**Live, online shopping sessions with the faculty instructors are taking place on Aug. 28 and 29, 2023.
Access these sessions via the course Canvas sites, linked from shopping session schedule posted on the HKS website here.**
Today’s array of societal challenges – from economic disparity, political injustice, rising dangers posed by climate change, and ongoing threats to basic human rights and democratic freedoms – demand, more urgently than ever, that citizens come together and act in collaboration to hold accountable, or change, the existing institutions and systems meant to ensure justice, health, safety, and dignity for people. The Harvard Kennedy School offers numerous important courses that explore the fundamental ways people organize and take collective action for social change. Further, the MLD Area course offerings provide students with the excellent opportunities to directly apply their learning in existing advocacy organizations and movements, and even to create campaigns of their own from the ground up.
In her new course MLD 370: Social Movements: The Art and Science of Social Change, Assistant Professor of Public Policy Liz McKenna applies a sociological lens to historical and contemporary cases of social, labor, and political movements from around the world to answer the questions: What’s the difference between a movement that wins victories for its constituents, and one that fails? And, what are the factors that make collective action powerful?
Drawing on her award-winning doctoral research on civil society in Brazil, and the studies detailed in her 2021 book, Prisms of the People: Power and Organizing in 21st Century America, McKenna’s work examines how organizational leaders build constituency bases that successfully exercise political power. Students in the course will also learn about the role of culture, media, and technology in collective action. With these frameworks in their toolkit, students then enter an experiential learning “lab,” where they investigate how the course concepts work in practice by selecting an existing social-movement organization and analyzing a challenge its leaders face. Projects can explore areas ranging from movement narratives; organizational structure and governance; leadership development; strategy and tactics; learning and adaptation; political contestation; power mapping; and effective use of data. Again, by understanding how to analyze, then potentially create and implement these aspects of a movement or campaign, students will benefit when working in future change-making roles.
For students interested in immediate, hands-on experience creating and working in campaigns and movements, the MLD Area offers three other powerful courses:
Marshall Ganz, the esteemed Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing and Civil Society, has been teaching organizing at HKS for nearly 30 years. Having first come to Harvard (College) in the fall of 1960, he left a year before graduating to volunteer with the 1964 Mississippi Summer Project. There, he found a “calling” as an organizer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and, in the fall of 1965 joined Cesar Chavez in his effort to unionize California farm workers. During 16 years with the United Farm Workers he gained experience in union, political, and community organizing; became Director of Organizing; and was elected to the national executive board on which he served for 8 years. During the 1980s he worked with grassroots groups to develop new organizing programs and designed innovative voter mobilization strategies for local, state, and national electoral campaigns. In 1991, in order to deepen his intellectual understanding of his work, he returned to Harvard College and after a 28-year “leave of absence” completed his undergraduate degree in history and government. He earned his MPA from HKS in 1993, then began teaching at HKS soon thereafter, while simultaneously completing a Harvard PhD in sociology (awarded in 2000). During his time as HKS faculty, Ganz has continued to work “in the field,” including with the Obama presidential campaign (2007-8), the Sierra Club, the Ahel Organizing Initiative (Jordan), Serbia on the Move (Belgrade), Avina (Bogata), Tatua (Kenya), and Community Organizing Japan (Tokyo), learning and perfecting his organizing frameworks.
The premise for MLD-377M and MLD-378M is that an “organized” citizenry is able to formulate, articulate, and assert its shared interests. Organizing, in turn, requires leadership: accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve a shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Organizers, then, ask three core questions:
Who are my people?
What is the change we need?
How can we turn our resources into the power we need to achieve that change?
That is to say, organizers must learn to identify, recruit and develop leadership; build community with that leadership; and create power from resources of that community. Students do this in MLD-377M, the “Design” module of the two-course sequence, by applying the five organizing practices: storytelling; relationship building; strategizing; structuring; and, lastly, taking action, as they actually organize their own leadership teams, decide upon a shared purpose, and design organizing campaigns to achieve their purpose. The pedagogy is structured in a purposeful sequence: “explanation,” “modeling,” “practice,” and “reflective debriefing,” which allow students to better learn from repeated practice.
During the second “Leadership” (in practice) module, MLD-378M, students learn to lead the campaign they designed: organizing a kick-off; developing leadership; innovating tactics; engaging with power; and winning, losing, and learning. Practice and critical reflection are again the keys to learning in this module. Students are supported in this process by a set of skilled course coaches who, themselves, have extensive experience actively engaging in these organizing practices and developing students into movement leaders.
