I. History and Accomplishments
Tech4Change is a student-run Professional Interest Council at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). The group was established in 2012 to assist HKS to train tech-aware, innovative leaders and generate ideas that harness information and communication technologies to help solve our most challenging problems.
Over the past years, Tech4Change has moved from strength to strength. In Fall 2014, we conducted a survey to understand the demand for technology-related offerings at HKS. We found that 94% of students agreed or strongly agreed that technology was important to their future career plans. However, while a majority of students are interested in pursuing additional courses (68%) and workshops (82%) to learn about technology policy and develop technical skills, 45% are unsatisfied or extremely unsatisfied with HKS resources in this area. In response, we presented our findings to the HKS community including students, faculty, administrators, research centers, and the Academic Affairs Committee. Working with the support of more than a dozen student groups and research centers, we held an HKS Technology Summit in Spring 2015. Students, faculty, administration and staff all met together to discuss the results of the survey and come up with a plan of action.
As a result, CS50 (Intro to Computer Science) and two other data science electives were added to the list of preapproved classes at HKS and Jim Waldo, Harvard’s Chief Technology Officer, agreed to teach a full semester course about the promise and peril of policymaking in the cyber sphere. In Fall 2015, we also ran our first technical skills workshop (Intro to Python and data scraping).
II. Mission and Vision
Recent debates ranging from cyber security to the failed Obamacare website demonstrate the importance of technology in domestic and international policymaking. At the same time, social entrepreneurs are relying more heavily on technology to spur change - take for example the use of Twitter during the Arab Spring and e-democracy startups OpenGov and Agora. Tomorrow’s leaders must be technically literate and must understand how the digital revolution affects every field - from education and health care to international development and foreign policy.
Given this new role of technology in policy, entrepreneurship and social change, Tech4Change is committed to any opportunity that offers students the chance to develop technology skills or knowledge. This mission ranges from hard skills to specific policy applications in a variety of disciplines. Fundamentally, we believe that that the leaders of tomorrow will have the skills and knowledge necessary to use technology to its fullest extent, and HKS should be leading the charge in providing its students with these competencies.
III. Strategic Goals
In 2015-2016, our priorities are to:
Map the technology needs and priorities of students and Faculty at HKS.
Create practical opportunities for HKS students to develop technical skills.
Increase awareness and accessibility to technology-related academic and career opportunities.
Expand technology-related course offerings, cases and Faculty at HKS.
- Collaborate with Faculty, HKS research centers and other technology-focused student groups to push forward these goals.
Co-chairs: May Samali and Loren Newman
VP Communications and Marketing: Kelly Peaton and Katrina Geddes
VP Academic Affairs: Betsy Ribble and Alen Amini
VP Careers: Rui Zhang and Nidhi Badaya
VP Finance and Sponsorship: Peter Willis
Director of External Relations: Sooah Cho
Chief Technology Officer: Aaron Myran