Ash Center Communiqué Spring 2019

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The Magazine of the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation

Spring 2019 Volume 23

Harvard Votes Challenge Ash Campaigns to Get Students to the Ballot Box




Welcome from the Director Here on campus, as we welcome spring’s arrival, we are energized not only by the warmer weather but also by the momentum that was built around the Harvard Votes Challenge, the University-wide initiative to encourage students to go to the polls. As the director for the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, I am reminded daily of the responsibility each of us has in striving to shore up our democratic institutions, as well as the great promise that grows when an energetic group of scholars, students, and staff put their minds to what would be a daunting task. In today’s climate, what could be more important than instilling the importance of civic engagement in young adults and getting them excited about exercising their right to vote? Our feature story tells how the effort to get 90 percent of eligible HKS students to commit to voting unfolded and of the Ash Center’s leadership role. I hope you will also read our student, alumni, and fellow profiles, as well as our profile of the 2018 winner of the Innovations in American Government Award, Works Wonders, a Rhode Island program that is transforming lives by providing a holistic support system for youth aging out of foster care. This issue of the Ash Center’s Communiqué has a new design but is again rich in stories and ideas, and I am sure you will find something edifying and inspiring within.


Harvard Kennedy School 79 John F. Kennedy Street Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 (617) 495-0557 | DIRECTOR




Daniel Harsha DESIGNER

Melissa Winslow Axelrod PHOTOGRAPHY

Tony Saich Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation Daewoo Professor of International Affairs Harvard Kennedy School

Raychel Casey Collin Gately Sarah Rebecca Grucza Anne Lin (Unsplash) Jennifer Musisi Rita Allen Foundation Martha Stewart Xenia Viragh David Wilson Copyright ©2019 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College

“The vote is the most fundamental act of American democracy, and yet very few of us actually turn out to vote” Archon Fung enjoys an Election Day celebration in the JFK Jr. Forum



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—Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government


In This Issue NEWS

4 Dara Kay Cohen Wins Emerging Scholar Award New Faculty Affiliates



8 Harvard Votes: Ash Campaigns to Get Students to the Ballot Box

Ryan Swann: A Story of Service

Exploring China’s Critical Role in the Greater Mekong Basin FELLOW PROFILE

Stephen Goldsmith Examines Mobility Management in New Ash Paper Ash Researchers Ask: Are Transparency and Technology Mobilizing Patients?


18 Q+A with Kathryn Sikkink

Jennifer Musisi: From Kampala to Cambridge ALUMNI PROFILE

Cecily Tyler: Behind the Lens

7 Innovation Field Lab Expands to 10 Cities in New York Learning from Mayors: New Teaching Case on Cross-Sector Collaboration in Louisville





Working Wonders for Foster Youth: Winner of 2018 Innovations in American Government Award Builds Bridges to Careers and Opportunity

Recent Publications from Ash Scholars BY THE NUMBERS

22 Harvard Votes Challenge by the Numbers




Dara Kay Cohen Wins Emerging Scholar Award Dara Kay Cohen, Ford Foundation Associate Professor of Public Policy and Ash resident faculty affiliate, has been honored with the 2019 Emerging Scholar Award from the International Security Studies Section of the International Studies Association. The award, which was conferred at the ISA Annual Convention in Toronto in March, recognizes scholars under the age of 45 or within 15 years of receiving their PhD who are judged to have made the most significant contribution to the field of security studies through their body of publications. Cohen’s research interests include the causes and consequences of political violence, as well as issues of gender and conflict. Her first book, Rape During Civil War (Cornell, 2016), examined the variation in the use of rape during recent civil conflicts; it received several major book awards, including the Lowi Award for best first book in any field in political science. Her second book (under contract with Cambridge University Press) focuses on mob justice and issues of state legitimacy in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

New Faculty Affiliates: Cornell Brooks, Khalil Muhammad, Ben Schneer and Kathryn Sikkink This academic year, the Ash Center was honored to welcome four Harvard Kennedy School faculty to its growing academic community: Cornell Brooks, Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Social Justice and also director of the William Monroe Trotter Collaborative for Social Justice at the Center for Public Leadership at HKS, as well as a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, who is a former president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a civil rights attorney, and an ordained minister; Khalil Muhammad, Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy, whose scholarship examines the broad intersections of race, democracy, inequality, and criminal justice in modern US history, and who wrote The Condemnation of Blackness: Race, Crime, and the Making of Modern Urban America (Harvard, 2011); Benjamin Schneer, Assistant Professor of Public Policy, whose focus is primarily on political representation in American politics, and whose most recent papers studied the influence the media has on the national political conversation and the role that petitioning has played in American political development; and Kathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, who works on international norms and institutions, transnational advocacy networks, the impact of human rights law and policies, and transitional justice [see page 12 for Q+A].



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Clockwise from top left: Cornell Brooks, Khalil Muhammad, Ben Schneer, and Kathryn Sikkink


Exploring China’s Critical Role in the Greater Mekong Basin


“One of the most important responsibilities that we have in our society is voting. If we didn’t vote, our democracy would fall apart” The Mekong River, one of the world’s largest river systems, weaves through six countries—China (Yunnan province), where it is called the Lancang River; Lao People’s Democratic Republic; Myanmar; Thailand; Cambodia; and Vietnam. Together, these countries are responsible for preserving the river’s 2,700 miles of natural resources, but, historically, the management of the Mekong has been disjointed. For the team of Ash Center scholars dedicated to researching public policy solutions to improve the lives of the 60 million people who rely on the Mekong, this is a serious problem. “The health of the Greater Mekong Basin ecosystem is declining. Regional cooperation is imperative to preserve this critical lifeblood,” says Ash Center Director Tony Saich. Building upon the Center’s earlier work through the Lower Mekong Public Policy Initiative, a new project focused on China’s role in shared management of the Mekong and supported by a grant from the Harvard Global Institute was launched in fall 2018. The Center’s work, led by Saich and spearheaded by Senior Fellow in Development Malcolm McPherson, will focus on ways to build upon the 2016 Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Framework and generate the necessary regional transboundary collaboration. The research will culminate in a paper, the focal point of a workshop to be hosted by Beijing Normal University in May 2019. At the workshop, scholars and experts from Beijing Normal, the Chinese government, Fulbright University Vietnam, and other Asian research entities will join Harvard faculty to further refine this research and offer suggestions for its practical implementation.

