current fight for racial justice in the midst of a global pandemic. We will explore how they are expressing what is happening in creative...

Read more about The Power of Art: Black Artists Respond to Pandemic, Demands for Racial Justice, and Threats to Democracy