Investing in Talent to Build a Thriving World for All

Where the rest of the world sees poverty, we see potential at the Center for International Development (CID).

We know we can build societies where all people thrive.


As the world emerges from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the fragility of the development gains made over the past decades is on full display. More people have been displaced from their homes because of conflict and climate than ever before. Social safety nets, already stretched thin before the pandemic, struggle to keep up with demand amid shrinking resources. Women, girls, and marginalized groups continue to suffer disproportionately from the effects of poverty and in extreme cases, gender apartheid in places like Afghanistan. Without a dramatic course correction, the world will fail to end poverty by 2030 as the United Nations committed in adopting the Sustainable Development Goals.

Despite all these complex challenges, here at the Center for International Development (CID) at Harvard University we see pathways to prosperity. We are reimagining how the international development sector can work, moving away from a charity-based approach of fighting poverty to investing in people as equal partners in creating communities, policies, and markets where all individuals can thrive. Whether it’s the work of our researchers in over 115 countries on sustainable and inclusive development, the passion and leadership of our undergraduate and graduate students across the university, or our dialogue with practitioners in every sector, we know by investing in global talent we can solve tomorrow’s challenges today.  

We made a big bet at CID in 2022 in launching a five-year “BCD” strategy to Build, Convene, and Deploy talent to create a thriving world for all.  As a research center at the Harvard Kennedy School that works university-wide, this means doubling down on the services we provide our faculty, programs, students, and academic and practitioner networks to invest in teaching and experiential learning, global convenings, and research opportunities. It requires thinking differently from how the center may have worked in the past, reaching out to new communities of faculty, students, alumni, and global networks that may have never worked with CID before. And it necessitates breaking down silos across the university to truly leverage the power and potential of a “One Harvard” approach.

We just completed the first academic year of this new strategic plan (2022-23) – and are excited to share with you the growing momentum here at CID. With a new leadership team now in place, a robust and growing Global Development Council, and a university-wide community of faculty and students, CID is poised to invest in the next generation of talent. Here’s a snapshot of what we accomplished in academic year 2022-23 and what's to come.    


CID teaches the current and next generation of leaders to think critically about development through trainings, degree programs, Executive Education, and experiential learning.

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CID launched several new initiatives to expand graduate and undergraduate student engagement including our inaugural Global Internship Program, Career Chats, Student Research Scholars Program, Ph.D. Development Retreat and Development Graduate Workshop, Study Group, and opportunities for hands-on learning as CID Student Ambassadors and student facilitators at our flagship Global Empowerment Meeting (GEM). GEM23, for instance, included “Climate Chats” with CID graduate student researchers, a climate art contest run by the undergraduate Harvard Climate Coalition, Climate Incubation Rooms led by student facilitators, Road to GEM podcast series produced by students, and even a video documentary created by student-led group, Outspoken Narrative. Growth Lab launched a part-time RA Program to engage students to work on research relevant to the program's ongoing projects which blend academic research and real-world policy engagements. Collectively, these hands-on learning experiences allowed students to deepen their subject matter expertise, learn best practices for successful convenings and dialogue, and expand their professional networks as they prepare for jobs after graduation.

CID programs and faculty trained and taught practitioners worldwide this year. Building State Capability trained 550 practitioners to use the Problem Driven Iterative Adaptation (PDIA) approach to solve complex public problems and improve the implementation of policies in 35 countries. Evidence for Policy Design’s Building Capacity to Use Research Evidence (BCURE) program trained 766 policymakers and civil servants on how to generate, use, and communicate data and evidence for more effective policymaking in places like Morocco. CID faculty taught executive education courses on topics including infrastructure for market economies, leading economic growth, smart policy design, migrant remittances and financial inclusion, and assessing effectiveness. Educating current and next generation policymakers on how to design, implement, and assess development strategies is fundamental to improving the lives of millions around the world.

Build By the Numbers
379 leaders joined Executive Education programs led by CID faculty affiliates
140 students engaged with CID through events, research, and experiential learning
66 students traveled to 21 countries for internships and research opportunities via CID


CID brings together leaders and thinkers from academia, government, private sector, civil society, and philanthropy to discuss development paradigms through conferences, speaker series, and events.

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CID tapped into Harvard’s unrivaled convening power to bring together researchers and practitioners here on campus and around the world to share research results and shape development policy. Our focus on bridging policy and research allows us to work with governments, multilaterals, companies, and funders to ensure that effective solutions are promoted and scaled. Examples of our engagement include:

  • Our Monday “Lunch on International Economic Policy” (LIEP) series hosted 21 faculty presenters on topics ranging from immigration in Latin America to female genital cutting to climate policies and international trade. 
  • Our Tuesday “Development Graduate Workshops” offered 32 students the opportunities to present their research to faculty and peers and engage in job market practice talks. 
  • Our Friday “Speaker Series” brought leading practitioners and academics to speak to students about topics including the debt crisis in developing countries to aid effectiveness to sustainable development models at provincial government levels.  
  • Growth Lab's “Development Talks” seminars featured conversations with policymakers and academics working on economic growth and development around the world, providing a platform to discuss analytical work centered on policy. 

