Fall 2019 Volume 24
Manchester’s Joyce Craig
China’s Toilet Revolution
Campaigning for Democracy
The mayor of the Granite State’s largest city is working with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative to combat homelessness
Lin Wei advances bathroom access and equity with help from Ash executive education program on philanthropy in China
Ryan Pierannunzi MPP ’19 takes democracy reform from the classroom to the campaign trail
Welcome from the Director
As students arrive back on campus each fall and classes get underway, it’s always exciting to hear stories about summer experiences, be they travel, research projects, or field learning. At the Ash Center, we’ve long recognized the importance of these experiential learning opportunities and are proud to have worked with hundreds of students over the years to help them apply their classroom learning to the world of practice. For the second year, the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative (BHCLI), housed here at the Center, supported an impressive cohort of students in spending their summers working with mayors and senior city leaders around the world. In our cover story, read about how, a little closer to home, Amanda Hallock MPP 2020 and Allen Lien DrPH spent their summers working with Mayor Joyce Craig of Manchester, New Hampshire, who is tackling homelessness in her city by leveraging data and evidence to improve outcomes. Craig was a student herself, as a member of the second cohort of mayors participating in BHCLI’s yearlong curriculum designed to equip mayors and senior city officials with the skills, tools, and techniques to tackle the leadership and management challenges they face in their cities. Elsewhere in this issue, we speak with Lin Wei, a past student of mine from the Executive Leaders in Philanthropy training program, and learn about his efforts to improve bathroom access and equity in China. We also hear from recent graduate Ryan Pierannunzi, 2019 winner of the Ash Center’s Mauzy Award for the Advancement of Democratic Governance, who talks about his experience as a student leader in the Harvard Votes Challenge; and Professor Jane Mansbridge, reflecting on her pioneering work to help develop the new academic field of legislative negotiation. There are many more stories in this issue, all helping to illustrate the dynamic and collaborative intellectual community here at the Ash Center. I’d like to extend an especially warm welcome to new students and encourage you to stop by the Center for one of our many events or to meet with our faculty, fellows, and staff.
ASH CENTER FOR DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND INNOVATION
Tony Saich Director, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation Daewoo Professor of International Affairs Harvard Kennedy School
Harvard Kennedy School 79 John F. Kennedy Street Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138 (617) 495-0557 | ash.harvard.edu DIRECTOR Tony Saich EXECUTIVE EDITOR Jessica Engelman ASSOCIATE EDITOR Sarah Grucza ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR FOR COMMUNICATIONS Daniel Harsha DESIGNER Katie Vinci ART DIRECTOR Melissa Winslow Axelrod PHOTOGRAPHY American Repertory Theatre (A.R.T) Raychel Casey Evgenia Eliseeva Tilly Grimes Sarah Grucza Neal Hamberg Martha Stewart Xenia Viragh Copyright ©2019 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
“Quite honestly, when I was sworn in, I entered this office and it was completely empty. There’s no training on how to become a mayor” Harvard students Allen Lien DrPH 2020 (left) and Amanda Hallock MPP 2020 (right) at Manchester’s city hall, where they have spent months working alongside Mayor Joyce Craig and her team helping the city find new solutions to address homelessness
Joyce — Craig, mayor of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative participant
In This Issue NEWS
4 The Big Picture: Naturalization Ceremony at Kennedy School
Interested in Becoming a 2020 Campaign Staffer? Dutch Leonard Brings Hamilton into the Classroom Understanding Why Democracies Take Root in Hard Places
Democracy Reform from the Classroom to the Campaign Trail
22 Q+A with Jane Mansbridge
11 6 New Faculty Affiliates Pippa Norris Honored by APSA Expanding Harvard Votes Challenge
7 From the Streets of Cairo: Tarek Masoud helps bring the sounds of the Egyptian revolution to Harvard Square
Democracy Entrepreneurs Gather at Kennedy School Candelaria Garay and Jorrit de Jong Win Recognition for Journal Articles
12 Recent Publications from Ash Scholars PEOPLE
14 Ensuring All Detroiters Benefit from the Motor City’s Revival
24 A Tale of Two Countries: Green Activism in China and Russia
26 China’s Toilet Revolution
27 Office Hours with Chris Robichaud
16 A New Approach in City Hall
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Joins Ash EU Votes: A Challenge to Boston-Based European Students
9 Breaking New Ground for Education in Vietnam ash.harvard.edu
The Big Picture Forty-three people from 25 countries, representing almost every continent, took the oath of allegiance and became US citizens during the first-ever naturalization ceremony held at Harvard Kennedy School. As part of the May 13 event, organized by the Ash Center, America’s newest citizens fulfilled their first civic duty and registered to vote following the ceremony with the help of Ash Center staff and Harvard Kennedy School students.
Archon Fung, Winthrop Laflin McCormack Professor of Citizenship and Self-Government, left those assembled with these thoughts:
“It is an audacious proposition. How can more than 300 million citizens who are free and equal, who have so many different cultures, faiths, beliefs, backgrounds, and ideals, govern ourselves better than societies ruled by leaders, classes, or families, who hold themselves out to be especially wise, benevolent, or true? “Today, in becoming Americans, you joined with hundreds of millions of us who are betting that democracy is the best form of government. I believe deeply that is the best bet to make.”
New Faculty Affiliates Erica Chenoweth Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at HKS and a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study Chenoweth’s research focuses on political violence and its alternatives. Her next book is titled Civil Resistance: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford, forthcoming 2020).
Megan Ming Francis Visiting Associate Professor of Public Policy Francis specializes in the study of American politics, with broad interests in criminal punishment, black political activism, philanthropy, and the post-Civil War South.
Kimberlyn Leary Associate Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health Leary’s research and work spans both public policy and public health, focusing on leadership, teamwork, change management, and collaborative problem-solving within organizations.
Joseph Kalt Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Emeritus Kalt is director of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (see page 8). His research focuses on exploring the economic implications and political origins of the government regulation of markets.
Zoe Marks Lecturer in Public Policy Marks’s research and teaching interests focus on the intersections of conflict and political violence; race, gender, and inequality; peacebuilding; and African politics.
Pippa Norris Recognized for Lasting Contribution to the ‘Art of Government’ Ash faculty affiliate Pippa Norris, Paul F. McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics, received the American Political Science Association’s 2019 Charles E. Merriam Award at the association’s August convening in Washington, DC. The biennial prize recognizes a person “whose published work and career represent a significant contribution to the art of government through the application of social science research.” Norris, a prolific author and widely cited scholar, focuses her work on democracy, public opinion and elections, political communications, and gender politics. Her most recent book, Cultural Backlash (Cambridge University Press, 2019), coauthored with Ronald Inglehart, examines the rise of authoritarian populism in the US and Europe. She directs the Electoral Integrity Project and also teaches at the University of Sydney.
Ash & IOP Win Backing to Expand Harvard Votes Challenge The Ash Center and the Institute of Politics (IOP) at HKS were jointly selected by the Harvard University President’s Administrative Innovation Fund (PAIF) to help expand the reach of Harvard Votes Challenge, a nonpartisan, Universitywide effort to encourage voter participation. Created in advance of the 2018 midterm elections, the Challenge succeeded in signing up over 90 percent of eligible HKS students to commit to voting. “Last year, we successfully deployed a voter engagement strategy across Harvard for the first time in the School’s history. Support from PAIF will be crucial to building on the work we accomplished in the Harvard Votes Challenge and improve our reach to students, staff, and faculty—making sure everyone has a voice in our democracy,” said Teresa Acuña, associate director of the Center’s Democratic Governance Program, who, along with Rob Watson, the IOP’s director of Student Programs, made the case on behalf of Harvard Votes Challenge to PAIF. Ash and the IOP will use the additional funding to support a civic engagement campaign across the twelve degree-granting schools of Harvard. Specifically, the Challenge will focus on lowering the barriers to voting through voter education and access efforts, energizing voters, and shifting campus culture through a series of creative and innovative events.
