We help cities, states, and countries improve public services for their citizens.

Lab Results

The Government Performance Lab, led by Jeffrey Liebman, Malcolm Wiener Professor of Public Policy and director of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government, works with state and local governments to improve public services. To address the growing problem of homelessness in Seattle, the lab provided pro bono technical assistance to the mayor’s office, the city’s human services department, and five service contractors as they reworked homeless services contracts.

Field Work

Our experiential learning courses give students the opportunity to work on real problems in local governments. Our field courses include “Greater Boston Applied Field Lab: Advanced Budgeting, Financial Management and Operations” and “Innovation Field Lab,” which pairs students with local government leaders in five Massachusetts cities to solve public problems.

Students in the Greater Boston Applied Field Lab experiential learning course visited the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority control center in downtown Boston.

Training Mayors

The Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative Initiative engages mayors and their senior staff from cities around the world. This initiative is a joint program of Harvard Kennedy School and Harvard Business School, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and led by Jorrit de Jong, senior lecturer in public policy and management.

Jorrit de Jong, senior lecturer in public policy and management, trains mayors and other city leaders as part of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.

Creating Social Change

Julie Battilana, Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation, leads the Social Innovation and Change Initiative, which examines how to create and implement sustainable social change. Through the Cheng Fellowship, the initiative provides financial support to students tackling pressing social problems through innovation by governments, nonprofit organizations, and for-profit enterprises.

“We have a hundred years of research on how to maximize commercial value; it’s time to focus on understanding how to generate social value.”

Julie Battilana, Alan L. Gleitsman Professor of Social Innovation

Getting Smart and Going Digital

Data-Smart City Solutions is helping 100 mid-sized American cities use data to improve services. The project is led by Stephen Goldsmith, Daniel Paul Professor of the Practice of Government, director of the Innovations in American Government Program, and former mayor of Indianapolis and deputy mayor of New York. David Eaves, lecturer in public policy, leads the Kennedy School’s digital HKS project, which is creating new courses and case studies that help students learn the perspectives and tools needed to thrive in a digital age. Eaves has been named to Apolitical’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people in digital government.

Banner photo: The Social Innovation and Change Initiative Studio is a dedicated space on campus for student social innovators to collaborate.

Photos by Richard Howard and courtesy the Ash Center

Learn more about expanding economic opportunity