Contemporary South Asia: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social & Economic Problems

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Fall 2014 Course
Meets: M, W 3:30pm - 5:00pm
3 classroom credits

This course focuses on several categories of social and economic problems faced by the countries of South Asia, with specific focus on the realms of Public Health, Science-based Enterprises, Urban Design and Financial Inclusion. Each problem category will be dealt with through a survey lecture, supplemented by assigned and recommended readings for those wishing to explore the topic further, and an in-depth look at several organizations, companies and non-profits that have attempted to address some of the problems within that category.

The primary objective of the course is to engage students (in an inter-disciplinary and university-wide setting) with the modern day challenges affecting South Asia, and to examine a range of entrepreneurial attempts to solve these problems. The course will be listed at HBS, FAS, HSPH, HGSE, HLS, HMS & HKS and will be taught by several faculty members from different schools. The mixture of backgrounds is crucial for its success.

The lectures and deep-dive case studies are the core of the course and will review the available evidence on the incidence, causes and consequences of the problem in question. Additionally, we will draw extensively on video and film materials when relevant. Case studies of each solution will examine whether and why it worked, and how it could have been improved, as well as compare the effort to other ambient successes and failures. The case studies will be discussed interactively and might feature the protagonists wherever feasible. Grading for the course is based on class participation, some short assignments that are module-specific, and a team project due at the end of the course. Each team must mix and match students from more than one Harvard school (thus, for example, a team of lawyers will not do, but mixing them with doctors or public health or public policy students will). The idea of the project is to present a candidate solution - this may take the form of a business plan, a plan to build a non-profit, a plan to create a regulatory intervention - that solves a crisply stated, and significant, problem in a particular setting in South Asia.

After the course, but not as a part of it, teams that reach a threshold level of excellence in their project reports may be eligible for funding through the South Asia Initiative for exploratory work on their project.

Note:The course will meet on the FAS campus in Sever Hall 113. The first day of class is September 3.

Subject Areas: International, Comparative & Foreign Law .