A model of the set designed by Tilly Grimes shows how stone walls and graffiti art were used to transport the audience to Cairo
From the Streets of Cairo Tarek Masoud helps bring the sounds of the Egyptian revolution from Tahrir Square to Harvard Square
This spring, Ash resident faculty affiliate Tarek Masoud traded the classroom for the stage as he worked with the writers and directors of We Live in Cairo, a musical set during the 2011 protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the tumultuous years that followed in Egypt, making its world premiere at Harvard’s American Repertory Theater in Cambridge. For Masoud, Professor of Public Policy and Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations, the chance to apply his scholarship of the Arab Spring and the fate of democratization efforts in the Middle East to such a topically relevant production at the A.R.T. was an opportunity he could not pass up. “As academics, we speak in disciplinary language to disciplinary audiences. The arts are completely different in that they are meant to appeal broadly. A work of art about the Egyptian revolution can get people to care about it in a way that pure scholarship never could,” said Masoud.
Masoud (above left) at the A.R.T. discussed central themes of the play following a June 1 performance, including the role of social media in Egypt’s revolution
We Live in Cairo does not just provide a unique and vivid retelling of Tahrir Square and its aftermath but also demonstrates to audience members the depth and durability of the democratic yearnings that are held by young people in Egypt and in the Arab world more broadly. Even as the country has sunk back into the clutches of authoritarianism, Masoud observed, “the desires and passions that created that dramatic revolution still exist, and they remain unfulfilled.”
According to Masoud, “Many around the world have come to view the so-called Arab Spring as a failure, and have written off the prospects for Arab democracy. We Live in Cairo reminds us that the Arab Spring was a process, that it is still ongoing, and that the people who sparked it are not going away.”
“Harvard researchers estimate that asking about citizenship would reduce the number of Latinos reported in the 2020 Census by approximately 6 million, or around 12 percent of the Latino population, based on 2010 figures” —Professors Matthew Baum and Maya Sen, along with their coauthors, investigated the potential impact of adding a citizenship question to the 2020 Census The Monkey Cage blog, Washington Post, April 22, 2019
“It is probably the grandest attempt at storytelling that we have seen in the postBretton Woods era” — Edward Cunningham, director of Ash Center China Programs, discussing China’s Belt and Road Initiative NPR, April 26, 2019
Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development Joins Ash Earlier this summer, Ash Center Director Tony Saich announced that the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development (known as the ‘Harvard Project’) joined the Center. The Harvard Project was founded in 1987 and works to understand and foster the conditions under which sustained, self-determined social and economic development is achieved among American Indian nations and indigenous communities worldwide. Project cofounder and director Joseph Kalt, Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy, Emeritus, said, “Over the years, our work has increasingly focused on good self-governance as key to strengthening indigenous communities. This emphasis makes for a perfect fit with the Ash Center.” With Kalt recently transitioning to emeritus status, the Harvard Project’s leadership and stakeholders began a series of discussions last year about the project’s future and how it might continue to flourish at Harvard. The project collaborates with its sister program, the Native Nations Institute at the University of Arizona, which will assume some of the project’s leadership education and research activities. The Harvard Project’s flagship program, Honoring Nations, directed by Megan Minoka Hill, has enjoyed longstanding partnership with the Ash Center’s Innovations in American Government Awards program. Both national awards programs have been a force in recognizing and promoting excellence and creativity in local governance and the public sector. “We’re thrilled that the Harvard Project will be joining the Ash community, which we hope will lead to added opportunities to collaborate with the faculty and staff of the Ash Center’s Innovations and other programs and initiatives,” said Saich.
EU Votes: A Challenge to Boston-Based European Students In 2014, elections for the European Parliament saw the lowest-ever turnout in the history of the European Union, with only 42.6 percent of voters turning up at the polls to cast a ballot. In the spring of 2019, with new elections fast approaching, European students at Harvard Kennedy School noticed a similar apathy among peers. “There was a feeling of a low level of engagement in European elections and a lack of knowledge about what we were going to vote for,” said Gaia van der Esch MPA 2020, an Italian student and president of the HKS European Club. “We needed to do something about it.” Inspired by the Harvard Votes Challenge, a University-wide voter engagement initiative launched at HKS in the fall of 2018 in advance of the US midterm elections, van der Esch and fellow HKS 8
students helped organize the Europe Votes Challenge. The Challenge, supported by the Ash Center and resident faculty affiliate Muriel Rouyer, hosted debates and discussions about key European issues and encouraged Boston-based European students to pledge to vote. Other schools at Harvard and neighboring universities, including MIT and Tufts, joined the campaign and competed to connect with the most students. By the time polls across Europe opened on May 23, hundreds of Europeans in Boston had pledged to vote as part of the Challenge. Provisional results in Europe showed an eight-percentage-point increase in voter participation, the highest turnout in an EU parliamentary election in 20 years.
Vallely in Ho Chi Minh City Helps Break New Ground for Education in Vietnam On June 5, 2019, Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV)—Vietnam’s first nonprofit, independent university—broke ground on a 37-acre flagship campus in Saigon High Tech Park in Ho Chi Minh City. Tommy Vallely, the Ash Center’s senior advisor for mainland Southeast Asia and a leading force in the creation of FUV, spoke at the ceremony for the new campus and reflected on the Fulbright school’s mission, remarking, “The campus that will take shape on these foundations over the next several years will, I believe, embody [our] commitment to innovation, learning, and service to society.” Almost exactly 25 years earlier, five miles from the FUV site, Vallely was also present when Harvard celebrated the opening for the Fulbright Economic Teaching Program (FETP), a partnership between Harvard Kennedy School and the University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City. In its early days, FETP was housed in what Vallely describes as a “one room schoolhouse.” Despite these humble
Vallely (right) examines the planned new FUV campus with the Deputy Mayor of Ho Chi Minh City Le Thanh Liem (middle)
beginnings, FETP quickly grew to become a vital part of the Vietnamese higher education system. In 2016, when the Vietnamese government granted a license to FUV, preparations began for FUV to take over the work of FETP. Ash Center staff, including Vallely, were critical to transitioning FETP’s programming to the new school. Today, the Ash Center’s Vietnam Program works closely with FUV faculty on research collaboration and exchange in addition to its flagship Vietnam Executive Leadership Program. “We now know much more about how people learn than we did at FETP’s groundbreaking in 1994,” Vallely reflected. “I’m looking forward to watching as the new FUV campus takes shape and becomes a space where teaching, learning, creating, and making takes place 24/7.”
Interested in Becoming a 2020 Campaign Staffer? HKS students and political campaign veterans Gwen Camp, Megan Costello, Tahra Goraya, and Jonathan Sclarsic, all MC/MPA 2019, joined Teresa Acuña MC/MPA 2017, associate director of the Ash Center’s Democratic Governance Program, to lead a two-part skill-building workshop in April for students interested in hitting the campaign trail. Students shared their firsthand experiences, including these top tips: 1. Y ou have to be passionate about the candidate. Whether it’s a presidential candidate or city council race, your enthusiasm will show to prospective voters and fuel you on long days.
