Reports & Papers

47 Items

Office workers using sticky notes on a wall

Adobe Stock

Paper

Human-Centered Policymaking

| April 2020

Human-centered design (HCD) is a complementary discipline that has its roots in industrial design, the discipline that crafts physical products like phones, guitars, and potato peelers. It leverages the qualitative research methods honed in the social sciences—such as ethnography, contextual inquiry, and targeted observations and interviews—to better understand people and interactions. HCD also considers environments, processes, systems, and tools outside of the digital realm. Practitioners often map out customer “journeys” to understand customer experiences across an entire system or ecosystem, not merely a single interface or piece of software. As in agile software development, practitioners of human-centered design iteratively develop solutions to the challenges they uncover, and they rigorously test their solutions with real “users.”

Paper

Data, Not Documents: Modernizing the Regulatory State

| March 2019

This report starts with a brief primer about the federal regulatory process, including how regulatory agencies collect information from businesses and regulated parties. We then explore potential benefits of data collection modernization—including newer models of regulators harvesting openly published data—and highlight the importance of regulators working with regulated parties to design data collection processes that work for both government and the regulated party.

Report

Big Data, Meager returns?

| Nov. 28, 2018

On October 12th, we brought together specialists, academics and activists to investigate the main points arising from the “Data, Artificial intelligence and the Global South” conversation. The purpose of the workshop was to explore economic fairness and the Global South. This post shares the questions we asked, some of our findings, and what we need to consider next.

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

2018 State of Digital Transformation

| October 2018

On June 12-13, 2018, digital HKS welcomed public sector digital services teams from around the world to share stories of success, talk about lessons learned, and discuss the challenges they face in transforming government. The teams convened all agreed on North Star goals of building platform services and putting users at the center; what remains much more difficult is identifying how teams in very different political and technology contexts should think about how to reach that end-state. In this report, digital HKS shares best practices we gleaned from this group, to start a broader conversation for digital services groups around the world about what comes next.

View of General Assembly at UN Global Engagement Summit

UN Photo

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Exponential Innovation and Human Rights

| Feb. 27, 2018

Technological innovation and the politics of global justice are two fields that interact quite extensively in international diplomatic discourse and public debate. Controversial issues, such as accessing essential medicines, reducing greenhouse gases, conserving biological diversity, providing clean energy, and expanding the adoption of green technologies, require answers at the intersection of technological innovation, international diplomacy, and global justice. Our approach is to start off with the broader understanding that justice is rights-based and then proceed to analyze it using a goal-based framework. This brings into sharp focus the relationships between innovation and human rights.

Nov. 23, 2016, a train returns from transporting ballast used in the construction of the Nairobi-Mombasa railway

AP Photo/Ben Curtis

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

African Regional Economic Integration

| Winter 2018

The power of Pan-Africanism as a guiding vision for the continent’s development is widely studied, mostly as an aspirational phenomenon. At worst, Pan-Africanism has often been seen as a poor imitation of American federalism or European integration. Both of these perceptions do not reflect the profound nature of the role that the ideology of Pan-Africanism played in shaping the continent’s economic transformation. 

Discussion Paper - Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center

Education, Research, and Innovation in Africa: Forging Strategic Linkages for Economic Transformation

| February 2016

Africa is a youthful continent: nearly 41% of its population is under the age of 18. To address the unique challenges of this demographic structure, the African Union (AU) hopes to reposition the continent as a strategic player in the global economy through improved education and application of science and technology in development. The paper proposes the creation of “Innovation Universities” that combine research, teaching, community service and commercialization in their missions and operations. They would depart from the common practice where teaching is carried out in universities that do little research, and where research is done in national research institutes that do not undertake teaching. Under this model, there is little connection with productive sectors. The idea therefore is not just to create linkages between those activities but to pursue them in a coordinated way under the same university structure. Innovation universities can be created in diverse fields such as agriculture, health, industry, services, and environment to advance sustainable development and inclusive growth.

Discussion Paper - Science, Technology, and Globalization Project, Belfer Center

Taking Root: Global Trends in Agricultural Biotechnology

| January 2015

Nearly two decades of experience have shown that agricultural biotechnology has the potential to address some of the world’s pressing challenges. Its potential, however, cannot be addressed in isolation. Instead it should be part of a larger effort to expand the technological options needed to address persistent and emerging agricultural challenges.

The aim of this paper is to review the evidence on global trends in the application of agricultural biotechnology and identify some of their salient benefits. The paper is cognizant that biotechnology alone cannot solve the world’s agricultural challenges. But even though it is not a silver bullet, it should still be included in the package of technological options available to farmers. The evidence available today suggests that public policy should appeal more to pragmatism and less to ideology when seeking solutions to global agricultural challenges.

Amogdoul Wind Farm, Essaouira, Morocco, August 1, 2007.

Wikimedia CC

Paper - World Institute for Development Economics Research

Innovation Capabilities for Sustainable Development in Africa

| March 2014

A sustainable pathway for Africa in the twenty-first century is laid out in the setting of the development of innovation capabilities and the capture of latecomer advantages. Africa has missed out on these possibilities in the twentieth century while seeing the East Asian countries advance. There are now abundant examples and cases to draw on, in the new setting where industrial development has to have green tinges to be effective.