—Corley Kenna, Senior Director of Global Communications and Public Relations, Patagonia, speaking at the Ash Center’s HUBweek event on US voting culture last fall



of citizens ages 18 to 29 were estimated to have turned out to vote in the 2018 midterms in comparison to the


of young voters who turned out in 2014

See page 22 for more youth voter facts and figures Data from The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, February 2019




Stephen Goldsmith Examines Mobility Management in New Ash Paper In a recent paper published by the Ash Center, Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government and director of the Ash Center’s Innovations in Government Program, takes a close look at how city leaders are grappling with the congestion induced by the advent of ridesharing services. In “Reforming Mobility Management: Rethinking the Regulatory Framework,” Goldsmith lays out a new model for how cities can effectively regulate these services without stifling innovation. With the proliferation of ridesharing services in nearly every city across the country, concerns are rising over how the ever-growing number of Uber and Lyft trips are negatively impacting traffic congestion. Last year, mayors of large cities cited

traffic as a top-three concern mentioned by citizens. Yet these ridesharing services have found a ready customer base in urban dwellers frustrated by outmoded public transportation systems and monopolistic taxi associations. To alleviate the tension surrounding urban mobility, writes Goldsmith, cities “must embrace a new role of planner, coordinator, and facilitator of a distributed system of integrated [transportation] providers.” Goldsmith calls on cities to acknowledge that ridesharing services can greatly increase access to and availability of urban mobility options. The paper advocates for a “light touch” regulatory regime that wrings maximum efficiency from congested urban roadways and curbsides through market-based usage models such as curbside pricing. “By charging for time stopped at the curb, the system incentivizes quick turnover and efficient pickups to avoid the negative effects of vehicles lingering at curbside,” Goldsmith writes. In short, he says, cities “must take an active role in the creation of rules to consistently manage the new market.”

Ash Researchers Ask: Are Transparency and Technology Mobilizing Patients?

The Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health studies some of the most innovative health information initiatives to understand their design and objectives and how they may affect patient engagement. This research, led by Ash resident faculty affiliate Archon Fung along with co-investigator Elena Fagotto (pictured above), selected the latest frontier of platforms that allow patients not only to access health information but also generate and share their health data and connect with others. To collect evidence, the project 6


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team examined eight distinct initiatives ranging from online health communities for women with breast cancer to efforts to motivate patients to contribute data and ideas to research. They also conducted 100 interviews with patients, doctors, and technology entrepreneurs. This research revealed, among other things, that sometimes the information that patients find online is difficult to understand and act upon, and that connecting with others is a powerful motivation to engage. The evidence also suggests that some platforms appeal to more educated and tech-savvy patients, while others may reach a more diverse population. By developing a typology and a taxonomy of initiatives, the project team created a framework to understand what motivates patients to engage, and how different features sustain different kinds of patient engagement, with the hope that this framework informs the work of platform leaders, funders, and scholars resulting in information initiatives that are more attuned to patients’ needs and abilities. This research was funded by the Commonwealth Fund and is part of the Ash Center’s Transparency Policy Project. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT TRANSPARENCYFORHEALTH.ASH.HARVARD.EDU


Innovation Field Lab Expands to 10 Cities in New York

This winter, the Ash Center announced the launch of its Innovation Field Lab (IFL) New York, a two-year program comprised of data-driven experimentation, real-time policy innovation, and executive education opportunities for city leaders from across New York designed to strengthen cross-silo performance leadership in the fight against blight and distressed properties. The new program builds upon the successful work of the Center’s existing Innovation Field Lab, taught by Lecturer Jorrit de Jong, an Ash Center resident faculty affiliate, which has embedded dozens of Harvard graduate students with local governments from across eastern Massachusetts to collaborate on develop-

ing a holistic, data-driven strategy to prioritize and resolve the prevalence of problem properties. IFL New York, also led by de Jong, will work with a unique collaborative of cities and organizations named Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement (Cities RISE), established by the New York State Office of the Attorney General in 2017, which provides cities with an opportunity to pilot creative and forward-thinking initiatives in combatting urban blight. The Ash Center will be collaborating closely with Tolemi, a data integration and software company, and Hester Street, an urban planning, design, and development nonprofit. IFL New York’s role is to help municipal leaders develop innovations in policy and programming, navigate the barriers to implementing effective programs, and use data to test and measure the success of these interventions. Participating cities include Albany, Binghamton, Buffalo, Elmira, Mt. Vernon, Newburgh, Niagara Falls, Rochester, Syracuse, and White Plains. Mayors and senior leaders from these 10 cities partnering with the Field Lab will also have the opportunity to participate in a Harvard Kennedy School Executive Education course to develop and refine new skills, build relationships with academic and practitioner experts, gain enhanced leadership capacity, and develop an actionable strategy for addressing blight in their cities.

Learning from Mayors: New Teaching Case on Cross-Sector Collaboration in Louisville

Louisville high schoolers are focus of a push to increase region’s number of college graduates

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative this winter released its first teaching package including a new case study, “Change at the Speed of Trust,” about how Louisville, Kentucky worked to address the city’s significant achievement gap. At the turn of the 21st century, Louisville found itself trailing peer cities along a number of key measures of prosperity and quality of life. Since then, two consecutive mayors have advanced collaborative efforts across sectors to increase students’ college and career readiness.

The case tells the story of how, under the leadership of Mayor Greg Fischer, these efforts evolved into a push for system change in education from “cradle to career” through wraparound services and scholarship guarantees for graduating high school students. The case explores cross-sector collaboration and governance in a citywide context from the mayor’s point of view, centering on the question of whether the process is moving too fast or too slow. It also supports learning about the design and management of cross-sector collaborations, including common challenges and success factors. The case allows readers to place themselves in the shoes of Louisville’s senior leaders and discussants to surface a variety of perspectives. Following a new model created for the initiative’s case materials, “Change at the Speed of Trust” is accompanied both by a conventional academic teaching note and by instructional materials that enable a much wider range of people working in—and with—cities to quickly spur insightful discussions and engage in illuminating conversations with their colleagues. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT CITYLEADERSHIP.HARVARD.EDU



HARVARD VOTES Getting eligible Harvard students to vote in US elections shouldn’t be hard, should it? After all, the University prides itself on being a training ground for emerging leaders, inculcating into successive generations of students the values and importance of civic engagement and democratic governance. But it turns out that many of these same students don’t exercise what is arguably democracy’s core right and responsibility while at Harvard: showing up at the polls. Voting participation numbers for young Americans are low. Indeed, in some elections, particularly when a presidential race is not at the top of the ticket, turnout can be abysmally low. For example, in the 2014 midterm elections, a record low 19.9 percent of voters aged 18–29 cast a vote according to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University. That year, students at Harvard voted at only a slightly higher rate than their peers around the country, with an estimated 24 percent of eligible undergraduate and graduate students turning out for an election that tipped control of the US Senate and statehouses around the country. Getting Out the Youth Vote Academics and commentators struggle to explain why the overwhelming majority of young people stay away from the polls, in 2014 and most other recent elections. Reflecting on the 2014 vote, Peter Levine, who previously headed CIRCLE at Tufts, posited that campaigns simply failed to mobilize young voters. Looking back at the dismal 2014 turnout figures, he pointed to a Pew Research Center survey concluding that voters aged 18–28 were least likely to 8