2. B e flexible and don’t expect to do just one job.
3. J ust do it. The first step is to reach out and get involved.
Campaigns run lean, and that means staffers may have to pitch in on multiple tasks, from communications to finance. Having soft skills, like organizational and leadership abilities, can be just as, if not more, important for any job. Campaigns need volunteers and often a volunteer position can turn into a full-time paid job.
Dutch Leonard Brings Hamilton into the Classroom Professor Herman “Dutch” Leonard, an Ash Center affiliate who teaches at both Harvard Kennedy School and Business School, often plays a song at the start of class to spark discussion. The first time he played a refrain from the hit Broadway musical Hamilton, a production about the life of American Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, he knew he was on to something. “It generated an especially lively discussion,” Leonard recalled. “I looked at some of the other songs [from the musical] and realized that there were many that contained interesting lessons or suggestions or assertions about leadership.” Leonard began incorporating songs from Hamilton into his teaching for executive education programs, alumni reunions, and other University gatherings. Participants often have unique takeaways from these unexpected musical introductions. For Leonard, one of those insights is about the situational nature of leadership advice. “Hamilton tells us to plunge ahead and go for it. [Aaron] Burr says to be coy and wait for it. And Eliza [Hamilton’s wife] says to figure out when enough is enough. All three of those are right, but at different times,” he said. “Can we tell when is the right time for each?”
“It generated an especially lively discussion”
Understanding Why Democracies Take Root in Hard Places
Ash Center resident faculty affiliates Tarek Masoud (above right) and Scott Mainwaring hosted a group of the nation’s leading comparative politics scholars this spring to share and critique working papers examining the conditions where democracy unexpectedly takes root and thrives. Visiting campus to take part in the Center’s Democracy in Hard Places conference, close to 20 participants presented papers examining the state of democracies in countries as far afield as Benin, Mongolia, and Indonesia. “This was the first time really that there has ever been an explicit gathering of scholars who study different parts of the world all focusing on this central question about what have been the ingredients that have led to these improbable democracies in these different places,” said Masoud. Participants debated the role that individual actors, as opposed to institutions or cultures, played in allowing these democracies to develop despite inhospitable political environments. Masoud and Mainwaring will continue to hone many of the ideas presented at the conference, with plans to publish an edited volume featuring a number of the papers presented. “When you look around the world, it’s an incredibly important issue because democracy does sometimes survive against the odds—and understanding what makes that happen is both fascinating and important for understanding the world,” said Mainwaring.
“This was the first time really that there has ever been an explicit gathering of scholars who study different parts of the world all focusing on this central question…”
Democracy Entrepreneurs Gather at HKS March 1–3, the Ash Center cohosted the Democracy Entrepreneurship Conference, which brought together democracy advocates, policymakers, philanthropists, academics, and journalists at HKS. The unique event helped attendees build connections, learn about innovative organizing strategies, and understand how best to tap into newfound energy directed toward strengthening US democratic institutions. On the first night, poet and performer Regie Gibson (below) delivered a piece crafted for the occasion. An excerpt follows:
Listen to that democratic voice that called us here today. That insistent one, that constantly whispering one that says to you and to our country: “Listen. You beautiful, tiny things who are part of the bigness of all things. Listen, you beings of instinct who come here seeking a community.” Sense that rumbling beneath your breath and tongue, telling you to speak that password primeval, to give the sign of democracy. Telling you to un-manacle the mind, to unshackle the heart. To know that every atom belonging to one, belongs to all. Though it’s true that we be small, we be fierce. Though we bang our heads up against the wall. If we hold each other up, we can’t fall.
Candelaria Garay and Jorrit de Jong Win Recognition for Journal Articles The Latin American Studies Association presented Associate Professor Candelaria Garay with the 2019 Best Article Prize in the Economics and Politics Section for writing “Redistribution Under the Right in Latin America: Electoral Competition and Organized Actors in Policymaking” along with her coauthor Tasha Fairfield. Published in the December 2017 issue of Comparative Political Studies, the authors argue that competition for support from low-income voters, under both left- and right-wing governments, plays an important role in driving redistribution policies in Latin America. Social movement mobilization, in turn, plays a critical role in bringing redistributive initiatives to life, despite conservative governments’ preferences, by countering business power and reordering political priorities to favor social peace and future elections.
Jorrit de Jong, senior lecturer and faculty director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, along with former Ash Senior Fellow Herman Bolhaar, Martijn Groenleer, and Maurits Waardenburg, won the 2019 Chester Newland Award from the American Society for Public Administration for best “Viewpoint” article in Public Administration Review. “Evidence‐Based Prevention of Organized Crime: Assessing a New Collaborative Approach,” which appeared in the March/ April 2018 issue of the journal, details efforts of the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (DPPS) to evaluate and improve its fight against human trafficking and highlights both the data-driven measurement and collaboration efforts undertaken by the DPPS.
Public Value: Deepening,
Enriching, and Broadening the Theory and Practice
Edited by Mark H. Moore (Ash Center), Adam Lindgreen, Nicole Koenig-Lewis, Martin Kitchener, John D. Brewer, and Timo Meynhardt ROUTLEDGE, 2019
The concept of public value, first coined by Mark Moore in 1995, has since emerged in both business and public life in measuring and assuring resources invested against outcomes generated. This volume deepens and broadens the theory of creating public value and explores the challenge and opportunity that public value poses to social science and universities. It updates and refreshes public value as a concept at a time of great urgency due to increasing financial pressure, changing social attitudes and public expectations, and increasingly complicated models for collaborative forms of service delivery.
North Korea: Peace? Nuclear War? Edited by William H. Overholt, Senior Research Fellow, Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government; Ash Center Senior Research Fellow (2008–13) MOSSAVAR-RAHMANI CENTER FOR BUSINESS AND GOVERNMENT, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL, 2019
This volume, cosponsored by the Ash Center, provides fresh views by leading experts of the Korean nuclear crisis, how it might be solved, and the exceptional difficulties of any solution. The experts, representing all viewpoints, parties, and countries involved (except North Korea itself) disagree with each other on many issues. And, while they do agree that instant denuclearization of North Korea is impossible, the book does show that there is a path to peace. Contributors include Ash Center faculty Dwight Perkins whose chapter addresses the “Development Strategies Available to North Korea and Their Political Risks.”
“Companies encouraging voter participation do so because senior leadership believes the effort is
China’s Most Generous:
Sofia Gross and Ashley Spillane
The Power of Companies to Increase Voter Turnout
ASH CENTER FOR DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND INNOVATION, JUNE 2019
Sofia Gross and Ashley Spillane MC/ MPA 2018 worked with Archon Fung, director of the Ash Center’s Democratic Governance Program, to author a case study this summer examining the voter participation initiatives of eight companies. Gross, a 2018–2019 Technology and Democracy Fellow at the Ash Center from Snap, Inc., and Spillane, former president of Rock the Vote and past recipient of the Roy and Lila Ash Fellowship, found that the companies’ civic engagement strategies for the 2018 midterm elections not only helped get voters to the polls but also created additional business value. Fung spoke at a rollout event for the paper in Washington, DC, in June featuring actress Kerry Washington and corporate leaders who have encouraged their workforces and customers to vote.
