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With ongoing and growing economic challenges across racial, socioeconomic, and geographic lines, economic development continues to be top priority for state and local leaders. At the Taubman Center, we connect Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) students with a passion for and interest in learning about economic development with leading economic development thinkers and doers from around the country to engage on best practices and shared challenges. 

Economic Development Seminar


The Taubman Center’s monthly non-credit Economic Development seminar provides HKS students the opportunity to connect with leading state and local economic development practitioners from across the country, learn about economic development strategies, and gain a deeper understanding of which economic development strategies are working, which aren’t, and why. 

The seminar brings a different leading economic development practitioner or thought leader to HKS each month to speak with students during a breakfast session, network during an evening social, and meet one-on-one during office hours. Students gain a better understanding of the competitive, complex, and changing field of economic development.

Application Process

The application for the 2022-2023 Economic Development Seminar is open and applications are due September 15, 2022. Apply here

To learn more about the seminar, attend our info session on September 13, 6-7 p.m. at HKS in R-414AB David T. Ellwood Democracy Lab and read our FAQs below. 

What is the format of the seminar?

The seminar will take place over the course of six sessions spread throughout the academic year. Each session will have a pre-reading of approximately 30-60 minutes to inform and spark discussion between students and speakers. See below for a typical session schedule: 

  • Social with seminar speakers and students: Held the evening prior to the seminar session from 6-7 p.m., this Thursday evening social allows students to meet with speakers in a fun and informal setting.
  • Breakfast seminar session: Students meet for a 90-minute session with speakers held Friday mornings, 9:00 - 10:30 a.m. Speakers will share brief remarks to complement the pre-reading, leaving the majority of the time for discussion facilitated by Taubman Center Executive Director Rafael Carbonell. 
  • Speaker Office Hours + Mentoring: After each breakfast session, students have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with seminar speakers to discuss career advice and connections.  

This format is intended to foster dynamic discussion, the sharing of different perspectives, and active participation by all students. 

Who should apply for the seminar?

This  seminar is for HKS students from all degree programs (MPP, MPA, MPA/ID, MC/MPA, Joint & Concurrent) who have an interest in economic development. Students need not be experts on the topic, but they should have an interest in applying what they learn to positively influence state and local government economic development policy and decision making, either by serving as or in collaboration with public sector leaders.    

What is the application process?

A very short application is required for consideration to participate in the seminar series. Apply here!
 

When will the seminar meet?
  • September 1: Application opens
  • September 15: Applications due at 9 a.m. ET
  • September 21: Seminar participants selected
  • September 27: Evening cohort meet + greet
  • September 29-October 2: Rural Trek to Vermont, departure September 29 evening
  • October 20 + 21: Session 1
  • November 17 + 18: Session 2
  • January 26 + 27: Session 3
  • March 2 + 3: Session 4
  • March 30 + 31: Session 5
  • April 27 + 28: Session 6
What topics are covered during the seminar?

The focus of this seminar is on domestic U.S.  economic development.  Topics include economic development theory and practice, with specific examples and case studies from across the country. Common themes may include: 

  • The role government, private sector, and philanthropic entities in providing economic development assistance and funding,
  • The economic development strategies these entities employ, 
  • The scale at which economic development work happens, whether at the state, regional, or city level, 
  • How to measure the impact of these efforts, and 
  • How equitable economic development practices are employed. 
     
What type of speakers can I expect from the seminar?

Speakers will include thought leaders and practitioners with diverse backgrounds from different regions of the U.S. Past speakers include: 

  • Stephen Moret, President & CEO of Strada Education, and former President & CEO of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, which led the successful recruitment of Amazon’s HQ2
  • Alejandra Lopez, City of San Antonio’s Director of Economic Development
  • Celina Barrios-Millner, City of Boston’s Director of Equity & Inclusion
  • Rod Miller, CEO of Invest Puerto Rico
     
How many students are accepted into the seminar?

Approximately 25-30 students will be selected to participate for the series.   

What is expected of seminar participants?

Students are expected to attend the rural economic development trek to Vermont, and all monthly sessions, including the social activities the evening prior to each session. Students are also expected to do the pre-reading (approximately one hour) prior to each session.

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