At a country-level, CID spearheaded a Spotlight Series on Afghanistan bringing together five Harvard research centers to examine the gender, human rights, economic development, humanitarian aid, and political dynamics shaping the country under Taliban rule. We hosted a virtual discussion with the President of Sri Lanka as the island nation experiences its worst-ever economic crisis.  And we engaged in senior level policy dialogues with African leaders including the Vice President of Ghana, former Prime Minister of Mozambique, Minister of Youth in Zimbabwe, Minister of Digital Transformation in Togo, and current/former Finance Ministers from Namibia, The Gambia, Mozambique, Lesotho, and Burkina Faso. 

Convene by the numbers
Events featured diverse voices from around the world
Current and past government ministers joined CID events as keynote speakers and panelists
Countries represented by speakers at CID events


CID conducts and catalyzes new research to generate and apply evidence-based solutions to development problems through academic and practitioner collaborations. Our faculty affiliates are currently working in over 115 countries. CID research informs policymaking and has improved outcomes in education, food security, economic development, and beyond.

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At CID, we have a proven track record in generating evidence to produce new policy insights, applying those insights to inform program design, and adapting and scaling evaluated programs in other contexts. CID faculty published research papers in top journals over the past year on a range of issues from education to social protection to health to labor markets.

Examples of research include an examination of the ways political oversight can improve government responsiveness in settings with a modicum of party competition in Uganda by Pia Raffler; an analysis of the quality measures women prioritize over distance and consider essential when choosing a family planning facility in Pakistan by David Canning, and a detailed look at Ethiopia's growth challenges and insights into how the government and international community can unlock resilient, post-conflict economic recovery by the Growth Lab

Faculty published research in NBER, The Quarterly Journal of Economics, American Economic Review, Health Policy and Planning, and Comparative Political Studies. Our faculty have also written for outlets such as Project Syndicate, VoxDev, The Conversation, Foreign Affairs, Boston Globe, Devex, and more on issues including climate change and financing mitigation responses, the future of globalization, and threats of a global recession. 

As a center, we are mobilizing our global network by offering research grants through our funding competitions. This year, in partnership with Harvard Radcliffe Institute, CID launched the GEM Incubation Fund to support emerging solutions to the climate crisis in developing economies and incentivize new research collaborations with practitioners in international development. We are uniquely positioned to help catalyze evidence-informed innovations on pressing development issues by generating rigorous evidence and translating it into action. With an extensive global presence, we continue to engage collaborators around the world to conduct rigorous research, build capacity, share policy lessons, and scale-up effective programs. 

Deploy by the numbers
Publications published by CID faculty affiliates
Faculty Affiliates from nine Harvard schools make up our research community
Countries served as the focus for faculty research

We are proud of what CID accomplished this past year thanks to our faculty, programs, students, fellows, staff, partners, supporters, and champions.  As we plan for the second academic year of our BCD strategy in 2023-24, we are looking ahead at how we can deepen our research impact.  

Globally, CID will focus on connecting our research to practitioners on the front lines, translating and amplifying data and evidence-based approaches to inclusive and sustainable development.  We want to hear from new voices and the next generation of thinkers and doers who come from your community. At Harvard, CID will expand services and opportunities for our faculty, programs, and students including new finance and grants support for research, experiential learning and career opportunities for our students, and engagement with practitioner networks.  

We are excited to lay the groundwork next year for new global research initiatives in areas like education and gender. We want to build on the excellence of our degree programs, executive education, training, and learning opportunities for communities worldwide.  And we will continue to cultivate supporters to make sure we have the financial resources to fully invest in global talent. 

We can’t do this without you. Thank you for your partnership on our collective journey to build a thriving world for all. 

Asim I Khwaja e-signature



Asim I. Khwaja, CID Faculty Director 

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Fatema Z. Sumar, CID Executive Director 

CID Community Spotlights


Reshmaan Hussam

Assistant Professor of Business Administration


Chiedza Juru

Master in Public Administration, Class of 2023


Karim Sarhan

CID Research Fellow


Victoria Barnum

Program Coordinator and Faculty Assistant


Fundación Santo Domingo

Supporting work in Colombia

Previous Reports

Harvard CID's 2021 Annual Report
Harvard CID's 2020 Annual Report

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