Tuesday, April 17th  

Registration/Sessions: HKS, Taubman Building, 5th floor
Cocktail/Dinner: HKS Dining area and Wexner Commons

4:00pm – 4:45pm Registration
4:45pm – 5:00pm  Welcome Remarks

Nancy Gibbs, Visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

5:00pm – 5:50pm  Opening Session: An Agenda for Economic Development

Ricardo Hausmann, Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University

5:50pm – 7:20pm Keynote Conversation: The Moral Sentiment of "Us"

Large-scale cooperation has been at the very core of the evolution of our species from hunter-gatherer primates to the most complex and successful species on the globe. Our moral sentiments have evolved to sustain cooperation, to prioritize the success of the group over the individual. Nonetheless, not all groups are created equal as we find immense variation on what it takes to belong to a given cohesive community. Facilitating cooperation across diverse groups that do not share beliefs, worldviews and preferences is paramount to the future success of humanity. To address this challenge the "dismal science" may need to move away from its simplified view of human behavior – homo economicus – and incorporate relevant findings from moral psychology, anthropology and evolutionary biology, in order to get at the true drivers of collaboration. In this session we will discuss: How can we explain the breadth and intensity of human cooperation?, What drives innovation and cultural evolution? How do people learn and transmit culture?, How do groups with different identities form, coexist and cooperate?, How can these elements help explain the tension around key policy issues? How can they signal a way forward?

Joseph Henrich, Professor in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology of Harvard University, author of Why Humans Cooperate, Experimenting with Social Norms and The Secret of Our Success: How Culture is Driving Human Evolution, Domesticating our Species, and Making us Smarter

Jonathan Haidt, Professor of Ethical Leadership at New York University's Stern School of Business, author of The Happiness Hypothesis: Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom and The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion

Moderated by: Nancy Gibbs, Visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

7:20pm – 8:00pm 


8:00pm – 9:30pm Dinner

Wednesday, April 18th  

All Sessions: HKS, Taubman Building, 5th floor

8:00am-8:45am Breakfast
8:45am-9:00am Welcome Remarks

Nancy Gibbs, Visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

9:00am-10:30am Session One: The Political Economy of "Us" – How Does Identity Shape Politics and Policies?

Political decisions have often been thought as aggregations of individual preferences. But this homo economicus view of human nature does not take into account that, at our core, we are deeply social being where feelings of belonging, distinctness, status, appropriate behavior, deserved punishment and imitation shape the way we behave in social and political settings. Development economics has been looking at the way culture, norms and acceptable behavior impact technological adoption and political decisions. Political sociology has been looking at the way people’s conception of the nation and of its rightful members impact their political preferences. In this session, we will discuss: How can historical factors shape the evolution of institutions across societies? What drives alternative conceptions of nationhood or identity? How persistent are these conceptions over time? How prevalent are they in different geographies? How can these elements shape the design space for policy-making? Can this space be reshaped? And how do recent challenges to democracy are being shaped as by reinterpretations of who the people are?

Nathan Nunn, Frederic E. Abbe Professor of Economics at Harvard University, NBER Faculty Research Fellow, Research Fellow at BREAD, co-editor of the Journal of Development Economics

Bart Bonikowski, Associate Professor of Sociology at Harvard University, Resident Faculty at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, co-organizer of the Culture and Social Analysis Workshop, the CES Study Group on Populism, Nationalism, and Radical Politics, Director of Undergraduate Programs at the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, and co-Director of the Weatherhead Research Cluster on Global Populism  

Yascha Mounk, Lecturer on Government at Harvard University, Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America, Executive Director at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change and author of Stranger in My Own Country - A Jewish Family in Modern Germany, The Age of Responsibility – Luck, Choice and the Welfare State and The People versus Democracy – Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It

Moderated by: Robert Lawrence, Albert L. Williams Professor of International Trade and Investment, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, and Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research

10:30am-10:50am Break

Session Two: E Pluribus Unum: How to Overcome the Tension between Diversity and Social Cohesion to Make the Most of "Us

Civic participation, social solidarity, shared identities and adherence to common social norms are all perceived to be characteristics of successful societies. Similarly, diversity in backgrounds, experiences and productive knowledge has been linked to high-levels of productivity, creativity and innovation. This seems to hold true everywhere from teams, to companies to entire countries.   Nonetheless, policymakers are concerned that it may be difficult to simultaneously pursue these dual goals, as in some contexts increased diversity has been linked with an erosion of public trust, a reduction of civic engagement and increased societal conflict. Therefore, holistically enhancing prosperity may entail a better understanding of the relationship between diversity and social cohesion, as well as identifying courses of action that minimize the probability of adverse results whilst fully taking advantage of the potential of increased diversity. In this session we will discuss: What is the nature of the relationship between increased diversity and social cohesion?, What are the relevant mechanisms through which this relationship operates? In which contexts does this occur? What implications may this relationship have in terms of policy outcomes and broader policy design (i.e.: Migration policy, urban planning, and social policy)? What relevant courses of actions can be pursued by governments, businesses and civic groups?

