Special Edition  |  COVID-19 Update  |  May 22, 2020
Farm workers in California with protective gear. Photo by Brent Stirton


En route to senior World Bank role, HKS Professor Carmen Reinhart warns of COVID-driven food crisis

Carmen M. Reinhart, a renowned expert on international financial crises, has been appointed chief economist and vice president of the World Bank Group. Since 2012, Reinhart has been the Minos A. Zombanakis Professor of the International Financial System at the Kennedy School; she will take a two-year leave of absence from HKS while she is at the World Bank. In a Q&A with the Harvard Gazette coinciding with the announcement of her appointment, Reinhart says she believes the financial crisis that has exploded during the pandemic will not end until the underlying public health crisis itself is overcome. In another commentary published this week she assesses what governments can do to help prevent COVID-19 from causing food crises. The core message: “governments must work together to address the risk of disruptions to food supply chains.”


Scholars’ campaign: Let’s democratize and decommodify work

With COVID-19 ravaging economies, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Julie Battilana and colleagues issued an urgent plea: We need to transform the way we work. She and her collaborators called for changes in three dimensions: democratizing companies, decommodifying work, and creating sustainable policies that benefit the environment. The op-ed they wrote had global reach: it was cosigned by more than 5,000 researchers from universities around the world—including nearly 40 associated with Harvard University—and was published this past weekend in more than 40 newspapers in 36 countries, with a website and hashtag: #democratizingwork. The goal is to spark wider debate on the future of work among academics, the public sector, civil society, businesses, and citizens. One idea: a “job guarantee,” assuring all people access to work that allows them to live with dignity. She explained the goals in a Q&A with the Harvard Gazette. Battilana is on the faculties of the Kennedy School and Harvard Business School—and she is the founder and faculty chair of the Kennedy School’s Social Innovation + Change Initiative.



Meghan O’Sullivan on the impact of the pandemic on world oil markets


Voting in the time of COVID-19

The Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation has been holding events to debate the challenges posed by the pandemic to justice and democracy. According to Professor Archon Fung, who leads the Ash Center’s Democratic Governance Programs, the series, called “Democracy and Justice During Pandemic,” explores the most promising ideas and work that aim to meet these challenges and build foundations for deeper democracy and greater justice in the aftermath of COVID-19. The video recording of this week’s event, “Voting in the Time of COVID-19: Can We Make it Work,” is available online, with speakers offering 10 recommendations for a healthy and trustworthy 2020 general election and arguing in favor of the dramatic expansion of absentee and drive-through voting.



I think COVID-19 is the nail in the coffin of globalization.

Carmen Reinhart, Kennedy School professor and newly appointed chief economist at the World Bank, speaking to the Harvard Gazette


  • Spend fossil-fuel subsidies on pandemic relief and the poor [Rema Hanna] Project Syndicate

  • Never go back to the office [Juliette Kayyem] The Atlantic

  • The United States forgot its strategy for winning cold wars [Stephen Walt] Foreign Policy

  • How the coronavirus pandemic will permanently expand government powers [Stephen Walt, Bruce Schneier] Foreign Policy

  • Harvard’s Reinhart and Rogoff say this time really is different [Carmen Reinhart] Bloomberg

  • The change in work culture post-pandemic [Juliette Kayyem] WGBH

  • Former White House advisor for four presidents says he’s saddened by what the presidency has become [David Gergen] WGBH

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