Note: *Enrollment into MLD-377M is limited and by permission of the instructor. The course is taught in a two-week intensive format during the Spring 1 Module, with in-person instruction limited to two intensive workshops on the weekends (February 23-25 and March 1-3, 2024). Also, MLD-377M is a firm prerequisite for enrollment in MLD-378M.
Brooks’s course seeks to understand longstanding inequities and injustices and recognizes the importance of principled advocacy in an age of unprecedented activism.
Like Ganz, Professor Brooks, brings a wealth of experience into the classroom, having served four years (2014 – 2017) as president and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP); worked as civil rights attorney; and practiced as an ordained minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
At the NAACP Brooks reinvigorated the activist social justice heritage of the NAACP, dramatically increased its youth membership, and conceived and led the 2015 march known as “America’s Journey for Justice” from Selma, Alabama to Washington, D.C., over 40 days and 1000 miles. During his tenure, Brooks and the NCAAP aided in organizing to address policing injustice in Ferguson, MO to failure of government to protect water quality in the majority-black, low-income community of Flint, MI. Prior to leading the NAACP, Brooks was president and CEO of the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, where he led the passage of pioneering criminal justice reform and housing legislation. He also served as senior counsel and acting director of the Office of Communications Business Opportunities at the Federal Communications Commission; executive director of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington, and a trial attorney at both the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and the U.S. Department of Justice. As a DOJ trial attorney, he secured a record-setting settlement for housing discrimination victims and filed the first government case alleging housing discrimination against a nursing home.
Brooks’s course MLD-375 seeks to understand longstanding inequities and injustices and recognizes the importance of principled advocacy in an age of unprecedented activism. Issues of highest concern in the course are environmental injustice, biased policing and public safety, criminal justice and prison reform, the fragility and erosion of the right to vote, the need for equitable economic development, and the long call for reparations for racial injustice in the United States. Brooks teaches students tested advocacy principles – e.g., moral ambition, perfect/imperfect victims, concentric/consecutive coalitions, and scholarship — to address these issues, including the particular strategies of the arc of advocacy.
Note: Students must competitively apply for enrollment in MLD-375, with the key criteria being a demonstrated passion for social justice. Students admitted to the course should expect extensive work outside of class and must remain patient, flexible, and persistent in the face of the real-time challenges posed in the course.
A range of other HKS courses complement the four MLD Area offerings above, with each one listed below providing a different framework, addressing different issues and contexts, and providing informed and valuable approaches.
Throughout history, Boston and Massachusetts have been progressive leaders in social change: the first public school, the Revolutionary War, the first public library, the Abolitionist Movement to eliminate slavery, Women’s Suffrage, Universal Health Care (almost), and Marriage Equality, to name of a few.
Yet, Boston has had, and continues to have, serious challenges. Today its economy is booming; some talk about this being Boston’s “Golden Age.” That said, Boston has one of the highest levels of income inequality of any city in the U.S. Its history of difficult race, ethnic, and class relations issues continue to this day.
Winship and Jackson posit that social change, for better or worse, often occurs, at least in part, because of individual or group leadership. But what makes for effective, or ineffective leadership? Is it the quality or skills of an individual? Do ethics matter? A good match between what is needed and who is in leadership? Or is it making the right strategic choices based on a thorough understanding of situation?
Answering these questions requires someone to be a good social scientist – to have a sophisticated understanding of the manifest and latent dynamics of a situation and the potential leaders within it. Importantly, different situations require different types of leadership and individuals differ in their leadership skills and resources.
Through MLD-618 students have fantastic opportunity to deeply examine local issues and actually interact with the key individuals who are, or were, the protagonists in the cases being studied.
Students can ask these special class guests how they understood the situation(s) they were in, why they made the decisions that they did, and if now, in retrospect, they would have done anything differently. A few examples of expected guests in the course are:
Nicole Obi on Black Economic Development and Empowerment
The core learning goal of this course is to give students the tools to rigorously analyze and evaluate situations where leadership is an issue and social change is the goal. You will learn how to do this by using a specific framework consisting of a series of steps: analyzing a situation, determining what options are available, and then evaluating each option in term of its consequences and its ethics. In addition, many cases in the course are interrelated. What is possible to do in any situation will often be constrained by what happened in previous situation(s). It is important that the cases we examine be understood in context, not as isolated situations. The local focus on Boston as a community allows students to do this. The course also provides a unique opportunity for students to learn about Boston and its environs. Through three different trips to explore Boston: one as a class (Museum of African American History), and two on your own (The Black Heritage Trail and the Ella J. Baker House) students gain concrete experience of the city in which they are studying, and see the city as a learning laboratory.