Understanding China’s Philanthropic Landscape ASH CENTER FOR DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND INNOVATION, APRIL 2019
The second report from the Ash Center’s China Philanthropy Project unveiled new insights about the state of philanthropy in China in 2017. The report, authored by Edward Cunningham, director of the Center’s China Programs, includes a list of China’s top 100 donors, including individuals and corporations, as well as a “generosity index” that ranks individual’s donations as a percentage of their publicly disclosed worth. The China Philanthropy Project’s database of Chinese philanthropists, giving, and recipient organizations is the first such independent and verified dataset available. This new report continues to serve as a critical resource for academic, media, and nonprofit organizations.
not only good for democracy, but also good for business” —Sofia Gross and Ashley Spillane, authors, Civic Responsibility
To Serve the People:
Income, Region and Citizen Attitudes towards Governance in China (2003–2016) Jesse Turiel, Edward Cunningham, and Tony Saich
Do Perceptions of Electoral Malpractice Undermine Democratic Satisfaction?
The US in Comparative Perspective Pippa Norris
THE CHINA QUARTERLY, APRIL 2019
INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEW, 2019
Jesse Turiel, a postdoctoral fellow at the Ash Center, along with coauthors Edward Cunningham, director of the Center’s China Programs, and Tony Saich, director of the Center, published in the China Quarterly the results of a 13-year public opinion survey project led by Saich. The authors found that the satisfaction gap between privileged and more marginalized populations in China regarding how they are governed is beginning to close. The authors posit that this trend is due in large part to relatively recent efforts to rebalance the gains of economic growth and shift resources towards the populations most overlooked during China’s first few decades of reform.
Doubts about the legitimacy of the 2016 US elections continue to reverberate and deepen partisan mistrust in America. This issue raises broader questions: how serious do perceived electoral flaws have to be to raise doubts not just about the election but about democracy itself? Do ordinary people actually care about the quality of their elections or are they more concerned with jobs, growth, and taxes and more influenced by partisan cues? And how do attitudes vary among electoral winners and losers? The key findings of this new research from Ash affiliate Pippa Norris, based on World Values Survey data, are that doubts about electoral integrity do indeed undermine general satisfaction with how democracy works.
Can Transparency and Accountability Programs Improve Health? Jean Arkedis, Jessica Creighton, Akshay Dixit, Archon Fung, Stephen Kosack, Dan Levy, and Courtney Tolmie HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL, MAY 2019
Investigators from the Ash Center and other institutions assess the impact of a transparency and accountability program designed to improve maternal and newborn health (MNH) outcomes in Indonesia and Tanzania. The program sought to encourage community participation to address barriers to care for pregnant women and infants. The impact of this program is evaluated through randomized controlled trials involving 100 treatment and 100 control communities in each country. It is found that, on average, this program did not have a statistically significant impact on the use or content of MNH services, nor civic efficacy of or civic participation in the communities. The assessment of the program’s investigators is that few communities were able to traverse the complex causal paths from planning actions to accomplishing tangible improvements in access to quality MNH care.
New Case Studies:
Paradoxes of Collaborative Governance:
Transparency and Technology for Better Health Elena Fagotto, Director of Research, Transparency Policy Project ASH CENTER FOR DEMOCRATIC GOVERNANCE AND INNOVATION, 2019
The Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health explores how digital technology and the flow of data and information create new roles for patients, enabling them to play a more active part in their health. The project has published three case studies; the first investigates a peer-to-peer community for breast cancer patients, while the other two look at initiatives to spur greater involvement of patients in health care improvement efforts and in research that is meaningful to them.
transparencyfor health.ash.harvard. edu/casestudies
Investigating the Real-Life Dynamics of Multi-Agency Collaborations Using a Quasi-Experimental Action-Research Approach Jorrit de Jong (Ash Center), Maurits Waardenburg, Martijn Groenleer, and Bas Keijser PUBLIC MANAGEMENT REVIEW, MAY 2019
Public agencies increasingly seek to collaborate, realizing that no individual agency alone holds the key to resolving complex societal problems. While agencies are driven to work together, collaborative governance presents its own challenges. To better understand these challenges and help design more effective multi-agency collaborations, Ash affiliate Jorrit de Jong and coauthors studied eight multi-agency crime-fighting collaborations in the Netherlands. They found that collaborators were often presented with a set of contradictory demands. Collaborators that were able to make progress transcended the paradoxes by adopting a ‘both/and’ rather than an ‘either/or’ mindset.
Ensuring All Detroiters Benefit from the Motor City’s Revival Six years after emerging from the largest municipal bankruptcy in American history, construction cranes once again dot Detroit’s skyline and large-scale investment is flowing into scores of high-end commercial and residential developments throughout the city. Ford is in the midst of remaking Detroit’s once grand but long since decrepit Michigan Central Station into a hub for tech-savvy workers and engineers working on autonomous vehicle projects. Detroit native and Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert has snapped up dozens of landmark properties in the city’s downtown core and surrounding neighborhoods, churning out hundreds of thousands of feet of highend office space and gleaming luxury residential units. Without a doubt, the Motor City has come a long way since the auto industry
Ofori (left) and Pohorelsky at HKS
cratered, sparking an investment and population exodus that brought what was once the nation’s fourth-largest city to its knees. But just a few miles away from the gleaming downtown towers of General Motors’ headquarters in the Renaissance Center, it becomes all too apparent that the city has amassed thousands of vacant commercially zoned real estate parcels across Detroit, many of them along key urban corridors with significant unmet retail needs. “Many of these properties came into the city’s ownership through tax foreclosure, and the city hopes to get them back into productive use,” explained Kyle Ofori MPP/MUP 2019. With funding from the Ash Center and Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, Ofori and HKS classmate Jana Pohorelsky MPP 2019 spent the better
part of the past academic year working with the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC), a quasi-public development agency, to understand how the city is working to dispose of this accumulated commercial real estate portfolio while ensuring that Detroiters equitably benefit in the city’s economic rebirth. With the largest proportion of African Americans of any major city in the country, city officials and community organizations have made clear that Detroit residents and small-business people alike must have the opportunity to benefit from the city’s revitalization. Speaking of many of the city’s longtime residents who weathered decades of disinvestment, DEGC CEO Kevin Johnson emphasized he is committed to a more equitable future for Detroit’s residents: “Their stories are critically important as we work together to accelerate growth and ensure that the benefits of growth are accessible to everyone.” With DEGC as their Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE) client, Ofori and Pohorelsky partnered with the agency to help improve not only how it disposes of its commercial real estate portfolio but also the process that determines who ultimately gets to own or use those properties. With investments being made in commercial corridors scattered well beyond the downtown core, advocates and community organizations want to ensure that all Detroiters have the opportunity to participate in the city’s resurgence. “We wanted to make sure that emerging developers, especially developers of color, as well as small-business owners, can take advantage of these opportunities,” said Pohorelsky. One of their first recommendations was to better publicize the process by which the city puts some of its accumulated commercial real estate holdings on the market. “For first-time developers, navigating the city’s real estate disposition process can be a real challenge,” said Ofori. “We thought that if the real estate sales process were demystified and properties more visibly marketed to the public, Detroiters looking to break into the market would have a better opportunity to successfully launch commercial development projects,” Pohorelsky added. Before starting their PAE, Ofori and Pohorelsky were keenly aware of the importance of using data to inform the local government decision-making process. The pair served as coordinators for the Innovation Field Lab, an experiential learning course conceived of
Capstone Project Support
and co-taught by Ash Center faculty affiliate Jorrit de Jong along with Joe Curtatone, mayor of Somerville, Massachusetts, and an Ash senior fellow, which helps implement data-driven solutions to combating blight in a number of cities in Massachusetts. The experience working with department heads and other cities leaders as part of the Field Lab convinced the two that refining Detroit’s datacollection efforts would be key to more equitably guiding the city’s real estate disposition efforts. “They could start by collecting data systematically on applicants working to purchase commercial real estate as well as analyzing previous data to understand if minority and female developers have access to the real estate disposition process. The data could also illustrate where these applicants might be encountering barriers in the development pipeline,” said Pohorelsky. The team also made recommendations for better matching potential developers to available real estate parcels owned by the city as well as to resources such as low-interest loans and financing vehicles. But, as with many databases, its functionality is only as good as the data it holds. “We suggested DECG expand the database to include all of the publicly owned, city-owned commercial parcels,” recalled Pohorelsky, and to share that database with city agencies so that they are all working from the same page. For both Ofori and Pohorelsky, the PAE was an opportunity to take many of the lessons learned from their work with the Innovation Field Lab and apply it on a much larger scale.
