This Harvard Kennedy School field class gives students hands on experience to equip them with the tech and innovation skills to tackle real problems in government.
The last five years have seen the founding and growth of national digital services units (e.g. Government Digital Services in the U.K., and the U.S. Digital Services) and municipal tech and innovation units (e.g. Boston and Philadelphia's Offices of New Urban Mechanics). The scope and ambition of these efforts vary, but they center around making government better with a focus on understanding user needs, making iterative improvements, and using modern technology.
Separated into teams of five, students work closely with a government client to research an important user problem, develop user insights, rapidly design and build prototypes, user-test, and if relevant, develop a plan for the project to continue. Student teams also make actionable recommendations to their clients, based on what they have learned during the research and prototyping phases.
DPI-663 students learn user-centered design, prototyping, user-testing, and most importantly, how to hack bureaucracies with empathy to get stuff done.