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What problems do developing countries face, and how can individuals contribute to solutions rather than await the largesse of the state or other actors?


This fall, students can enroll in Contemporary Developing Countries: Entrepreneurial Solutions to Intractable Problems (GENED 1011 offered jointly as HBS 1266; GSE A-819; HLS 2543; HKS DEV-338; and GSD: SES 5375), which meets Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00-4:15pm. The course is co-taught by Tarun Khanna, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School and Director, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute; Satchit Balsari, Emergency Medicine, Harvard Medical School FXB Center for Health and Human Rights / HSPH; Krzysztof Gajos, Gordon McKay Professor of Computer Science, Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; Doris Sommer, Ira Jewell Williams, Jr. Professor of Romance Languages, Literature and African and African American Studies; and Rahul Mehrotra, Professor of Urban Design and Planning Graduate School of Design.

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


To learn more, check out our Canvas page. For specific queries about the course, please contact Head Teaching Fellow, Hansong Li.