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Fall 2021 Course

Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social and Economic Problems

Prerequisites: None

Exam Type: No Exam

What problems do developing countries face, and how can individuals contribute to solutions rather than awaiting the largesse of the state or other actors? Intractable problems – such as lack of access to education and healthcare, forced reliance on contaminated food, deep-seated corruption – are part of the quotidian existence of the vast majority of five of the world’s seven billion people. Developing societies suffer from what we refer to as ‘institutional voids’ that make organized activities of all sorts difficult; think of the mundane but important physical infrastructure that allows us to get to work or school in the developed world, as well as our access to higher-order institutions such as the availability of information at our fingertips or the security of the rule of law. The course demonstrates that reflecting upon the nature of the developing world’s intractable problems through different lenses helps characterize candidate interventions to address them. The scientist’s hypothesis-driven and iterative experimentation, the artist’s imagined counterfactuals through putting oneself in others’ shoes literally and theatrically, and the planner’s top-down articulation of boundary conditions, all tailor the ultimate solution.

Note: This course is jointly listed with the following schools: Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) as GENED 1011, Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) as DEV-338, Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) as SES 5375, and Harvard Law School (HLS) as 2543. This course follows the FAS academic calendar and will meet on the FAS campus in Sever Hall 113.

In addition to Professor Khanna, the following faculty will co-teach this course:

Satchit Balsari, Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School FXB Center for Health and Human Rights / HSPH

Krzysztof Gajos, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences

Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams, Jr. Professor of Romance Languages, Literature and African and African American Studies

Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning Graduate School of Design