“It was a tremendously rewarding experience,” said Ofori “The chance to be a part of Detroit’s revitalization, particularly in the city’s neighborhoods, was a powerful capstone to my time at HKS,” Pohorelsky added
Policy Analysis Exercises and Second Year Policy Analyses are capstone projects that offer an opportunity for HKS students to develop targeted recommendations to address a real-world policy or management problem. The Ash Center connects students embarking on their PAEs and SYPAs with client organizations and provides student travel grants for capstone projects with a connection to Ash-affiliated faculty. ash.harvard.edu/for-students
A NEW APPROACH IN CITY HALL The red brick and weathered stone of city hall stretch three stories above Manchester, New Hampshire’s central business district, topped by an elaborate, Gothic Revival spire. Sunlight streams through the arched windows of the building into a winding stairwell lined with portraits of city leaders, from 1846 to the present—neat rows climb from black and white to color; all stern gazes, mustaches, and crisp shirt collars. The march of masculinity is broken by the very last portrait—a smiling blonde woman.
Joyce Craig, Manchester’s first female mayor and a participant in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, was elected in 2017. “It was never a goal of mine to be in politics,” she said. “But I’m very grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been presented with.” Politician or not, the nature of the job of mayor is to hit the ground running, and Craig did just that: She spent her first few months in office getting up to speed with department heads, meeting local business leaders, and talking with residents at community centers and clubs. One of the things she repeatedly heard from businesses, residents, and nonprofits was a rising concern about how best to address homelessness in the city. Manchester shoulders a disproportionately large share of the state’s homeless population, with nearly 30 percent of New Hampshire’s homeless, while representing only 8 percent of the state’s total population. Of Manchester’s homeless population, 42 percent have either a severe mental illness or substance use disorder, presenting a significant challenge for the city and nonprofits struggling to meet the demand for treatment and housing in the face of shrinking state and federal resources, as is the case for countless other cities across the country. “The laser focus for me when I first took office was on the opioid crisis because of the shortfall in treatment options,” said Craig. “But as a piece of that, it was also helping individuals who were homeless given that many of them are also suffering from substance use disorder and mental health issues. To a certain extent, it was all connected.” As she made strides up the steep learning curve of local leadership, Craig realized there was little in the way of guidance or resources for how to govern as mayor. “When you take the office of mayor, there’s no training,” she said. “And, when you think about being a mayor, it’s kind of a lonely job because it’s not like there is another mayor in your city that you can call for advice or guidance.” In the spring of 2018, Craig jumped at the chance to join the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative (BHCLI or “the initiative”), a yearlong leadership, management, and professional development program led by Harvard faculty, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies, and housed at the Ash Center. Craig and her city were among 40 chosen to participate in the second-ever cohort of the initiative, which provides mayors and their senior officials with classes geared toward encouraging the development of concepts including innovation, strong collaborations, teaming, negotiation, narrative, and the effective use of data in cities—plus additional programming and support from Harvard staff and graduate students. “What really attracted me to this program is that I would be working with 39 other mayors from around the world, so that we could share ideas and then bounce ideas off each other,” recalled Craig. In addition to the intensive, in-person classroom learning component of BHCLI, Craig also chose to participate in the program’s supplemental data and evidence track, which helped
increase the city’s capacity to use data to improve municipal performance. Through the program, Craig was also assigned a mayoral coach—a former mayor or city leader—to help distill the techniques taught in the classroom and provide real-world guidance and experience. Craig’s coach was Stephen Goldsmith, director of the Ash Center Innovations Program and Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government, who served as mayor of Indianapolis and deputy mayor of New York City. Having spearheaded the creation of the Center’s Data-Smart City Solutions project, which works to catalyze adoption of data projects on the local government level, Goldsmith was well positioned to help guide Craig and her team on how best to leverage data to improve decision-making in city hall. “She brings to difficult community problems, including complex issues like homelessness, a mandate to develop responses that produce
results,” said Goldsmith. “During my conversations with her about using data she made it clear that she has tasked herself with leveraging evidence for better outcomes.” The BHCLI program also helped turn Manchester itself into a classroom of sorts, by giving Harvard students the opportunity to get hands-on experience working on operational challenges in municipal government. As part of the Greater Boston Applied Field Lab run by Linda Bilmes, Daniel Patrick Moynihan Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, and supported by the initiative, four students were embedded in city hall with Craig and her staff during the 2019 spring semester. Their mission was to give the mayor a better understanding of the myriad funding and other resources that were earmarked for homelessness services, including multiple pots of federal, state, and local dollars as well as the work of nonprofit and faith-based providers. “No one was really looking at the funding piece of [the homelessness issue] and understanding how much money was being spent or whether it was
Hallock (left) and Lien were introduced to Manchester’s city hall when they were students in Senior Lecturer Linda Bilmes’s Greater Boston Applied Field Lab. Both continued their collaboration with the city and Mayor Craig as summer fellows with support from the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative
being spent effectively or where it was being spent,” recalled Craig. Untangling how resources were being allocated for homelessness prevention and response would be no easy task. The student team from Bilmes’s field course included Allen Lien, DrPH candidate at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health (HSPH); Emily Caplan, MPH candidate at HSPH; Josh Feller, MBA 2018 at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business/MPA 2019 at HKS; and Amanda Hallock MPP 2020 at HKS. At the end of the semester, the team submitted a detailed analysis to Craig of the various public and private funding sources dedicated to homeless services in Manchester. They found that at least $35 million is spent annually on these efforts in the city, but that the city itself has a direct role in allocating only $4 million of that funding. “What [the students] discovered was that there were dozens of small programs scattered across the city, and the funding was not necessarily being deployed strategically to intervene at the optimal point for preventing homelessness,” said Bilmes. As mayor, Craig was responsible for crafting the city’s overall strategy to reduce homelessness, but her office controlled only a 18
small portion of the resources to do so. “It was really interesting to get a sense as to what the total spend was and to understand where that money was going,” she said. While Craig did not have direct control over the purse strings of many of these programs, she could use her perch atop city hall to help coordinate the bevy of service providers in Manchester. Recognizing the challenges of having so many organizations providing services to the city’s homeless community, Bilmes’s team saw an opportunity to more effectively coordinate the work of these stakeholders. Hallock began tackling this challenge over the summer as a BHCLI fellow in Manchester. “The operational challenges demonstrated the need for more effective cross-sector collaboration to break down silos,” said Hallock, who spent the summer researching the feasibility of implementing a crosssectoral dashboard to track and coordinate homelessness services throughout the city. “Everyone has their own assessment, and everyone has their own approach, and what is hard to see is that, if they coordinated these, it might be better than anything they had before,” Hallock offered. Another field lab student, Allen Lien, also received support
from BHCLI to continue his work in Manchester over the summer. Lien is a medical doctor who worked in sub-Saharan Africa before moving to Boston to pursue a doctorate in public health. He spent much of his summer examining why Manchester’s public schools had seen a spike in the number of homeless students enrolled, as have many communities across the state. “I wanted to understand why this number is growing and what kinds of services could be integrated in the existing school system so that we can better serve these students and their extended families,” said Lien. He focused on interviewing school nurses and social workers to understand if increased coordination of services would help better identify families who might be at risk of falling into homelessness. For both Hallock and Lien, the experience working in Manchester with Craig and her team has been a capstone of their time at Harvard. Though neither of them is a stranger to working with government bureaucracy, they both marveled at how Craig and her staff opened the doors of city hall to them and invited them to be a part of her efforts to address homelessness in Manchester. “We were allowed to reach as far up and down in the ranks of government as we needed,” recalled Hallock. “And that was a very cool experience.”