Dr. Robert W. Livingston, Lecturer of Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School of Government

Neli Demireva, Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Essex University, Coordinator and Principal Investigator for the “Growth, Equal Opportunities, Migration and Markets” project

Merlin Schaeffer, Professor of Demography and Social Inequality at the Institute of Sociology and Social Psychology at the University of Cologne, Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of International Migration at UCLA

Moderated by: Marshall Ganz, Senior Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government


Lunch Keynote

Political discourse is routinely grounded in the idea that social progress has been somehow derailed. In this same vein, public debates are largely shaped by eye-catching headlines that highlight alleged failures of existing societal arrangements. The perception that the world around us is under unprecedented disarray tends to be exploited by those that seek widespread transformative changes to the way we organize ourselves, pursue prosperity and enable cooperation. However, these views are not always grounded in fact. In a vast number of metrics human progress has been generalized, sustained and of historical proportions. In order to sustain this trend it is vital that we understand what has enabled this performance; how have doom-and-gloom perceptions become entrenched and how can we continue to enhance what has worked so far. In this session we will discuss: What has been the long-run evolution of health, prosperity, safety, peace and happiness? How prevalent are these trends?, Which have been the primary drivers behind this performance? What stands to derail this overarching trend? How can we reconcile these trends with periods of widespread conflict or profound individual tragedies?, How should this long-run performance inform the way we pursue business, policy and our daily lives?

Steven Pinker, Johnstone Family Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, author of The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature and  Enlightenment Now: The case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress

Moderated by: Nancy Gibbs, Visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

1:50pm-3:20pm Session Three:  Who Should Get to Be a Part of "Us": The Challenges of Migration Policy Making

The implementation of technology requires knowhow that is often distributed across many individuals. The diffusion of knowhow to people and places that do not yet possess it requires prolonged interaction with the people that do possess it. This is more easily done through human mobility. A large literature has documented the importance of migration, return migration and diasporas in the diffusion of technology. In addition, migrants often bring with them entrepreneurship, professional and vocational skills that may complement those of residents, while they enhance the cultural diversity of nations. Nevertheless, migration has proven to be a contentious political issue worldwide, spawning a wide-range of hotly debated concerns including fears of economic displacement, cultural encroachment and concerns over fiscal burdens. While the issue has received much attention in industrialized nations, it has been much less discussed in developing countries, where immigration and labor laws thwart the attraction of foreign talent. Often, these restrictions emanate from the attempt to protect “us” from “them.” By the same token, enterprising foreigners search for places where they might eventually feel part of “us.” Hence, unlocking the potential of global mobility is made easier in societies that have a more open sense of us. How can origin and destination countries benefit from migration? Which policy tools have proven to be more effective in balancing the benefits and perceived risks of immigration? What can be done to facilitate the economic and social integration of migrants? How can countries make the most of their diasporas abroad or within? What are the main internal challenges faced by policymakers in designing migration policy?

Ljubica Nedelkoska, Research Fellow at the Center for International Development at Harvard University

Nirmalan Wigneswaran, Senior State Counsel, Attorney General Department, Sri Lanka

Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice-president and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama

Moderated by: Lant Pritchett, Professor of the Practice of International Development at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Senior Fellow of the Center for Global Development




Keynote Session:  The Tyrannical Temptation: Are Freedom and Democracy in Peril?

After the end of the Cold War, liberal democracy was thought to have gained an absolute and definitive victory. Now we know this declaration to have been premature.  Liberal democracy has always faced challenges based on the contradiction between its two elements. Liberalism involves the equal protection of individual rights, while democracy involves the rule of the majority, which may trample on those rights. Recent populist challenges represent an attack against the liberal component of the mix, while maintaining elections. Others argue that democracy is being hollowed out by delegating key aspects of public policy to unelected technocratic institutions such as the European Commission or Central Banks. Also, populism involves a redefinition of “us” the people and its enemies, while liberal democracy has tended to emphasize mainly the rights of the individual, eschewing a discourse on the collective. Under which circumstances can liberal democracies be maintained? How can they become a sustainable political equilibrium? How are they challenged or undone? What process leads to their consolidation or ruin? How are the threats we are facing now similar or different to those prevalent in the twentieth century? What can we learn from previous experiences? What role can different relevant stakeholders play in shaping this future?

Steven Levitsky, Professor of Government at Harvard University, author of Transforming Labor-Based Parties in Latin America: Argentine Peronism in Comparative Perspective, Competitive Authoritarianism: Hybrid Regimes after the Cold War, and How Democracies Die

Dani Rodrik, Ford Foundation Professor of International Economy at the Harvard Kennedy School and author of Economics Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science, The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy and One Economics, Many Recipes: Globalization, Institutions and Economic Growth

Moderated by: Michael Petrou, Martin Wise Goodman Canadian Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, long-time foreign correspondent reporting on conflict, revolution and democratic movements across the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Historian and the author of a history of Canadians in the Spanish Civil War


Keynote Session:  The Road to Unfreedom: How our Intuitive Sense of Us and Them Makes us Vulnerable to Tyranny

The world seems to be in a path of de-democratization. But this is not the first bu the third time this happens. What can be learned from previous experiences? What are the connections between today’s authoritarianism and those of the past? Does democracy require shared factuality -a shared understanding of the facts of objective reality within epistemic communities - and is this now being challenged? Are these epistemic communities breaking down? If so, what are the fault lines of that breakdown? Are new technologies making us more vulnerable to psychological manipulation relative to the propaganda of previous decades? And how does this manipulation work? 

Timothy Snyder, Richard C. Levin Professor of History at Yale University and Permanent Fellow at the Institute of Human Sciences in Vienna, author of  Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century and The Origins of Unfreedom: Russia, Europe, America

Moderated by: Nancy Gibbs, Visiting Edward R. Murrow Professor of Practice of Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School of Government

5:50pm-6:00pm Closing Remarks

Ricardo Hausmann, Professor of the Practice of Economic Development at the Harvard Kennedy School and Director of the Center for International Development at Harvard University

6:00pm-7:00pm Reception