War, inflation, public health crises—2022 has been nothing short of an eventful year. As leaders in public policy, HKS experts are often called upon to help make sense of breaking news and current events. As the new year approaches, let’s recap some of the insights shared by HKS experts on the past year’s biggest stories.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has been a defining event of the year. From geopolitics to sanctions to the role of misinformation, HKS scholars analyzed the Russian invasion of Ukraine and what it means for the world.
“No one wants a war on the European continent. It presents a global security threat, one that could easily escalate. It’s an extraordinarily dangerous situation. And there is also the economic impact – an enormous disruption in the global energy markets, not just gas and oil flows to Europe, but in the exacerbation of inflation,” commented Paul Kolbe, director of the Intelligence Project at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.
U.S. Supreme Court
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in a 6-3 vote, ending constitutional protection for abortion. HKS experts analyzed what this means for civil rights, American democracy, law, and policy.
“The decision also has potentially devastating implications for other rights, many longstanding and currently part of the social, historical, and moral fabric of America,” said Sarah Wald, adjunct lecturer in public policy and the HKS co-chair of the Joint Degree Program in Law and Policy.
With inflation at the highest level in decades, consumers experienced sticker shock on everything from food to cars to rent this year. HKS scholars and economists provided insight on inflation’s implications on domestic and global economies.
On the Inflation Reduction Act, Lawrence Summers, Harvard’s Charles W. Eliot University Professor, president emeritus, and former U.S. Treasury Secretary, remarked: “The net effect of this bill is going to be to reduce inflation, while at the same time doing very, very important things for the environment, very important things for fairness and access to health care, doing very important things in terms of strengthening the tax system by assuring that all who should pay, do pay.”
For three years now, COVID-19 has overwhelmed health care systems, changed our attitudes and behaviors around public health, been an impetus to scientific innovation, and reshaped the workplace. HKS faculty members and other experts examined lessons learned during the pandemic.
“Partnership between the public and private sectors has spurred tremendous innovation in vaccine development and distribution logistics, which will likely prove enormously beneficial in the future, both with routine vaccines and with future pandemics,” write Matthew Baum, the Marvin Kalb Professor of Global Communications, and John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics.
In October, Elon Musk took ownership of Twitter—and chaos ensued. Why should we care about what happens to Twitter? Read what HKS experts Nancy Gibbs, Juliette Kayyem, and Joan Donovan had to say on the subject.
“The other real issue facing us with Twitter is that Musk has dismantled much of the last decade of work that went into building engineering teams for content moderation and curation. And so, as a result, you just don’t have the same intellect working at that company as you did even just a few weeks ago,” commented Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy and adjunct lecturer in public policy.
Climate negotiators from around the world gathered for COP27 in Egypt in November. Robert Stavins, A.J. Meyer Professor of Energy & Economic Development and director of the Harvard Project on Climate Agreements, talked to the Harvard Gazette to highlight the summit’s successes and failures.
He remarked: “The most dramatic and contentious decision within the halls of COP27 — by the negotiators from 195 countries — was the establishment of a fund for so-called loss and damage. This is an issue that’s been kicked down the road for a long time.”