*** Craig has made the most of the yearlong mayoral program by breaking down negotiation techniques with Harvard faculty, bouncing ideas for the regional airport off of other mayors, and workshopping how she communicates with the public and with her staff. And, her participation in the program has given her office, a hardworking staff of just three people, additional insight into how to address some of Manchester’s most intractable problems. Reflecting on her year with the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, Craig said, “The relationships that I’ve formed, not only with the mayors, but with the staff from Harvard and from Bloomberg, have been instrumental in how we have changed and operated in this office.” For the students and faculty who have worked with and gotten to know this reluctant politician, Craig and her work in Manchester have left a lasting impression. “Everywhere we go in Manchester, people of all walks of life come over to hug her. She is beloved and it’s clear why: she loves the city and everyone there,” observed Bilmes. For the initiative’s next mayoral cohort, she’s left some big shoes to fill.
“What [the students] discovered was that there were dozens of small programs scattered across the city, and the funding was not necessarily being deployed strategically to intervene at the optimal point for preventing homelessness”
Ryan Pierannunzi Takes Democracy Reform from the Classroom to the Campaign Trail With clipboard often in hand, Ryan Pierannunzi MPP 2019 became something of a noodge around campus. A friendly noodge to be sure. Pierannunzi, who was honored by the Ash Center with the 2019 Martha H. Mauzy Award for the Advancement of Democratic Governance, was a lead student organizer of the Harvard Votes Challenge and worked through much of the 2018 fall semester to help register as many of his eligible HKS classmates to vote as he could. Pierannunzi and his fellow organizers, it turns out, were pretty successful at noodging, as over 90 percent of eligible HKS students ultimately participated in the challenge in the runup to the midterm elections. “For me, voting and democracy issues have been my main policy interests and the reason I came to HKS,” said the Woonsocket, Rhode Island, native. “So many policy challenges we face today are in large part the result of structural flaws in our political system, and one of the most glaring flaws is how our government discourages meaningful civic participation.” Pierannunzi was nominated for the Mauzy Award, which is presented annually to a graduating HKS student, by his classmates and chosen by the Ash Center for his demonstrated commitment while on campus to issues such as voter participation and electoral reform. “We couldn’t be more thrilled to honor Ryan, who over his two years at HKS demonstrated his passion and enthusiasm for issues around public participation in government, especially democracy issues, ” said Teresa Acuña, associate director for the Center’s Democratic Governance Program. Democracy reform hasn’t been just a mere academic or political interest for Pierannunzi, but is something that has underpinned much of his professional life. After graduating from Fordham University in New York City, where he served as the chapter president of the College Democrats, Pierannunzi went to work as a fellow with the US Public Interest Research Group, where he focused on policy issues such as state government fiscal transparency and the tax treatment of corporate legal settlements. As part of this fellowship, he helped lead a nonprofit canvassing office in Providence, Rhode Island. Pierannunzi got a real taste of the often grueling work of running a political field campaign, calling it “the most challenging job I’ve had thus far.” Running an office and training workers would serve as an invaluable experience when he
came to HKS and helped spearhead many of the organizing drives around the Harvard Votes Challenge: “We treated it like a political field campaign with targeted outreach and disciplined messaging.” Coincidentally, Pierannunzi arrived on campus in the fall of 2017 to start his MPP degree just as Miles Rapoport was moving into his new office as the Ash Center’s inaugural Senior Practice Fellow in American Democracy. “It was really fortuitous that he and I both arrived here at the same time,” said Pierannunzi, who soon became a regular attendee of Rapoport’s democracy reform study group. “In many ways, Ryan is exactly who the study group was designed for. He took the opportunity to engage with democracy reform practitioners thoughtfully and energetically, and made connections with a number of key organizational leaders,” recalled Rapoport. Building on a number of issues raised during the study group, Pierannunzi spent the summer between his first and second years at HKS working in the DC headquarters of Common Cause, a nonpartisan good-government advocacy organization where he conducted research to support a number of the watchdog group’s policy programs. He corresponded with congressional candidates across the country to increase participation in Common Cause’s “Our Democracy 2018” campaign, which collected and published candidates’ stances on democracy reform proposals, as well as conducted research for the organization’s “Democracy Scorecard” evaluating each Congressperson’s sponsorship of democracyrelated bills. Following his work with Common Cause, Pierannunzi spent much of his second year at HKS examining the impact of automatic voter registration (AVR) efforts as part of his MPP capstone project, or Policy Analysis Exercise (PAE), for Nonprofit VOTE, a voterparticipation organization based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Automatic voter registration was pioneered in Oregon, where it was first implemented in 2016 and resulted in a significant boost to registration numbers. Given that it’s only been used in a handful of elections, there’s still a paucity of data illustrating how the reform impacts voting turnout. “Ryan’s report for Nonprofit VOTE places AVR in the context of other reforms and will be important baseline research for the more longitudinal studies to come,” said Rapoport, who helped advise Pierannunzi on his PAE. With a freshly minted diploma in hand, Pierannunzi plans on
Faculty affiliated with the Ash Center teach and advise students, develop unique learning materials, and offer research and teaching assistant opportunities. The Center also offers tuition scholarships, travel grants for research, applied learning opportunities, study groups and workshops, support for student groups and events, and opportunities to connect through a Community Speaker Series. ash.harvard.edu/for-students
building on his experience organizing and engaging on democracy reform issues, either continuing his work in the nonprofit and advocacy sector or joining the growing ranks of staff working for 2020 presidential hopefuls.
“Given everything that’s happened to American politics in the last few years, I just need to be able to say that I did my part and worked to help change the outcomes.” It shouldn’t be a surprise then, if you’re in an early primary state, to run into Pierannunzi with clipboard in hand, noodging voters. With a friendly smile, of course.
“Given everything that’s happened to American politics in the last few years, I just need to be able to say that I did my part and worked to help change the outcomes”
Q+A Jane Mansbridge with
The Ash Center sat down with Jane Mansbridge, Charles F. Adams Professor of Political Leadership and Democratic Values, to discuss her work developing a package of case studies, simulations, and exercises for teaching effective legislative negotiation aimed at state and federal legislators in the United States.
What interested you about the field of legislative negotiation? My field is deliberative democracy. I realized recently that all of the academic literature on deliberation put down negotiation, denigrated it, considered it bargaining. Deliberation is supposed to be talking about the common good, whereas bargaining pits people against each other. But because I’m here at the Kennedy School, I work with colleagues teaching negotiation. So I knew that negotiation isn’t just two absolute enemies bargaining to just get the best thing for themselves. It’s more creative than that. So, I thought, ‘Well, let’s see what political science has to say about negotiation.’ And, the answer was: it had zero to say about legislative negotiation.
