Study Groups and Workshops

The Ash Center regularly sponsors not-for-credit study groups and workshops for interested HKS and Harvard students to work and learn from practitioners and scholars affiliated with the Center. Interested participants should register for each individual study group session they plan on attending. In order to help foster a stronger sense of community amongst study group attendees, we ask that students commit to attending most if not all sessions of a particular study group. Please note that registration is available only to Harvard ID holders at this time. All fall 2022 study groups will be held in-person only at HKS with no remote or hybrid option available. Individual study group session information and registration can be found below. 

Breakfast Study Group: Challenges and Prospects of Democracy in the Arab World

With the process of democratization in the Arab world at a standstill, former Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki is offering an 8-session fall semester study group for Harvard graduate and undergraduate students examining the challenges and future prospects for democracy in the region. As a political actor, policymaker, and practitioner with more than fifty years of experience working on issues related to human rights and democracy, President Marzouki’s study group is an opportunity for students to delve deep into the discussions on the ongoing democratization process in the region and what it reveals about the strengths and weaknesses of the Arab world and democracy itself.

The study group has three main objectives:

  1. To provide context to the challenges of the democratic transition in the Arab world within the broader global framework of democratic advancement and retrenchment.
  2. To analyze the structures and causes specific to the Arab world that can help explain these difficulties.
  3. To examine, in the light of the analysis, what modifications should be made to both theory and the political practice in order to promote and protect democracy not only in the Arab countries but also in the world.

Democratization in the Arab world is not just an issue for intellectuals or political activists. It is a long, painful process, which is very costly in terms of human suffering. During each session, this dimension will be recalled by an emotional moment dedicated to the memory of poets, singers, thinkers and artists who have defended democracy with their hearts.

In order to help foster a stronger sense of community amongst study group attendees, we ask that students commit to participating in most if not all of the 8 fall semester sessions. Please note that this-in person study group is open to Harvard ID holders only. Breakfast will be provided. Sessions meet on September 8, September 15, September 22, September 29, October 6, October 27, November 3, and November 17.

About the Study Group Convenor
Dr Moncef Marzouki is a senior fellow with the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation’s Democracy in Hard Places Initiative. He is a former professor of public health at the University of Sousse (Tunisia) and Paris (France) as well as the former president of Tunisia.

Lunchtime Study Group: Corruption and Anticorruption 

 

This in-person study group, held on five Mondays 12-1pm ET is designed to engage HKS and Harvard degree students to understand global trends in corruption and anticorruption efforts, mechanics of systemic corruption, and current challenges controlling corruption. Led by Professor Jeeyang Rhee Baum, who has over 30 years of experience working in and with developing democracies, the program will draw on the expertise of a range of HKS Ash Center fellows, practitioners and others from media and policy analysis organizations. The objective is for students to gain and appreciate the complexity of combatting corruption but leave with a set of analytical tools to critically examine and develop interventions in the future. Because the program depends upon interactive discussions and will be capped at 22 students, we particularly encourage those who enjoy active participation and lively debate to sign up. Attendees will be accepted for and notified about each individual session. Students may be accepted for one, multiple or all sessions. You will be notified for acceptance of each session the week prior to that specific discussion. Readings will be assigned.

 

In order to help foster a stronger sense of community amongst study group attendees, we ask that students commit to participating in most if not all of the scheduled study group sessions. Please note that this-in person study group is open to Harvard ID holders only. Lunch will be provided.

 

Sessions meet October 3, October 17, October 24, October 31, November 7.

 

Lunchtime Study Group: Co-Creating Local Government

 

What does good democracy look like in action at the local level? How do you create trust and credibility and build engagement in a community in an era of lack of trust in government? This fall Joe Curtatone, who was Mayor of Somerville for 18 years, and Kristen Stelljes, former Somervile SomerStat Director and COVID Incident Commander, will lead a five session study group that will seek to answer these questions. Drawing on their experiences in Somerville, Joe and Kristen will encourage lively debate and discussion about the role of local governments and residents. From the perspective of an elected official and a public servant, they will also share stories and examples of how the ideals of good government and public participation can be put into action. To foster active engagement, participation will be capped at 20. Sessions will be held on Wednesdays from 12:00-1:00pm from September 21 to October 19.

 

In order to help foster a stronger sense of community amongst study group attendees, we ask that students commit to participating in most if not all of the scheduled study group sessions. Please note that this-in person study group is open to Harvard ID holders only. Lunch will be provided.

Upcoming Study Group Sessions

2022 Oct 31

Lunchtime Study Group—Corruption and Anticorruption (Session 4): Institutional Checks and Corruption

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Ash Center Conference Room, #226, 124 Mt Auburn Street, Suite 200N

Most analyses of the causes and means of eradicating corruption boil down to one of two factors: the strength of institutions or political will. These factors are, however, inextricably linked. Those who have the will to address corruption can make headway only to the extent that they wield sufficient authority to tackle the problem. But those who have authority---i.e., who hold political power---typically are best positioned to benefit from corruption. Because no one can fully commit to...

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2022 Nov 03

Breakfast Study Group — Challenges and Prospects of Democracy in the Arab World (Session 7)

8:45am to 10:15am

Location: 

WexG02 Seminar Room, Harvard Kennedy School

Session seven of the Democratization in the Arab World: Challenges and Prospects for the Future Study Group with former Tunisian president Dr. Moncef Marzouki will examine how the very mechanisms of democracy were used to assassinate democracy in Tunisia during the democratic transition (2011-2014). Participants will then debate the questions: “Is the people a populist concept? Do the people have a will that only elections can express? Can we defend democratic rules and institutions  from being hijacked by corrupt media and political parties without falling into some form of...

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2022 Nov 07

Lunchtime Study Group—Corruption and Anticorruption (Session 5): Democracy after Corruption Scandals

12:00pm to 1:00pm

Location: 

Ash Center Conference Room, #226, 124 Mt Auburn Street, Suite 200N

What happens to the legitimacy of the state after major political corruption scandals? Brazil’s general elections in October raises important questions about democratic accountability and the future of anticorruption reforms. Session five will discuss these questions in the context of Brazil’s reform process, following one of the largest anticorruption investigations in history, Lava Jato, as well as in other countries where recent corruption scandals have threatened the survival of chief executives.

...

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2022 Nov 17

Breakfast Study Group — Challenges and Prospects of Democracy in the Arab World (Session 8)

8:45am to 10:15am

Location: 

WexG02 Seminar Room, Harvard Kennedy School

Session eight of the Democratization in the Arab World: Challenges and Prospects for the Future Study Group with former Tunisian president Dr. Moncef Marzouki will examine whether the demand for institutional democracy lags behind the already very advanced grass roots social democratization. Despite the collapse of the political superstructure of democracy in Tunisia (parliament, political parties, elections), society has continued to build a strong democratic infrastructure represented by a growing number of civil society organizations. Participants will also discuss if we should we...

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