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Several new faculty members across a wide range of policy areas are joining Harvard Kennedy School this fall. We take this opportunity to introduce them to the HKS community.
Janina Matuszeski is a lecturer in public policy. Her interests include program evaluation, development economics, political economy and research involving digital map data (GIS). Most recently she worked for Oxfam America as senior research coordinator of the Community Finance Department, overseeing the operations and impact research for Oxfam America’s Saving for Change microsavings program in Mali, Senegal, Cambodia, El Salvador and Guatemala.
Q: What brought you to the Kennedy School?
Matuszeski: After working as a monitoring and evaluation practitioner for almost five years at Oxfam America, I am excited to teach students at the Kennedy School and take advantage of the school's resources. Having been in the academic world as a PhD student and then in the international development INGO world at Oxfam, I feel I have a small kernel of experience from which to teach students, start conversations and learn further myself from students' ideas and experiences. The School also has tremendous resources in the various centers from which I hope to gain new ideas and insights.
Q: What are your primary areas of research?
Matuszeski: I have been out of academic research for five years, conducting practical evaluations of a micro savings (microfinance) project. My PhD research was in political economy, particularly working with mapping data to answer questions about ethnic group geographic patterns and country success.
My other interest areas include macroeconomcs, development economics (specifically household livelihoods and financial management in developing countries), and program evaluation. I have worked in a practical manner at Oxfam, trading ideas and expertise with staff from that organization and other international NGOs, so a key interest now is when and how best to use mixed method approaches, with qualitative and quantitative methods building on one another.
Q: What courses will you be teaching?
Matuszeski: In the fall, I will teach one section of API-101 C, Markets and Market Failure, which is microeconomics . For the spring semester, I will teach game theory as well as a practical course in program evaluation.
Q: How can the work being done here at HKS help address some of the world’s most significant public policy challenges?
Matuszeski: Having come from economics and then spending many years at Oxfam America working alongside colleagues with backgrounds in agricultural economics, anthropology, political science, sociology, social psychology, monitoring and evaluation, law and business management, I found that the lens of each discipline provided key insights and solutions. Such collaboration will never be conflict-free but differences of opinion are often semantic or are due to the particular academic traditions of each discipline, which more conversations can reveal.
I see the Kennedy School as another space where this kind of cross-boundaries thinking is routine and therefore as a place for cutting edge analysis to address the world's most challenging public policy problems.
Q: What are you currently reading?
Matuszeski: "Real World Evaluation" by Bamberger, Rugh and Mabry which Oxfam colleagues recommended to me as a practical guide for evaluation practice. I'm interested to see how it compares to the way program evaluation is considered here at the Kennedy School. Also, I'm reading Dan Khaneman's, "Thinking Fast and Slow" although I am probably reading it too fast for it to really stick. The main idea seems straighforward to me but the details of the many experiments are overwhelming.
Finally, I often dip into back issues of The Economist magazine which seemed to accumulate by my bedside thanks in part to twins who just turned one.