Why do you think that is? Legislative negotiation takes place behind closed doors. It has to be behind closed doors to maximize success. So to study it, you can’t watch it. You have to ask people who’ve been there what they remember. Two problems: First, they might not remember accurately. Second, even more importantly, they’re not necessarily going to tell you what went on, because the point of closed doors is to keep things from getting out. Good negotiators don’t talk at the time, and the best ones don’t talk later either. Also, unlike roll-call votes, there are no obvious numbers attached to the process. As a consequence, this really important democratic method has just not been studied systematically at all. Some journalists have done a brilliant job of writing case studies of particular negotiations, asking lots of people and beginning to pry things out of them. But there’s been nothing systematic.
What about the study of negotiation? Certainly at Harvard we regularly train negotiators in law, business, and other fields. Have legislators and their staffs regularly participated in these trainings? There has never been any training in legislative negotiation. The negotiation field came out of business and to some degree international relations. Most of the cases are business cases.
It’s almost as if it were that no one knew this material was absent so, therefore, there was no demand for it. Exactly. It’s one of these circular things in which, because nothing exists, nobody asks for it. And, because nobody asked for it, nothing exists. It’s funny, because some legislators have taken negotiation courses at law schools. Some have even gone to public policy schools and have taken negotiation there. But the fact that they never once had a case in legislative negotiation had never occurred to them until we mentioned it. So it’s quite extraordinary; once we began to say the magic two words together—“legislative” and “negotiation”— people went “bing, bing, bing, bing, bing” in recognition.
So how has this project been received by legislators and their staffs? The uptake has been terrific. Legislators and staff have been very pleased with it. Some of the legislative participants who helped test the cases and simulations are wonderful negotiators themselves, but they weren’t familiar with the scholarly language of negotiation and the conceptual apparatus that you learn in negotiation courses. Giving them that framework helps even these experienced folk. In the last training we did with Congressional staff, every single participant responded with a “seven” on a seven-point scale to the question on whether they would recommend the training to another staff member.
“Everybody’s for affordable housing at the macro level until you start talking about putting it anywhere in the vicinity of where they live. Then suddenly there’s massive pushback” —Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey discussing his city’s bold efforts at residential zoning reform in March at the Ash Center’s Project on Municipal Innovation convening, a semiannual event that brings together the chiefs of staff to the mayors of some of the nation’s largest cities
“The party state does not dictate to Huawei day-to-day, but when the party state does require something, Huawei has no choice but to agree. . . . Huawei is part of China Inc.” —Paul Clifford, Ash Center Senior Fellow, tackling complicated questions about the growth and intentions of one of China’s leading tech firms at a packed event cohosted by the Ash and Fairbanks Centers in April
So how will this package of material that you helped develop ultimately be used? We are making the simulations and cases available free through the Kennedy School Case Program. In law and business schools, we hope that traditional negotiation courses will add a legislative component. In political science, we hope that courses on Congress and the legislative process will add a negotiation component. In Congress and the state legislatures, we hope that greater skill in negotiation can help policymaking in this hyperpolarized world. Our mantra is: “You can negotiate with enemies.”
“The sheer weight of another electoral majority will allow very big changes in the country even if the constitution will not formally change” —Ashutosh Varshney, Ash Center Senior Fellow and Sol Goldman Professor at Brown University, speaking in April at the Center about India’s thenforthcoming national elections
A Tale of Two Countries Ash postdoctoral fellow examines differences in how China and Russia respond to green activism
Plantan took this photo while visiting Tiger Leaping Gorge, a popular hiking destination in southwest China within a UNESCO World Heritage Protected Site
Elizabeth Plantan, a China postdoctoral fellow with the Ash Center, spent her 21st birthday in Irkutsk, Siberia, near Lake Baikal. The temperature was minus 55 degrees Fahrenheit. “It’s the sort of cold where your eyelashes freeze, but everyone still walks everywhere in the snow,” she recalled. Plantan, then an undergraduate at Wesleyan University, made the long trek to Irkutsk because she hoped to completely embed herself into Russian culture and community. “I wanted there to be very few foreigners so I wouldn’t have any temptation to speak English,” she said of her decision to swap the mild climate of Middletown, Connecticut, for the subarctic Siberian environment.
A new perspective Plantan spent her time in Irkutsk working for an environmental NGO that built trails around Lake Baikal for ecotourism. Through her experience, her perception of the country changed. “It’s not what you think about when you think about Stalin-era Russia. . . . The people are free and cosmopolitan,” she reflected. She discovered civil society had improved and NGOs had some power despite the constraints they faced under Moscow’s watchful eye. “People can speak freely and talk about politics in a way that I think maybe a lot of Americans wouldn’t expect,” she added. After earning her bachelor’s degree in Government and Russian and East European Studies, Plantan went on to complete a master’s degree at Indiana University in Russian and East European Studies where she also began studies in the university’s flagship Chinese language program. With her intellectual interest in China sparked, Plantan chose to write her master’s thesis comparing two case studies of environmental movements in Russia and China. When it came 24
time to apply to PhD programs, it seemed a given that she propose researching environmental activism in the two countries.
Common story, divergent path Russia and China have a shared history, not only of communist revolution but also of rapid industrialization. The landscapes of both countries have been ravaged in the name of breakneck industrial development, and in both, environmental activists are working to prevent further environmental degradation. Despite these similarities, Plantan thought it illustrative to investigate whether green activists are treated the same in both countries, and to ask why some environmental groups succeed while others fail. Accepted to Cornell University’s Government Department, Plantan began working to answer these questions through ethnographic research and fieldwork in Russia and China. “These environmental activists were putting themselves at risk just talking to me,” she reflected. “Even if they had normally talked in the media or were already openly doing their activism, in both countries, Russia and China, over the years, sensitivities about foreigners have gotten so high.” At the same time, she found environmentalists were keen to talk about their work and often invested time to share their experiences with her. “I was always really touched any time someone was really willing to sit down with me for hours,” Plantan recalled. Plantan’s doctoral research revealed a counterintuitive finding. Despite the fact that Russia has comparatively a more open society, “it’s much harder for Russian environmental activists to gain results from the state than it is for the Chinese,” she concluded. The Russian state, Plantan found, is more repressive toward environmental groups and actors than the Chinese government, which is notorious
for quelling almost all public criticism. This outcome begged a new question, why?
Finding answers After receiving her PhD in the fall of 2018, Plantan joined the joined the Ash Center as a postdoctoral fellow with its China Programs. The Ash Center offered her the space and time to continue her work and turn her findings into a book manuscript that answered questions around why the two countries treated environmental NGOs so differently. “Her work on environmental activism and civil society fits well with our interest in state-society relations,” said Ash Center Director Tony Saich, Daewoo Professor of International Affairs. “The fact that she is able to compare policy developments in China and Russia was a bonus as not many researchers have been able to look at this in detail.” During her time at the Center, Plantan has explored the two primary reasons for the divergence between China and Russia. The first, she said, is the driving economic force in each country. “On the Russian side, it’s pretty clear. It’s natural resources. Anything that threatens either the national economy or all of these elite interests that are wrapped up into natural resources would be threatening to the state,” she noted. Conversely, the Chinese economy is built on large-scale manufacturing and not nearly as dependent on extractive industries as Russia. The second piece to the puzzle is historical legacy. There was a strong environmental movement at the end of the Soviet Union following the Chernobyl catastrophe, explains Plantan. “For the environmentalists, it taught them that they can use mass protests and mass mobilization and achieve great things. But it also taught the state that it’s movements that have the ability to upend order,” she observed. In China, the events around Tiananmen Square taught the state a different lesson. “So, to the extent that the Chinese government is really worried about civil society groups, they tend to be most worried about workers and students.”