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Melissa Winslow Axelrod

Ash Faculty, Staff, and Students Lead the Charge in a School-wide Campaign to Get Students to the Polls

be contacted directly by a campaign. Others have laid the blame for low turnout participation rates on the many institutional roadblocks to youth voting, including onerous ID requirements that target students or absentee ballot restrictions that effectively disenfranchise students enrolled at universities that are unable to return home to vote. An HKS Institute of Politics (IOP) survey conducted in 2015 after the midterm pointed to rising alienation among young voters from traditional authority figures, with many respondents concluding their votes would not make a difference anyway. –Archon Fung For Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government and faculty director of the Ash Center’s Democratic Governance program, the answer to solving this massive participation gap can be found in creating a new culture of voting. “We need to create and thicken the culture of political participation and voting so that everybody has a stronger sense that they should participate in politics.” Traditionally, voter participation has been the domain of political parties and candidates, but Fung believes that it would be “much, much more powerful if the civic culture of participation was woven throughout our communities and organizations—including nonprofit organizations, schools, and companies.”

“I was probably about 70% confident that we’d get to 90%, but I was 100% confident that we’d learn a lot”

An Ambitious Goal Fung has been examining what it would take for US voter-turnout levels to reach 80 percent, the average among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Removing institutional barriers to voting by doing away with discriminatory voter ID laws, cumbersome registration requirements, and other restrictive policies that make it harder to vote would likely result in marginally increased turnout numbers, Fung argues, “but it wouldn’t do much to get us to 80 or 90 percent participation.” Kathryn Sikkink, Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy, echoes this idea, “We have to simultaneously demand that the state respect rights to vote while mobilizing individuals about their responsibility to vote” [see Q+A with Sikkink on page 12]. Unsurprisingly, Fung and Sikkink see large institutions—corporations as well as schools and universities like Harvard—as natural incubators for enabling and encouraging this culture of voting. Inspired by the 2016 Big Ten Voting Challenge, a voting registration and participation competition held among the 14 universities in the Big Ten Conference, Fung, along with the Ash Center and the IOP, wanted to formalize a student voter engagement campaign in the months leading up to the 2018 general election in order to “raise the salience and the importance of democracy as an issue for everybody at the Kennedy School.” Fung and the Ash Center, working with the IOP and its cadre of civically- and politically-minded undergraduates, along with students, staff, and facul-

ty from across the University, asked what it would take to launch a voter participation campaign across as many of Harvard’s degree granting schools as possible. For this new voter participation drive, ultimately dubbed the Harvard Votes Challenge (HVC), the Ash Center helped coordinate the HKS arm of the campaign. As a school of government, Fung felt that the bar should be raised even higher, and set a goal of having 90 percent of eligible HKS students participate. It was an ambitious target. “I was probably about 70 percent confident that we’d get to 90 percent, but I was 100 percent confident that we’d learn a lot,” Fung later admitted. While the immediate goal of the challenge was to increase the previously anemic levels of student voting, the overarching goal for Fung, Sikkink, and others at HKS was to use HVC as a vehicle for creating a pervasive culture of voter participation and civic engagement at the School. “We know that people everywhere are more likely to vote if it’s embedded in positive community activities or a positive campus climate,” said Sikkink. Building the Tools and Team Teresa Acuña, associate director of the Ash Center’s Democratic Governance programs, worked closely with Fung and Sikkink to conceive and execute the challenge. “For us to be successful, we knew we had to have students in the driver’s seat to create buy-in from their classmates and friends, as well as help with the nitty-gritty of running what in essence was a highly targeted voter-mobilization effort.” Thankfully for Fung and Acuña, there was no shortage of HKS students willing to take up the mantle of leadership for the challenge. “This is Harvard, this is a place that prides itself in being a leader in the community and around the world, and for a school like Harvard to be doing so poorly at getting students to vote, really showed that there is a significant cultural problem when it comes to participating in elections,” said Mike Miesen MPP 2019, a student leader of the Harvard Votes Challenge campaign who worked in the global health field as a freelance journalist before coming to HKS. Miesen was joined by a team of students to coordinate the challenge, including classmate Gwen Camp MC/MPA 2019, a veteran of political races in her home state of Pennsylvania where she served as state director for US Senator Robert Casey and chief of staff for the state treasurer. Camp, who had worked on a number of congressional elections in Pennsylvania as well as Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, knew a thing or two about walking precincts to turn out the vote on Election Day. “We wanted the challenge to be just a really old school organizing effort that would connect our community and unite the Kennedy School around a common goal,” Camp recalled. To track the challenge’s progress, the team asked students to sign up for TurboVote, an online voter registration and election notification tool, which stood in as a proxy for actual voter registrations. The IOP had previously used the tool to register undergraduates to vote, and it also helped that TurboVote’s founders, Kathryn Peters and Seth Flaxman, were both HKS alums [see sidebar page 11]. The website acts as a



clearinghouse for users, connecting them directly with their local board of election or town clerk to register to vote, as well as sending users updates on election deadlines and polling locations. The platform also helped Harvard Votes Challenge organizers know who had signed up to participate in the challenge in real time, allowing Camp, Miesen and other student leaders to see which of their classmates needed further outreach. By organizing among various degree programs at the School, HVC leaders developed outreach strategies to encourage classmates to sign up through TurboVote by tapping influencers, be they fellow students or administrators, to encourage participation. Organizers pitted each of the School’s degree programs against one another in a friendly competition to see which cohort of students could claim the most TurboVote sign-ups. They also tapped faculty to serve as validators for the campaign. “Professors



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see every student at the School and could help get the message out,” said Camp. With campaign leaders scattered in all of the School’s degree programs, faculty urging their students to participate, and administrators throughout HKS echoing the message to register and vote, TurboVote numbers climbed through much of the fall. “Harvard Votes Challenge emerged as a unique opportunity to activate the entire HKS community. It stands as a proud of example of partnership between the HKS institution, faculty, staff, and students, demonstrating a shared vision of civic duty and modeling the democracy we want to see,” said Acuña. An International Affair With nearly half of HKS students hailing from outside of the United States, HVC organizers were keen to engage with the entire student community on the campaign, not just those who happened to be eligible to vote in November. International students helped staff TurboVote sign-up tables and volunteered for community voter registration drives. “We really made sure that the campaign wasn’t going to drive any wedges between Americans and international students or otherwise feel like we were excluding any segment of the community,” said Camp. To that end, the Ash Center engaged with international student groups, and hosted a number of seminars and public discussions about voting participation, election administration, and civic engagement in countries around the world to foster a School-wide dialogue on voting.