For the past ten years, Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Social Policy Jeffrey Liebmanhas led the HKS Government Performance Lab which provides technical assistance to state and local governments interested in improving the results they achieve for their citizens. During that time Liebman and his team of experts, many HKS students and alumni fellows, have become experts at using analytics, outcomes-focused contracts, and cross-sector collaborations to help improve social service programs at the city and state levels. The GPL helps governments address thorny questions, like how to use data to find individuals who had fallen through the cracks, or how to restructure contracts to incentivize providers to serve the most difficult clients. Originally founded as a platform to explore the efficacy of Pay for Success (PFS) projects like Social Impact Bonds, where the governments agrees to pay for services only if they are shown to be successful, and allowing them to test promising new interventions and collaborative stakeholder models, the GPL evolved in response to a need Liebman and his team discovered across the agencies in which they worked. “Our government partners began to ask whether the same models we developed in PFS could be applied to help government social service agencies run their core operations better,” says Liebman.
Government leaders were seeking data-driven, boots-on-the-ground technical assistance, so Liebman rapidly expanded the GPL, placing students and HKS alumni with backgrounds in data analysis, public policy, and implementation in the field with a variety governments and agencies selected through national competitions. Projects began with programs aimed at reducing prison recidivism and reintegration for young people exiting the juvenile justice system, then expanded to include initiatives in maternal and infant health, high-quality pre-K, and addressing homelessness. Working across jurisdictions allowed Liebman and his team to discover and refine a set of approaches that responds to the recurring, problematic issues governments face. For example, one of the key insights Liebman’s team uncovered during its PFS work was that procurement and contracting were too often seen as back-office compliance functions instead of used as powerful levers for systems change. GPL developed a signature framework for Results-Driven Contracting to help governments achieve high-priority strategic goals and drive improvements in service delivery.
This and other lessons are now taught at HKS each Fall in MLD-630: Government Turnarounds. The course delivers proven strategies that government leaders have used to turn around troubled agencies and improve government performance. In teaching, Liebman draws on a mixture of lectures, case studies (often with guest visits by the case protagonists and other experts), and student presentations. Topics covered include:
1. Setting strategic goals and getting your organization to follow through on them.
2. Data-driven leadership strategies for improving agency performance, such as performance stat and delivery units.
3. Using results-driven contracting strategies to improve procurement.
4. Techniques for recruiting, training, re-energizing, and retaining talent.
5. Strategies for overcoming inertia.
6. Strategies for sustaining reforms.
Learning from practice is a hallmark of the Harvard Kennedy School, and our faculty includes numerous talented individuals who have spent significant portions of their careers in public service. Perhaps the best example is adjunct lecturer Thomas Glynn.
Glynn’s long and distinguished career has spanned across the public-, private- and non-profit sectors, and covered an array of public policy domains, including public health, labor, transportation, and urban development. From 1983 to 1988 Glynn served as Deputy Commissioner of Public Welfare in Massachusetts which included oversight of the Commonwealth’s Medicaid program. From 1989 to 1991, Glynn was the General Manager of the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority which includes subway, trolley, bus, paratransit and commuter rail services for Greater Boston. Recently, in 2023, Glynn returned to leadership of the MBTA as Chair of its Board of Directors. In 1991 the Mayor of Boston, Raymond Flynn, tapped Glynn to chair the Mayor’s Healthcare Commission with a focus on improving the performance of neighborhood health centers. Then, in 1993, Glynn was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be U.S. Deputy Secretary of Labor. He was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by unanimous consent and served through April 15, 1996.
Subsequently, from 1996 to 2010 he served as COO of Partners Healthcare (now called “Mass General Brigham | Integrated Health Care System”), a network of Harvard hospitals, clinicians, and neighborhood health centers. Stepping down from Partners in 2010, Glynn joined the Harvard Kennedy School for the first time, teaching MLD-101, then the introductory public management course in the MPP core, and serving as the faculty chair of an executive program for new State Commissioners for Public Health. Called into public service again, Glynn left HKS to serve from 2012-2018 as CEO of the Massachusetts Port Authority which includes Boston’s Logan International Airport, four maritime businesses in the Port of Boston and significant real estate portfolios in the South Boston Seaport and East Boston Waterfront. In 2018 Glynn returned to Harvard, becoming Chief Executive Officer of the Harvard Allston Land Company, overseeing the University’s non-institutional development of its Enterprise Research Campus in Allston, MA. In Fall of 2019, Glynn stepped back into the HKS classroom as an adjunct lecturer teaching courses in on strategic management for public service organizations. Glynn continues to serve on the Board of Directors of the Pine Street Inn, an agency that serves the homeless, the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute for Health Professions, and several other non-profit healthcare organizations. For his exceptional service, Glynn was named a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration.
