Select Page

Fall 2019
Mondays and Wednesdays, 3:00–4:15 PM
Sever Hall 113

Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Social & Economic Problems will be available to Harvard College, FAS, GSAS, HBS, HGSE, HKS, and HLS students and will be co-taught by:  

  • Tarun Khanna, HBS
  • Satchit Balsari, HMS, HSPH
  • Krzysztof Gajos, SEAS
  • Rahul Mehrotra, GSD
  • Doris Sommer, FAS

Course Overview

This course provides a framework (and multiple lenses) through which to think about the salient economic and social problems of the developing world. The course is divided into five modules: an introduction that reviews various approaches to development and explores the importance of understanding problem-contexts; three thematic modules, each taught by a leader in their respective fields, which introduce the entrepreneurial lenses of the artist, scientist, and planner; and a concluding module that applies lessons learnt throughout the semester to specific problem contexts. The case study discussions included in these modules will cover challenges and solutions in fields as diverse as health, education, technology, urban planning, and arts and the humanities.

Over the course of the semester, all students will divide into teams that will each develop a business plan or grant proposal to tackle a chosen problem in a specific developing country/region. Students will draw inspiration, lessons, and cautionary notes from the wide range of case-studies discussed throughout the course. Assignments at the end of each module will help provide the necessary tools and steer students toward their final project. In past years, students have entered their projects into university-wide competitions, including the President’s Challenge and the Seed for Change Competition.


Course Objectives

  • To provide a framework with which to think about the salient economic and social problems of the developing world.
  • To view complex problems through a variety of disciplinary lenses and appreciate that each lens reveals different facets of any given problem.
  • To recognize that there are few “quick-fix” or universal solutions to intractable problems; effective solutions tend to be highly context-dependent.
  • To work in teams on a candidate entrepreneurial solution and demonstrate an appreciation of the tradeoffs involved in embracing that solution.