Keeping Tabs on Participation Figuring out a mechanism to gauge whether students actually committed to register to vote truly put the ‘challenge’ in the Harvard Votes Challenge. Since detailed voter registration numbers would not be available until months after the November 2018 elections, HVC organizers turned to TurboVote to chart student sign-up figures. TurboVote, an online voter registration and election information portal, was built by Democracy Works, a nonprofit cofounded by HKS alumni Kathryn Peters and Seth Flaxman who both earned their MPPs in 2011. “I’m proud of Harvard’s ongoing leadership in civic engagement on campus,” said Peters, reflecting on the HVC effort to rally the Kennedy School student community in support of voter participation. Keeping track of students who joined the challenge was not the only hurdle that TurboVote helped student leaders tackle. It turns out that registering hundreds of eligible students to vote in Massachusetts or their home states is maddeningly difficult. “We effectively built a voter concierge that lets anyone walk through the registration process so it could be as understandable and welcoming as possible,” describes Peters. For students participating in elections outside of the greater Boston area, actually casting their vote required significant foresight and planning. With different rules governing absentee voting eligibility requirements for each US state and territory, students had to navigate a litany of deadlines and application requirements to receive their absentee ballots. Keeping track of every state would have been impossible for the HVC team. In designing TurboVote, “what we set out to do was track all those rules, track them by geography, and make it possible so that anyone could come and give us their address, and we can say ‘all right, this is how you get registered,’” explained Peters. Beyond its key role in HVC, 3 million voters have signed up for TurboVote through partnerships with more than 300 institutions of higher education and 50 of the most recognizable corporations and nonprofits since the tool launched in 2012.

Kathryn Peters (top) is hopeful that recent upticks in youth civic participation will develop into long-term trends The Kennedy School remains a source of support and inspiration to Democracy Works, cofounded by HKS alumni Peters and Seth Flaxman

“International students were an important part of the campaign, and we wanted to make sure their perspectives were heard and their voices included in everything we did,” said Acuña. Election Day As Election Day neared, organizers could see the number of sign-ups continue to inch closer to the participation goal on a daily basis. “It took a ton of resources, a ton of time, and a ton of hustle,” said Camp, but ultimately the team reached their 90 percent goal with almost two weeks to spare before November 6. Camp and her classmates also worked to make sure that in the run-up to Election Day itself, students had a plan to vote. “If you actually plan out how you’re going to vote, whether it’s casting an early or absentee ballot or just carving out some time from your day to go to the polls, you’re much more likely to vote,” Acuña added.

With the midterms now in the rearview mirror following a 10 percent jump in national youth voter engagement compared to 2014, the HVC organizing team continues to work on the longer-term goal of fostering a University-wide culture of voting and civic engagement. “The next steps are to continue to socialize voting, talk about the success that we had, and develop materials about what we did that other people can use,” said Fung. For Sikkink, she sees a chance for Harvard to lead by declaring Election Day a University holiday: “It should be an opportunity to educate ourselves about democracy.” It is clear that the Harvard Votes Challenge generated a great deal of energy and enthusiasm about voting and civic engagement across the University, with no signs of ebbing anytime soon. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT ASH.HARVARD.EDU/VOTE




Q+A Kathryn Sikkink with

The Ash Center sat down for a conversation with Kathryn Sikkink about her work on voter participation. Sikkink is the Ryan Family Professor of Human Rights Policy at HKS and one of Ash’s newest faculty affiliates. You are known for your work on international human rights issues, but you also helped co-chair the School’s participation in the Harvard Votes Challenge with Archon Fung [a University effort to encourage eligible students to vote; story on page 8]. How did you go from the world of human rights, and the responsibility to protect, to voting? Well, first, I’ve always been interested in human rights. I got interested in human rights as an undergraduate student living in Uruguay during the darkest days of the dictatorship. So I thought a lot about democracy, because Uruguay had been one of the most vibrant and long-lived democracies in Latin America until the coup in 1973. One of my earliest questions was, what happened in Uruguay? How was it that this vibrant democracy had this repressive military government and became known as the torture chamber of Latin America? Part of the answer to that question is that people stopped believing in democracy. And both the left and the right in Uruguay dismissed the importance of democracy. How can a country simply dismiss something as fundamental to its way of life as democracy? The left in Uruguay in the late sixties, early seventies, said it was bourgeois democracy. It was formalistic but it wasn’t delivering radical change. And so they turned to armed revolution. And the right denounced democracy because it was allowing these communists—some were communists—to organize. When I see some people in America today, people like the Antifa, who are advocating violence because they are so disillusioned with our democracy, I get worried, because I’ve seen it before. And I think it’s dangerous. You have started making the argument that, in a democracy, all eligible citizens not only have a right to vote but also a responsibility to do so. I got interested in people being indifferent and not taking seriously their responsibility to vote, especially young people. Young people, as you know, vote at much lower levels than any other age group



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in this country. So I started saying, “We have a right to vote, but also a responsibility to vote.” And I got a lot of pushback because people feel they have a right to vote and they have a right not to vote. What did some of this pushback look like? People fear that when you start talking about individual responsibility, you take the burden off the state for not protecting the right to vote. So, if you talk about responsibility to vote, people suggest you may be ignoring voter suppression. But of course we’re concerned about things that the state must do to improve voter turnout. Of course we’re concerned about suppression. [The reality is that] voter suppression is a conscious and a successful policy in many states in this country. Working on voter turnout has to be as conscious a policy as fighting voter suppression. We just can’t sit back and wait until the state delivers the goods. We also can’t sit back and only lobby the state as if individuals had nothing to do with the problem. We have simultaneous problems that require us to focus on demanding that the state do a better job to respect rights to vote, as well as mobilizing individuals about their responsibility to vote. During the Harvard Votes Challenge, did you see a change in attitude among faculty here—were they more encouraging of their students to vote? In fact, I saw a change in faculty around the country. All of a sudden I’m being asked to sign a petition for Citizens’ Day—to make Election Day a federal holiday. Or to make, at least, Election Day a University holiday. What more could universities do, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels, to really build and to foster this culture of voting, and this responsibility to vote? We should have a University holiday. We need to get rid of Columbus Day, and we need to add Citizens’ Day. Columbus Day is a completely outdated holiday. You can call it Indigenous Peoples’ Day, but we all know it’s celebrating something we really don’t want to celebrate anymore. So let’s turn Columbus Day into Citizens’ Day at the University level. We don’t need to wait for anyone to do that. I think that should be our next campaign. Why? Because Harvard sets an example for universities around this country. So people can say, “Harvard made it Citizens’ Day. All the universities in this country should make Election Day, Citizens’ Day.”

