Iris Bohnet Photo

Iris Bohnet

Roy E. Larsen Professor of Public Policy
Director, The Women in Public Policy Program
Office Address
79 John F. Kennedy St. Taubman Bldg 110A

This field course uses insights from behavioral science to promote organizational health, in particular, as it relates to equality, diversity and inclusion. Getting and staying healthy includes preventing undesirable events from happening, detecting issues when they arise and mitigating against the consequences as they occur. To promote healthy behaviors, organizations typically rely on “soft” instruments such as awareness raising and appeals through training programs and information sharing, or “hard” instruments such as command-and-control through rules, carrots and sticks. This course argues that behavioral design or “nudges” offer a middle ground to establish healthy behaviors, often more powerful than awareness raising and less costly than shoves. In working with organizations across the sectors, we will design nudges promoting desired behaviors regarding effective talent management, organizational design that levels the playing field for all and inclusive culture. 

We treat lack of diversity and inclusion as a “want-should” dilemmas, where people know what they should be doing but then, do not get around to doing it. Behavioral design helps people bridge this intention-action gap. The course emphasizes evidence-based reasoning. Students will learn how to diagnose the “behavioral health” of an organization, design potential treatments for what is broken, and rigorously evaluate their impact, using big data analytics and experimentation. Students will work in groups and partner with an organization—a tech start-up having developed behaviorally inspired software to help organizations address these issues or an organization (company, government or International Organization) interested in advancing equality, diversity and inclusion through the use of behavioral design.

MLD-310 is offered at Harvard Kennedy School, with a limited number of seats reserved for cross-registrants from HBS and from across Harvard. Space permitting, auditors are welcome.

For Kennedy School students: please enroll using the standard HKS-process.

For cross-registrants: please email by August 30, 2017, that you would like to enroll in the class and include a short motivational statement.

For auditors: please email by August 30, 2017, that you would like to audit the class and include a short motivational statement.