Technology and Democracy
The story of technology and government is the story of innovation in government, and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation has long been the Harvard Kennedy School’s primary resource for the research, teaching, and practice of public sector innovation. Over time, the Ash Center has focused its efforts on the potential and pitfalls of a number of levers available to public innovators—public value creation; privatization and managed competition, networked and collaborative governance, social innovation, and encouraging innovative jurisdictions. It has also long turned its attention to the potential and pitfalls of technology as a lever for improving democratic governance.
StudentsAt the heart of the Ash Center are the students it supports. Engaging nearly ten percent of HKS students though some form of support whether scholarships, research grants, internship placements, research assistantships, and more, the Center has helped nurture a strong cohort of students interested in the intersection of government and technology. They want to code. They are passionate about net neutrality. They are perplexed by the failures of the launch of healthcare.gov. They are budding technologists who have chosen public policy over dot com riches. We have aligned with a cadre of students who are passionate and engaged on issues related to civic technology and technology policy.
The Ash Center enthusiastically supports the efforts of students who are passionate and engaged on issues at the intersection of democratic governance and technology. It also provides a number of offerings to help students learn crucial technology-related skills and provide opportunities to develop those skills in applied learning environments. Learn more about the Ash Center's student offerings here.
The Ash Center's Technology and Democracy Workshop Series are hands-on, cocurricular events designed to help HKS students develop real-world technology skills. Led by a network of technology practitioners, participants spend 3 hours working together and with the workshop leader to learn how to apply technical skills to impact real-word scenarios. Learn more and find upcoming workshops here.
PractitionersThe Ash Center convenes practitioners to actively engage and learn about the development and implementation of data-driven best practices to drive innovative change across jurisdictions and the world. Whether it is our Project on Municipal Innovation, our Project on County Innovation, or other programs, the Center connects public officials to the latest research and proven government programs that use new technologies to enhance public value.
The Center has built important relationships with the technologists around the world to promote innovative solutions to issues of democratic engagement and public participation. The Center’s work in this area can be seen through its support of hackathons and technology demonstration events including #Hack4Congress and #Tech4Democracy.
The Ash Center has several efforts that disseminate data-driven solutions to public problems. The Data-Smart City Solutions project is working to catalyze adoption of data projects on the local government level by serving as a central resource for cities interested in this emerging field. Our Better, Faster, Cheaper blog captures the latest in cutting-edge technology, innovative policy approaches, and creative partnerships between government and the private sector.
The Government Innovators Network is the largest online academic portal to provide up-to-date examples of government innovation - many technology-specific - for policymakers, policy advisors, and practitioners interested in improving government and governance. Finally, the Center’s numerous social media outlets amplify all of these efforts.