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

“Government is not about politics. It’s about lives” —San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz speaking with students last fall at an event co-organized by the Program on Crisis Leadership

“Only 3.5% of philanthropy is going to environmental protection” —Tony Saich, director of the Ash Center, discussing the state of philanthropy in China at an Ash conference at Harvard Center Shanghai

“How do we expect folks to become contributing members of society if we cut off their way to contribute even when they’re behind bars?” —Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney speaking at HKS last fall about the fight to restore voting rights for felons in Virginia




Working Wonders for Foster Youth Winner of 2018 Innovations in American Government Award builds bridges to careers and opportunity

Heather Hudson, then-executive director of Rhode Island Governor’s Workforce Board (left), and Lisa Guillette, executive director of Foster Forward, present Works Wonders to the Innovations in American Government Award National Selection Committee last September


the United States, nearly 23,000 young people age out of the foster care system every year without having been reunited with their families or placed in permanent homes. Approximately 20 percent of those who leave foster care without a permanent home after turning 18 join the growing ranks of the homeless in cities and towns large and small across the country, according to the National Foster Youth Initiative. Only half will find gainful employment by the time they turn 24. Lisa Guillette, the executive director of Foster Forward, a Rhode Island nonprofit dedicated to foster youth and families, spoke about the millions of young people in the United States who lack connections to either school or work, and painted an even more challenging picture for America’s foster care population: “With our nation’s 400,000 foster youth, most [are] in danger of falling behind.” Guillette was at the Rhode Island State House in Providence this winter, along with Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo, to accept the Ash Center’s 2018 Innovations in American Government Award on behalf of the Works Wonders program, one of the country’s most successful efforts at filling the education, peer support, and job training gap for those who have aged out of—or are about to age out of—foster care. The Innovations in American Government Award is



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the nation’s preeminent recognition for excellence and creativity in the public sector. Launched in 2012, Works Wonders is a partnership between Foster Forward and key state agencies to provide a holistic support system for foster youth that addresses both hard and soft skills. Participants have access to education, peer support, counseling, experiential learning opportunities, and, ultimately, paid jobs, vocational programs, and continued educational opportunities. “Works Wonders is an outstanding program that helps foster kids in Rhode Island reach their full potential,” said Governor Raimondo at the Award ceremony. “Rhode Island is meeting a crucial need for a population that is too often underserved.” Works Wonders’ focus on foster youth sets it apart from other career development programs, as it fills a gap between traditional workforce development programs, which are aimed at adults, and typical youth-centric programs, which assume a level of parental engagement. The program is further differentiated by the unique publicprivate partnership it embodies. “We knew that the biggest predictor of future employment is past experience,” observed Guillette. Works Wonders partners with the Governor’s Workforce Board to give participants access to opportunities with local employers. Participating em-


Award Tackles Social & Economic Inequality

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (right) and Director Scott Jensen, Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (left), join Lisa Guillette in accepting the Innovations Award from the Ash Center’s Stephen Goldsmith

ployers are not only rewarded with a fresh pipeline of talent, but state job development funds provide additional incentives to hire and retain program participants. Works Wonders has achieved significant success in connecting foster youth to jobs and opportunities for education. A recent study showed that 83 percent of participants complete the program and participants are 37 percent more likely to be employed as compared to those who do not participate. “We credit the fact that foster youth were involved in every aspect of our program design and delivery,” says Guillette, speaking about the program’s achievements. “They helped us identify those key barriers that might otherwise be impediments to their successful participation.” “The Works Wonders program has been wonderful for me,” remarked Tobias Bear, a program participant, at the Award ceremony. Works Wonders connected Bear to Harvest Kitchen, a culinary job-training program for youth in Rhode Island. “I cook a lot of my own meals now,” he added, and reflected that, “Works Wonders helped me [become] the person I am today.” Echoing Bear’s sentiments, Amelia Manuso, also a Works Wonders participant, expressed her appreciation for the program, saying, “I want to thank Works Wonders for working with me to find a job. I’m living my best life. It means a lot.” “This particular program, which has done so much good to help young adults get jobs and move on as productive citizens of the state of Rhode Island, is the most extraordinary program we have seen in a long time,” said Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Innovations in American Government Program at the Ash Center. “We hope that this recognition will help the program scale and its award-winning attributes be adopted by other jurisdictions.” The Innovations in American Government Award comes with a $50,000 grant to help Works Wonders disseminate their winning innovation, developing tools and resources to allow other jurisdictions interested in adopting similar programming to replicate their model.

“I want to thank Works Wonders for working with me to find a job. I’m living my best life”

In 2018, hundreds of applicants answered the Innovations in American Government Award call for examples of public programs improving economic and social mobility. The field was winnowed down to seven impressive finalists, representing all levels of government and spanning issues from education to criminal justice. Finalists traveled to Cambridge in September to present their programs to the Award’s National Selection Committee. Afterward, finalists, Harvard Kennedy School faculty, and state and local government officials from around Massachusetts convened for a broader discussion about developing successful programs to curb inequality and scale innovation. Conversation revealed commonalities among the diverse finalist programs. “Many of us are talking about the importance of community engagement,” said Miriam Popper, executive director of diversion initiatives, Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, New York City. “I think we’ve been hearing, from every group, giving a voice to the population that we’re serving is important,” added Anne Stuhldreher, director of financial justice, City and County of San Francisco. “They have a story to tell, and a story that’s worth listening to.” Other key takeaways identified during the afternoon’s discussions included the importance of engaging with youth and discovering the genesis of inequality. Chris Richardson with Denver’s Crisis Intervention and Response Unit ended the day remarking, “In every area of our work—our social work, our education, and our injustice work—we have to continue to take a root cause approach to how we’re going to fix this issue. Not just for the next five years or 10 years, but for our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s lives.”





Ryan Swann:

A Story of Service Just days after Ryan Swann MC/MPA 2019 and his identical twin brother, Bryan MC/MPA 2019, accepted their diplomas in 1998 at Prince George’s County Largo High School in Maryland, the brothers enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve and were en route to basic training in Parris Island, South Carolina. “I come from a large family of veterans and public servants,” says Ryan Swann, recipient of the Ash Center’s 2018–2019 Roy and Lila Ash Fellowship in Democracy, a scholarship that is awarded to a meritorious mid-career student with a proven dedication to democratic governance and public-sector innovation. “I really felt the need to serve.” The brothers planned to finish boot camp, head off to college at the University of Maryland, College Park, and return to the Corps for routine training obligations. In the fall of 2001, during their junior year, however, the attacks of September 11 changed everything. Their unit was activated and, together, they deployed to Iraq during what would have been their senior year at Maryland. “It was a test,” Ryan reflects. “It was a challenging time for my family.” Ryan served one tour in Iraq, and he and his brother returned home safely in early 2005. Of his time in the military, Ryan says, “[It] humbled me and gave me a sense of discipline and leadership and a challenge that I hadn’t experienced before.” Ryan then returned to College Park to finish his degree and, when he left a semester later with a newly minted bachelor’s degree, a Navy Unit Commendation, and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, his career of service would take him in new directions. A New Challenge In 2006, Ryan traded in his uniform for a suit and tie as a senior business intelligence lead at the US Department of the Treasury, working to set up the department’s data analytics capabilities. His task was to use data to improve the Treasury’s internal decision-making processes, a difficult undertaking in the nascent data analytics field. Barely two years into his new role, the 2008 financial crisis took hold. “We realized that [the Treasury] should have been doing more with the data that was being collected and stored,” remembers Ryan. “That was another humbling experience, but I learned a whole lot about the intersection between data and policy.” In 2014, Ryan left the Treasury to join the US General Services Administration’s Office of Government-wide Policy as the organization’s first director of data analytics. “This thing, data as an asset, was new,” says Ryan. Federal data, however, is as old as the republic itself. From handwritten census forms to spreadsheets and PDFs of reports and white papers—data lay siloed across the federal government in innumerable databases, hard drives, websites, and filing cabinets. Orchestrating the convergence of billions of data points, while necessarily breaking 16