Bringing his wealth of experience into his course MLD-636: Managing Transformations in Healthcare Glynn focuses on how to successfully manage transformations in the U.S. healthcare system. Transformations in healthcare include changing reimbursement models, initiatives to improve quality, and projects to redesign the care delivery system. Unsurprisingly, given his experience, this course will work across sectors – non-profit, private, and public sectors, including federal, state and local levels. Using primarily the case-method pedagogy, this course will begin with a focus on diagnosing specific contextual, organizational, and cultural challenges faced by organizations delivering healthcare. Then the course will turn to management tools that can transform the healthcare delivery system. These tools include: 1) managing silos, 2) enhancing the role of clinicians, 3) goal setting and monitoring, and 4) public health campaigns. Glynn also plans to bring into his class several distinguished guest lecturers who are in the heart of current practice.
MLD-636 will be offered at Harvard Kennedy School in the fall semester. If you have any questions about this course, or any other in the MLD curriculum, email Greg Dorchak, MLD Area Administrator.
In Power, for All, Battilana and her co-author Tiziana Casciaro offer a new vision of power – what they define as the ability to influence someone else’s behavior – as deriving from having access to valued resources. Understanding what those resources are, people can take action to plan for, create, and sustain organizational and systems change. Drawing upon lessons derived from their rich research, and conveying lessons through wide-ranging case narratives, Battilana and Casciaro reveal the insights into power and influence that come from understanding (1) the two basic needs all human beings share—safety and self-esteem—and (2) the resources people seek to satisfy those needs: obvious ones, like money and status, but also less obvious and less tangible resources, like autonomy, achievement, affiliation, and morality. In sumPower, for All demystifies the essential mechanisms for acquiring and using power, showing that it is available to ALL people, not just those with personality, money, or, indeed, those willing to use intimidation, threats, or worse.
Building on these empowering ideas…,
…and designed for individuals at any stage of their career, Battilana’s course MLD-340 Power and Influence for Positive Impactwill debunk the fallacies that many have about power and explore the fundamentals of power in interpersonal relationships, in organizations, and in society. In doing so, it will lift the veil on power, revealing to students what it really is, and how it works, ultimately unleashing their potential to build and use power to effect change at home, at work, and in society.
MLD-340 is ideal for students who want to make things happen, despite the obstacles that might stand in the way. Students will walk away prepared to exercise power positively to challenge the status quo in order to address the pressing social and environmental problems of our time. Students will learn conceptual models, tactical approaches, and assessment tools to develop their personal influence style and understand the political dynamics surrounding them. The subject matter in the course also specifically encourages students to use power responsibly, resist its corruptive perils, and challenges students to develop their own sense of what constitutes the ethical exercise of power and influence in their lives. In the past a stellar array of in-class guests have been invited into the course, each an eminent and effective changemaker in their field:
*The Academy of Management’s George R. Terry Book Award is granted annually to the book judged to have made the most outstanding contribution to the global advancement of management knowledge during the last two years. Books that contribute to the advancement of management theory, conceptualization, research, or practice are eligible for this prestigious award. Battilana and Casciaro were presented the award at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management on August 7, 2022.
Many development experts use plan and control methods to introduce new policy solutions into complex settings. Too often these results end up in in failure. Effective leaders in the challenging development context should be using more flexible facilitated emergence methods instead, but often they do not know what these methods involve. MLD-103M: PDIA in Action: Development Through Facilitated Emergencetaught by Matthew Andrews, Edward S. Mason Senior Lecturer in International Development, is a Spring module course that introduces students to a new approach to doing facilitated emergence, Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) in the development context. Students will learn how to facilitate discussions about problems and potential solutions, to engage with teams, and to facilitate an iterative learning process. MLD-103M is a complementary course to MLD-102: Getting Things Done: Management in a Development Context also taught by Matthew Andrews, although MLD-102 is not a pre-requisite.