Clockwise from top left: Plantan journeyed to Russia’s White Sea, China’s Tiger Leaping Gorge, St. Basil’s Cathedral in Moscow’s Red Square, and a forest near Lake Baikal
Future scholarship Plantan’s research has not only been valuable to her academic peers; she shared her expertise with the Harvard community at an Ash Center event on protest in China in February 2019 and served as a teaching fellow in Saich’s popular HKS course, The Political Economy of China. In the future, she says, “I would really love to be a professor. I loved being in the classroom . . . it just felt good to be lecturing.” “Elizabeth will make a great classroom teacher,” said Saich. “She is a first-rate researcher; I look forward to the publication of her book and following her academic career.”
The Ash Center brings scholars, practitioners, and political leaders to the School, generally selected through a competitive process, for term appointments to pursue independent research projects, with a host of opportunities to enhance their professional skills and network with their peers. Fellows audit classes, attend regular research seminars, meet with faculty and students, and contribute to the overall academic life of the Center. ash.harvard.edu/fellowships
areas, have this problem [of too few or unclean restrooms],” Lin said, leaving children forced to consider never using the bathrooms at school, an unhealthy practice. Lin devised a three-pronged approach to tackling China’s toilet crisis: building toilets to contemporary standards, maintaining them, and improving bathroom etiquette. Though it sounds simple, the “Toilet issues are not petty matters but an important issue is multifaceted, with multiple stakeholders. aspect of improving infrastructure in urban and rural areas” —Chinese President Xi Jinping speaking to Lin ultimately turned to the China Global Philanthropy Institute, Xinhua news agency in November 2017 a leading nonprofit management and philanthropy training program in China, to help him drive his advocacy forward. The institute partners with the Ash Center to run the ELP training program, Each year, November 19 marks World Toilet and China Toilet and in March 2018, Lin journeyed to Cambridge for the three-week Revolution Awareness Day. Though washroom puns often executive education session. Led by Ash Center Director Tony Saich accompany headlines about China’s effort to improve the state and Edward Cunningham, director of the Center’s China Programs, of its public restrooms, the issue is no laughing matter in the ELP was created specifically to support leaders in China’s burgeoning eyes of the country’s leaders. President Xi’s “Toilet Revolution” philanthropic sector. The instruction blends skills-based sessions, announcement in 2015 was front-page news in the People’s Daily, case-based teaching, discussions with philanthropic leaders in the the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Communist US, and visits to foundations in Boston and DC. Party of China and a useful cipher for understanding Beijing’s Lin applied to the program hoping to strengthen his public leadership skills in service of the Toilet Revolution, but ultimately gained far more from the sessions. “I learned a keen awareness that if we want to solve these huge and complex social problems, we must focus on a specific goal to produce the greatest social value of our program,” said Lin. Lin leveraged this insight and new skills to launch a number of initiatives back in China, including a pilot program in Shenzhen that Lin Wei gives a presentation on his work to improve bathroom access in China to Executive Leaders in Philanthropy alumni and collected data on school toilets prospective students from different countries and led policy priorities. At the time of Xi’s announcement, China’s public to the development of the first school toilet standards in China. Now bathrooms were described as unhygienic, filthy, crude, anxietyLin is partnering with local governments and schools to raise funds inducing, and often in short supply. The condition of the country’s to overhaul bathrooms while ensuring that everyone, from principals bathrooms was both a mounting issue for China’s growing tourism to students, is educated on proper bathroom etiquette. industry as well as an ongoing public health crisis. “Lin has a passion for a critical aspect of the built environment— Lin Wei, a public welfare specialist from Shenzhen and graduate how does infrastructure reinforce implicit and explicit gender of the Ash Center’s Executive Leaders in Philanthropy (ELP) bias, and shape access to public goods and services?” remarked executive education program, cares deeply about public health and Cunningham. “Our ELP program seeks to inspire individuals in has made it his mission to tackle the issues of poor bathroom quality the social sector to ask such questions, and then equip them with and lack of facilities across China. He’s not abashed to talk about tools and frameworks to go about addressing these issues. Lin Wei what some deem an impolite topic. “Toilet issues are closely related embodies this combination of curiosity, conviction, and deployment to everyone,” he said. “The Chinese economy has developed over the of concepts such as stakeholder analysis and persuasion to change past few decades, but we lack these basic public services.” policy for the better.” In addition to the basic sanitation needs raised by China’s Lin is hopeful about the future of the Toilet Revolution. “If we toilet campaign, Lin is quick to note how problems with restrooms carry out work in building good toilets, managing them well, and disproportionately impact women and schoolchildren. With everyone respects the new public resources, we can gradually solve schoolchildren, Lin demonstrated that poor restroom facilities in some of these broader social problems,” he predicted. schools were having a detrimental effect on children’s welfare. “Many primary and secondary schools, not only in relatively undeveloped
China’s Toilet Revolution
Office Hours From JFK Jr. Forum in the Littauer Building, go up the stairs and turn right . . . Jaws drop the first time most students enter Christopher Robichaud’s office. The animated response is fitting for the senior lecturer in public policy’s workspace. On top of, between, and leaning against the books that line nearly every inch of the walls—save the window looking out over John F. Kennedy Memorial Park—are memorabilia ranging from collector-edition action figures to a vintage-inspired Star Wars turntable. Robichaud, an Ash faculty affiliate, opened his door for a conversation with the Center about his unique decor.
How would you describe your office? There’s a couple of components to this office that I think hit a person when they walk in. One, of course, is the overwhelming number of books that they’re greeted with. The other thing is a small sampling of some of my pop culture obsessions: the Star Wars rug, the Black Panther blanket, the Spider-Man pillows, the high-end collectible statues of my favorite 80s creatures, all the slashers, plus werewolves. Of course, there’s the intersection of some of my ideas of politics and popular culture with a series of presidents made into monsters and [John F.] Kennedy as The Phantom of the Opera.
You’ve brought pop culture into your classroom teaching and you also host This Week in Dystopia, a podcast about the intersection of politics and pop culture. What inspired you to create the show? Even at a school of politics, we can be out of touch with how the public is thinking about politics and what they want. After the 2016 election, we [the Kennedy School] made an all-hands-on-deck effort to reach out and try to find more and interesting ways to take all the intellectual talent that often comes through Harvard and provide it for public consumption. There’s a growing group of us who are unapologetic about being academics, but are also bringing that academic rigor to bear on Beyoncé, sports, or exercise. The podcast is a space or a forum in which I allow those conversations to happen. Part of it is just to show folks, ‘Look, there actually are some interesting ideas here. Learning doesn’t have to be agonizing.’
Any Easter eggs in the office? Anything hidden that people wouldn’t notice? In the corner, there are a bunch of Dungeons & Dragons books; I run a Dungeons & Dragons game out of the Kennedy School. A couple times a month, people—including a Cambridge city councilor—play with me and a bunch of the students. Also, I have one of the Ben Cooper 1976 King Kong masks. Those are very hard to find in good condition. People usually walk by it are just like, “Why does this guy have a gorilla mask here?” But collectors will immediately stop.
As a philosopher and ethicist, why is pop culture a part of your work? I sometimes joke that philosophy is wasted on philosophers. It’s only half a joke. I love the discipline. I love my colleagues who are professional philosophers writing mostly for professional philosophers. There’s so much good that philosophy can do in the public, at large, but you sort of have to meet them halfway. So, my way of meeting folks halfway is by saying, “These popular cultural things that you love—Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead or Dungeons & Dragons or superheroes—there are some interesting philosophical ideas here.”
Robichaud is constantly adding new books, board games, and collectibles to his office, which rarely looks the same from one semester to the next
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