Spring 2019

STUDENT PROFILE Ryan’s multipurpose model went beyond allowing agencies to simply understand their current data analytics capacities, but also provided a meaningful roadmap to improve data utilization and a common language for agencies across the federal government to use in talking about common data issues and solutions. The model has been adopted by agencies such as the Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and General Services Administration.

Ryan (left) and Bryan Swann not only joined the mid-career program at HKS together, but, once here, the identical twins enrolled in the same class on digital government with Ash faculty affiliate David Eaves

down barriers within or between federal agencies, to serve the public better, was a daunting task. Luckily, Ryan and his federal colleagues were up to the job. White House Data Cabinet Ryan worked with DJ Patil, the first-ever US Chief Data Scientist, appointed by President Obama, to convene data leaders from across the federal government in a new organization, the White House Data Cabinet. The Data Cabinet’s mission was to improve data governance, data management, and data sharing across federal agencies. “When the president asked something basic like, ‘How many federal buildings are in the federal government?’ That was a really hard question to answer,” recalls Ryan. The Data Cabinet was determined to fix this and help federal policymakers find answers to these relatively elementary questions. The Data Cabinet’s efforts quickly had a tangible impact on government. The group’s analysis and predictive models informed policies like a White House directive under President Obama to help maintain federal leadership in environmental sustainability. Federal Data Maturity Model Further contributing to the federal data community, Swann coauthored the first Federal Data Maturity Model, a framework that agencies can use to assess how well they have integrated data into their organizations, from data analytics to data culture and personnel.

Future Service His experience in the federal government gave Ryan unique insight into the role of technology and data in governance. “Our leaders, our elected officials, and our civil servants have to be able to not only use data but also understand the impact that it has on the policies that we write,” he notes. This ability to reflect broadly on how data deeply impacts governance and public leadership made Ryan an ideal candidate for the Ash Center’s Roy and Lila Ash Fellowship. “We were immediately struck by Ryan’s commitment, expertise, and leadership leveraging data tools and strategies across the federal government. It was clear that Ryan was intimately familiar with the ways that data plays a critical role in driving innovation in government,” said Tim Glynn-Burke, Ash Center Executive Director, Programs. Whether taking a course with digital-government expert David Eaves, an Ash faculty affiliate, or engaging with classmates from all over the world, Ryan has found his Kennedy School experience rewarding. “I came to HKS to build out my public service skills and ask some tough questions to some really smart people,” says Ryan, who is joined on campus by his twin Bryan in the 2018–19 cohort of mid-career students. His time at the Kennedy School is giving him a strong base from which to answer his next call to service. Ryan sees his path leading to public office, whether local or federal. “If the citizens of this great country will elect me, I will serve,” he says, smiling.

“I came to HKS to build out my public service skills and ask some tough questions to some really smart people”

Each year, the Ash Center plays a role in the learning experiences of many Harvard students. Affiliated faculty teach and advise students, develop unique learning materials, and offer re-

Student Opportunities

search and teaching assistant opportunities. The Center also engages students through tuition scholarships, travel grants for capstone and independent research, applied learning opportunities, study groups and workshops, support for student groups and events, and opportunities to connect through a Community Speaker Series. FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT ASH.HARVARD.EDU/FOR-STUDENTS




From Kampala to Cambridge:

Jennifer Musisi knows what it takes to lead high-stakes change in city government

Musisi (right) was often in the field inspecting and advising on public works; here she discusses the reconstruction of Kampala’s Kisekka Road with KCCA engineers Andrew Serunjogi (left) and Dickens Okello

Like most city leaders, Jennifer Musisi, the former municipal head of Kampala, Uganda’s capital city, came into office with plans to shake up how local government did business. She wasn’t afraid to ruffle a few feathers in order to improve how Uganda’s largest metro area, long plagued by corruption and poor administration, provided services to its one and a half million residents. What she didn’t expect was that her pursuit of greater government efficiency and transparency would result in threats on her life. “One time a grenade was found under my car,” said Musisi, speaking to a rapt audience at the Ash Center, where she is the inaugural City Leader in Residence with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, which is housed at the Center. “It was shocking to see the extent to which the resistance could go— blow me up because I’m trying to organize the management and finances of the city.” In December of last year, Musisi stepped down after almost eight years running the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)

where she bolstered city services and overhauled the authority’s finances. “She has a global reputation for strong urban governance, integrity, fighting corruption, organizational leadership, and building service delivery systems in institutions that are crippled by resource constraints and corruption,” said Jorrit de Jong, Lecturer in Public Policy and Management at HKS and faculty director of the Bloomberg Harvard Initiative. A lawyer by training, Musisi was tapped in 1999 to head up the legal department of the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), the country’s principal tax collection agency, which was also rife with corruption and management problems. At the URA, Musisi helped build a team of enthusiastic young civil servants who revamped the agency, ultimately achieving what she termed “an incredible level of tax collection.” She also helped to instill in Ugandans a sense of civic obligation to pay their taxes, which Musisi credited with slashing tax avoidance levels throughout the country. It’s not surprising that after the task of rebuilding the country’s tax collection systems, Musisi thought perhaps she could look forward to a less stressful private-sector job or even a little extra time off. Half-joking, she said, “I thought it would be time to take early retirement. I’m going to private life, make a little money, and just go to the beach.” Her long-awaited seaside sojourn, however, was interrupted in 2010, when Uganda’s parliament passed legislation replacing the Kampala City Council with the KCCA. Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni asked Musisi if she would take the reins of the newly constituted KCCA as its first executive director, a position akin to that of city manager in many North American municipalities. Musisi recalls, “The president, in his words, said ‘help me sort out Kampala.’” With her background building revenue collection and human resources systems for the URA, Musisi set about the undertaking of overhauling Kampala’s municipal government. Even the seemingly straightforward task of tallying up the number

