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Students choose a special field of interest to develop a strong foundation for future research, and enroll in PhD-level courses that broaden and deepen their knowledge in their field. Given that most HKS courses and seminars are targeted to practitioners more so than scholars, and typically do not serve as PhD-level courses, at least part of students’ special fieldwork will be carried out at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences or at other Harvard graduate schools.
At the beginning of each academic year, students submit their study plan, including the syllabi for their proposed courses in their special field of interest, to the Doctoral Program Office for approval. They can choose from a number of concentrations in different fields, among which include the three pre-approved primary fields listed below.
Issues related to the natural environment, and the availability and quality of resources and services derived from it have long been important determinants of the human condition in industrialized and developing countries. Among these issues are:
Policy challenges arise locally and globally. They cut across public and private interests and responsibilities, link current actions to consequences extending into the distant future, and are discussed for resolution and policy action at all levels of government, from village councils to the United Nations.
Such issues can often be best understood by using approaches that address and integrate different disciplines such as:
The challenges facing the developing world have never been greater. While many developing societies have made significant economic advances in the last few decades, large parts of the world remain mired in poverty. Even for middle-income countries in Latin America or East Asia, economic insecurity and reform fatigue hamper progress.
The globalization of the world economy has created new opportunities for poor countries by providing access to international trade and investment. It has also generated new risks in financial instability and limited their ability to work towards national developmental goals. Despite growing evidence of what has and has not worked in the past, ideas about what constitutes desirable development policies are in flux.
How can poor countries achieve sustainable and equitable economic growth in a setting that is socially and politically stable? International development focuses on this central question.
The International Development field is inherently multidisciplinary. Research competence requires rigorous training in economics and quantitative methods – at the same level of training as leading PhD programs in economics – as well as in public management, and legal and political analysis. It also demands immersion in comparative economic history to distill the lessons of successful and unsuccessful development experiences. Depending on students’ research areas, it may also require extensive study of fields such as public health, demography, and ecology.
This interdisciplinary field looks to understand and improve the judgment and decision making skills of individuals, groups, and organizations. The field is grounded in theories and methods drawn from psychology and economics but builds on key insights from organizational behavior, philosophy, statistics, and management science.
A typical course incorporates the following aspects of decision making:
A PhD-level course will also discuss research methods, including how to design and analyze surveys, as well as economic, psychological, and neuroscientific experiments.
Harvard Kennedy School has great energy and resources to draw from for this special field. HKS is an important hub at Harvard for multidisciplinary (economics, psychology, and organizational behavior) research, teaching, and outreach on the Judgment and Decision Making field, which has a proud history with Thomas Schelling and Howard Raiffa as its pioneers.