The Innovation Field Lab provides a one-of-a-kind experiential learning environment for students who are interested in improving performance, innovation and leading change in cities. Sponsored by the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at HKS, the Innovation Field Lab works with five small- and medium-sized cities in Massachusetts on new ways to solve public problems. The topic of this year’s work is blight and problem properties.
The class meets on Mondays from 4pm to 8pm (light dinner included) for case discussions, lectures, simulations and workshops facilitated by Dr. Jorrit de Jong (HKS Lecturer and Faculty Director of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative) and Mayor Joseph Curtatone (Mayor of Somerville, Senior Fellow at HKS and MC/MPA alumnus). Additionally, student teams will meet once a week, either on campus or in the cities they are assigned to.
The course has three segments: Discovery, Design, and Delivery.
In the Discovery Phase, students will familiarize themselves with the social and administrative realities in the cities they have been assigned to. Students will learn to apply foundational frameworks of strategic innovation, collaborative governance, performance management, and public leadership.
In the Design Phase, students will focus on designing new practices that address the challenges they have identified. Using concepts and skills learned in the course, as well as from other courses and prior experiences, students will help cities reinvent practice. Designs will be iterated and improved through dialogue with city staff.
Finally, in the Delivery Phase, students will think about the challenges of implementation and craft an effective strategy to deliver their innovation package to the Mayor of their city in a compelling way. The course will culminate in a final session on Campus where each team will present their proposals in front of a panel of the cities’ government leaders.
The work will be demanding, but rewarding. Students should expect to be continually challenged: innovation in the real world requires creativity, patience, persistence, and teamwork that brings together political, technical, and analytical skills. This course is for students who are willing to go the extra mile and are comfortable with the inevitable uncertainty associated with making change.
MLD-621 will have limited enrollment, and will not go through the traditional registration and bidding process. The course aims to admit a balanced group of students, with complementary skills and experiences.