Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
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Keith Harper study group

Spring 2022 Practitioner-Led Study Groups

These not-for-credit study groups provide an opportunity for students to delve deeply into topics and apply theory and research to real world challenges. 


Confronting Difficult Choices in Promoting Human Rights and Advancing U.S. Interests 
Keith Harper

Meeting dates are Mondays, 3/7, 3/14, 4/4, 4/18, 4/25. Each session will meet from 1 - 2:30 p.m.


Leveraging Education in the Pursuit of Gender Equity
Kakenya Ntaiya

Meeting dates are Mondays, 2/28, 3/14, 4/4, 4/11, and 4/25. Each session will meet from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

Gender equality is the 5th goal in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and has dominated development discourse for centuries. Over the years, progress has been made towards gender equality for women. Countries have implemented laws to ensure women have equal access to political and economic leadership, they have addressed girls’ access to education and created strict laws to end harmful practices that hinder women and girls’ progress in general. Despite such progress, globally, women are still facing Gender Based Violence (GBV); they are more likely to be illiterate, poorer, and lack equal representation in political and economic leadership. 

The study group will explore how progress toward gender equality has been undermined further by the Covid-19 pandemic and how small non-governmental organizations tackle gender inequality to create a better world for women and girls in East Africa.

In the first sessions of the study group, we will learn how Kakenya’s Dream, as a small nongovernmental organization, leverages education to address harmful practices that hinder girls from continuing with their education in rural Kenya. We will then move to hear from expert guest speakers working at the local and global levels to address gender equity. The goal of the study group is to provide students with the space to explore their interest in the development field especially using the gender lens. 


Leadership and Governance in Challenging Times
Tom Perez

Meeting dates are Wednesdays, 2/16, 3/2, 3/9, and 3/16. Each session will meet from 1 to 2:30 p.m.

In today's turbulent times, the journey to form a more perfect union often appears as difficult as ever. The “shortest distance” theory feels to so many as if it is seldom part of the playbook of progress in Washington, DC or elsewhere. A host of factors have created an atmosphere of hyper partisanship in which effective governance is elusive, and principled compromise is frequently derided as a four letter word. As a result, public confidence in our public institutions, especially at the federal level, is at a low ebb.

I have had the privilege throughout nearly three decades of public service to work in all three branches of the federal government, as well as in state and local government. I have had the privilege of running for office, leading federal and state agencies (large and small), and working on Capitol Hill for Senator Edward Kennedy. Most recently, I led the Democratic National Committee from 2017 until earlier this year. I have experienced success and setbacks. My education at Brown laid an important ethical and academic foundation for my future work. At the same time, as a student, I frequently observed that there was a wide gap between what I was learning in the classroom, and how things actually got done in the real world.

A principal goal of this Study Group is to bridge the gap between theory and practice. Specifically, I want to give you a front row seat to problem solving in and around a government setting—the “how does it really happen (or not happen)” dimension that is often absent from traditional classroom dialogue.