The Ash Center invites scholars, political leaders, and other practitioners into the HKS community, generally selected through a competitive process, for term appointments that offer a host of opportunities to pursue independent or collaborative research projects, enhance their pro-

Fellowship Opportunities

fessional skills, and connect with their peers. In addition to individual research pursuits, fellows audit classes, attend regular research seminars, meet with faculty and students, and contribute to the overall academic life of the Center. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE CENTER’S NUMEROUS FELLOWSHIPS, INCLUDING APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS, SELECTION CRITERIA, AND FUNDING AVAILABILITY, VISIT ASH.HARVARD.EDU/FELLOWSHIPS



Spring 2019

FELLOW PROFILE of active city employees proved to be a challenge. “There were almost no records. No one knew how many staff were in the organization. There were some staff on the payroll. Others were not on the payroll. Others were temporary,” Musisi recalled. Aside from figuring out how many people actually worked for her, Musisi also set about tallying up Kampala’s municipal assets—from real estate to bank accounts. “No one knew how many assets the city had, so every other month we would discover another asset. I would write and say, ‘Hey, this belongs to the city, not you. Can we have it back?’” Musisi chuckled, recalling the delicate and sometimes dangerous conversations to reclaim city property. After pressing Uganda’s central bank to conduct an audit of the city’s various bank accounts, bankers found 151 previously unknown accounts belonging to the KCCA, holding over $13 million—a staggering sum for a city that was at the time collecting only $11 million in annual tax revenues. In contrast, Philadelphia, with a roughly equivalent population, collected $4.6 billion in revenues in its latest fiscal year. To tackle the city’s financial shortfalls, Musisi terminated contracts with revenue agents who were inefficient but, nonetheless, were given, or took, a cut of the tax proceeds they collected on behalf of the city. Needless to say, the old system bred inefficiency and corruption. In the new system, the KCCA made it easier for residents to pay their tax bills directly through the banks and built a modern revenue management system to help with billing, assessing, and payment. Musisi also worked to gain the trust of taxpayers, who, after years of enduring mismanagement and corruption, were at first skeptical that her changes would lead to real and meaningful reforms. “We needed to first of all assure the public that we were there to change things for the better, to serve, and that we’re going to be accountable,” said Musisi. Her plan for building public support was simple: “We worked to make everybody pay and show how those taxes were being used to improve city services.” Five years after Musisi shook up the city’s tax collection system, revenue growth was up over 190 percent. “Because this revenue was coming in, we were able to do more for the public.” While Musisi’s reforms resulted in a growing municipal budget and improved services for everyday Kampala residents, those who previously benefited from the city’s archaic and corrupt tax collection system did not relinquish the status quo easily. “The agents that were collecting taxes for the city were very powerful… and had been collecting the taxes for decades. They felt an entitlement,” said Musisi, looking back at the fight she knew was brewing with beneficiaries of Kampala’s history of corruption and patronage. “They thought I was joking.”

“I don’t consider myself a technocrat in the real sense of the word. I just want to get things done”

It quickly became clear, however, that Musisi was not joking. The revenue agents responded by threatening to take her to court. “Go ahead. I think the law is on my side,” she said. It was, and Musisi and her team soldiered on. When legal challenges failed, “then they started mobilizing the public not to pay because they said we are going to steal the money anyway because it’s always been stolen,” Musisi recalled. “We kept telling the public, “This is what we collected. This is what we used it for.” It worked, and revenue collection numbers increased as Kampala taxpayers were swayed by the KCCA’s transparency and competence in administering city services. The revenue agents, loath to lose their cut of the city’s taxes, next turned to graft, assuming that Musisi and her colleagues would rather line their own pockets and backtrack on their reforms. “They offered me huge bribes, really huge bribes. I said, ‘I always said I don’t do bribes.’” “Then they started threatening our lives,” she said. “Why are they trying to kill me? I’m the good guy here. It was shocking to see the extent to which it could go, with violent attacks targeting my staff because we’re trying to organize the finances of the city.” Her colleagues had guns pulled on them, their homes invaded. Security for Musisi and her team was increased. She told a shaken staff that this was their opportunity to transform Kampala for the better. “The bad guys can’t win. That was what kept us going.” “She went straight for the most critical function of government,” remarked de Jong, referring to Musisi’s decision, after taking the reins of the KCCA, to forgo scoring easy political wins and instead tackle a complex structural issue such as revenue reform. “Without revenues, you can’t do anything, and without addressing the corruption you can never build trust,” he added. Without an increase in revenue, Musisi would never have the funding necessary to address the city’s infrastructure problems, build and renovate schools, improve the quality of public health care, or fix the litany of other urban ails that plagued Kampala. “We knew that without funding we could not do much, and with that funding we could really get the low hanging fruit, begin fixing the city.” Musisi has been hailed as an “incorruptible technocrat” by Uganda’s press for reforming Kampala’s municipal tax collection and procurement policies, but she bristles at the characterization. “I don’t consider myself a technocrat in the real sense of the word. I just want to get things done.” De Jong agrees, “I don’t think the technocrat term really applies because she knew what the tools of government were, how they worked… but a large part of this work of innovation is building trust with the community. It’s that trust that Musisi instilled by standing up to threats and bribes, and by showing residents of Kampala how their hard-earned tax dollars were being used to help improve the city.” Musisi added, “When you have a desire to get things done, you just begin to innovate because you’re looking at the end and then working through whatever you need to work through to reach that end.” FOR MORE INFORMATION, VISIT CITYLEADERSHIP.HARVARD.EDU




Behind the Lens:

Cecily Tyler Is Building a New Generation of Citizen Storytellers With camera equipment often in tow, Cecily Tyler MC/MPA 2016 has been a familiar face at the Ash Center since graduating from the Kennedy School three years ago. Tyler, a documentary filmmaker, has worked with scores of students at the Center since starting to teach videographic essay-making skills as part of Ash Center resident faculty affiliate Jorrit de Jong’s Innovation Field Lab course. For Tyler, the Field Lab served as an exciting—and highly successful—experiment in introducing filmmaking as a pedagogical tool at HKS. “The students are not just sitting in the classroom, consuming information and synthesizing academically, but they’re actually out in the field, learning about how to support and create innovation in the public sector,” Tyler said. She came to the mid-career program at HKS after working as a TV and film producer and later partnering with YouthBuild USA, a nonprofit based in Somerville, Massachusetts, which provides job skills training and counseling services to unemployed young adults. Tyler collaborated with YouthBuild program participants on video projects, observing that “every time you get behind the camera, you have this extraordinary opportunity to learn in ways that you don’t otherwise.” This experience resonated with Tyler, who thought about how she could use graduate school as an opportunity to meld the art of filmmaking with policy-oriented learning, focused on government and social change. “It was pretty clear that HKS was the place I should be to do this,” she recalled. In 2015, Tyler enrolled in the mid-career MPA program and immediately dove into the course offerings at the School. She had heard about de Jong’s Innovation Field Lab (IFL), an experiential learning course supported by the Ash Center that embeds students in a number of medium-sized cities in Massachusetts (and now is expanding to New York State) to help develop and implement policies to combat problem properties. But with a packed course calendar and graduation looming that spring, Tyler was not able to fit the course into her already overloaded schedule.



Spring 2019

That summer, with a newly minted MPA in hand, Tyler was accepted as a fellow at the Harvard i-lab to help incubate and launch a nonprofit to harness filmmaking and technology to create social good called docutribe. Searching out quantitative data analysis for a project she was working on about Boston, an i-lab colleague suggested she connect with de Jong, whose work with the IFL by then had helped build his reputation for deploying innovative pedagogical tools in the classroom. De Jong’s response was to partner with Tyler to help students in the spring 2017 Field Lab create videographic essays in the classroom as a learning tool. Plus, “you’ll end up learning about quantitative data in the end,” Tyler recalled de Jong promising. “So we both went and started figuring out how to bring videographic essay-making into classrooms here at HKS so that students could begin to experience what I experienced over the course of my 25-year profession.” By using smartphones, Tyler transformed IFL students into budding filmmakers by providing them with basic filming and editing lessons, as well as teaching them how to build story and narrative into their films. For Tyler and de Jong, the goal in creating these digital essays was that students would deepen their understanding of the policy problems IFL was hoping to disrupt, including the assumptions hindering new learning and new perspectives on how to address these challenges. In addition to the novelty of using filmmaking as a classroom tool, the two hoped that shooting videos for class would help students internalize what it’s like to “come into a place that you aren’t from and really, truly affect social change.” At the conclusion of that iteration of the Field Lab, a group of students Tyler had worked with voiced that they wanted to continue their essay-making, which prompted her to start a not-for-credit study group to make available the trainings for students from across the University community. “We had 20 individual teams of filmmakers working on projects as diverse as public health, racism, and economic inequality as part of the study group,” recalled Tyler. “I was incredibly impressed with what these students created. We all know that to even find an extra ten minutes of time while getting a degree at Harvard is a challenge. They found the time to learn something they weren’t expert in and made amazing videos.” The media world, Tyler points out, is undergoing an upheaval. Print and television journalism is in the midst of dramatic disruption, and new technologies are democratizing the creation and distribution of content. By training a new generation of citizen journalists and storytellers, albeit with smartphones as opposed to pad and pen, Tyler hopes she can “put the right tools into the hands of people who can tell stories and drive social change.”


Civic Engagement in Scandinavia:

Volunteering, Informal Help and Giving in Denmark, Norway and Sweden

Playing by the Informal Rules: Alan Brinkley: Cultural Backlash: Trump, Brexit, and Authoritarian Populism

Pippa Norris, Paul McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics, and Ronald Inglehart CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2019

Authoritarian-populist parties have advanced in many countries and entered government in states as diverse as Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, and Switzerland. Even small parties can still shift the policy agenda, as demonstrated by the UK Independence Party’s role in catalyzing Brexit. Drawing on new evidence, Cultural Backlash advances a general theory why the silent revolution in values triggered a backlash fueling support for authoritarian-populist parties and leaders in the US and Europe. The conclusion highlights the dangers of this development and what could be done to mitigate the risks to liberal democracy.

A Life in History

Edited by Moshik Temkin, Associate Professor of Public Policy, David Greenberg, and Mason B. Williams COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2019

Alan Brinkley: A Life in History brings together essays on the American historian’s major works and ideas, as well as personal reminiscences from leading historians and thinkers beyond the academy whom Brinkley collaborated with, befriended, and influenced. Together, the 17 essays that form this book chronicle the life and thought of a working historian, the development of historical scholarship in our time, and the role that history plays in our public life. At a moment when Americans are pondering the plight of their democracy, this volume offers a timely overview of a consummate student—and teacher—of the American political tradition.

Why the Chinese Regime Remains Stable despite Rising Protests

Edited by Kristin Strømsnes, Ash Center Democracy Visiting Fellow from University of Bergen, Lars Skov Henriksen, and Lars Svedberg

Yao Li, Ash Center China Public Policy Postdoctoral Fellow (2016–18) CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2019

Growing protests in non-democratic countries are often seen as signals of regime decline. China, however, has remained stable amid surging protests. Playing by the Informal Rules highlights the importance of informal norms in structuring state-protester interactions, mitigating conflict, and explaining regime resilience. Drawing on a nationwide dataset of protest and multi-sited ethnographic research, this book presents a bird’s-eye view of China’s contentious politics. Through examinations of protests and their distinct implications for regime stability, Li offers a novel theoretical framework suitable for monitoring the trajectory of political contention in China and beyond, providing fresh perspectives on power and resistance in modern societies.


Despite great international interest in the Scandinavian region, Civic Engagement in Scandinavia argues that the civil societies and the civic engagement of these countries remain poorly understood. Most interest in the Scandinavian welfare models addresses the balance between state and market, but fails to appreciate fully the roles played by civil society and popular engagement in associations and voluntary organizations. This volume offers a coherent portrait of stability and change in formal and informal forms of civic engagement over the past 25 years as well as offering contextualized knowledge of the history and institutional design in which Scandinavian civil societies are embedded.



Harvard Votes Challenge


The Harvard Votes Challenge is a nonpartisan, Universitywide effort that is challenging Harvard schools to do their part to increase voter registration and participation among eligible students.


of all eligible voters at Harvard Kennedy School joined the Harvard Votes Challenge



HKS students joined the challenge out of a total of

of young voters were estimated to have turned out to vote in 2018 in comparison to




of young voters who turned out in 2014

eligible voters

Based on estimates from the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE) at Tufts University, February 2019

Percent of HVC Participants Among the Various Degree Programs at HKS






MPP Year One

MPP Year Two




Journey to 90% September


25% of students joined the challenge

26 22


Spring 2019

by the numbers

66% of students joined


“We set this goal to test the proposition that if a community, campus, or organization really sets its sights on the ambitious civic goal of registering nearly everyone, it can be done”

IOP poll found nearly

of young Americans have more fear than hope about the future of democracy in America

Institute of Politics (IOP) Youth Poll Spring 2018

Other Harvard graduate schools drove their own voter registration efforts including the Graduate School of Education, Harvard Divinity School, and T.H. Chan School of Public Health

—Archon Fung

Historic Midterm Youth Turnout Estimate

CIRCLE Analysis of Census Current Population Survey







24% 20%

0% 1994







CIRCLE Analysis of the 2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, August 2018 **Based on day-of estimates


Election Day 2018

12 10

89% of students joined

86% of students joined


Over 90% of students joined



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