FULL POLICY REPORTS
Below you can find the finished reports provided to research policy mentors. Papers are produced by a team of Harvard Undergraduate research analysts to fill informational needs of public and private sector entities. Undergraduates work for one semester (4 months) with mentor guidance to produce reports. In addition, our organization provides training and expert connections to students in order to enhance research, writing, management and subject matter capabilities. Our organization also supervises analysts to ensure timely and quality production of reports to fit entity expectations. Depending on capacity and availability, groups that are capable present their work in person to mentors. Not all policy reports are made public due to confidentiality agreements with government entities.
U.S. SPACE FORCE
Almost half a century after the conclusion of the first “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, outer space is once again becoming a field of primary importance for international relations. Technological advancements and the commercialization of space have brought forth an unprecedented period of space-focused innovation, with companies such as SpaceX and Blue Origin spearheading the development of reusable rockets and space tourism. With the National Aeronautics and Space Administration making plans to land humans on the moon by 2024, it seems like we are on the verge of a new golden age of space exploration.
The goal of this policy report is to assess policies and strategies that the United States Space Force should pursue in order to deter conflict in space and protect our national interests in space exploration and commerce. We also highlight international legislation proposals that would create mechanisms of accountability for adverse actions in space.
U.S. CYBER COMMAND
As China’s power has risen in recent decades, so has the country’s global influence. With
Sino-U.S. relations deteriorating, many experts have expressed heightened concern about Chinese
disinformation in the United States, particularly in regards to election interference. This project seeks to
first analyze China’s use of disinformation and propaganda, and then provide comprehensive
recommendations for countering these threats.
The United States must take action to protect against Chinese
disinformation. This paper proposes expanding transparency regulations, ensuring third-party researcher
access to data, and reforming the U.S. voting system as three key steps to achieve this end.
Democratic backsliding (meaning the state-led debilitation or elimination of the political institutions sustaining an existing democracy) has changed dramatically since the Cold War. Open-ended coups d’état, executive coups, and blatant election-day vote fraud are declining while promissory coups, executive aggrandizement, and strategic electoral manipulation and harassment are increasing. Using the transatlantic community as the focus of the project, the paper takes two routes in examining the causes behind democratic backsliding: the internal and the external. First, internal political factors, such as populist leaders and anti-democratic parties, are threatening the foundation of political norms. Second, the broader geopolitical context—weaknesses in the European Union and Russia’s foreign policy—is also quickening democratic backsliding.The recent Russian invasion of Ukraine is a blatant example of how democracy is under threat globally. Even within the established “democratic community,” there has been a serious retreat fromliberal democracy. Several member NATO states have openly attacked their domestic opposition and judicial systems. Elsewhere, similar patterns can be observed. At the end of the paper, we will explore the issue of democratic backsliding in the transatlantic community and examine the trajectories of major players, such as China and Russia, in relation to this issue. Moreover, we will identify and analyze major threats to democracy throughout the world, such as Russia’s encroachment in Ukraine and the Baltic region while looking at the perceptions – this includes the perception from rising generations – of NATO allies. Finally, we have proposed recommendations, specific to NATO and some specific to the United States, as to how both these institutions can bestmitigate these threats and promote democracy on a global scale.
U.S. EMBASSY GUATEMALA
Despite recent trade tensions and border restrictions implemented in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the world is still interconnected. In particular, globalization leads many people to emigrate to new countries. This report seeks to identify the challenges faced by onesuch group – Guatemalans who emigrate to America – as well as the causes that led them to emigrate. The report has two parts – a history of Guatemalan emigration and a summary of living conditions of Guatemalans in America. Several issues emerge throughout: Guatemalans have lower rates of English language knowledge than other immigrants, vaccine hesitancy remains a problem (although less so than in early 2021), the cost of sending remittances is sizable, andagricultural workers face harassment such as sexual assault. Additionally, since many Guatemalans work in blue-collar jobs, they are disproportionately affected by job losses during the pandemic. We explore possible solutions to these problems throughout. Some aredismissed as impractical - such as adopting cryptocurrencies to ease the cost of remittances. Some may be difficult to achieve, namely increasing funding for educational programs. However, we present these solutions in hope that they may be a starting point for further debate.
EUROPEAN UNION COMMISSION
In this report, our Policy Team presents several options for the European Union to implement initiatives to decrease greenhouse gas emissions from the airline industry and investigates the feasibility of switching to other modes of transportation. We begin with an introduction to the impact of airline industry emissions, and the motivation behind our research question considering the significance of these emissions in the European Union. The first section of analysis focuses on possible interventions available that could be used to reduce emissions by either altering the airline industry’s infrastructure, incentivising the development and usage of less greenhouse gas intensive air travel technology and behavior, or decentivising air travel in relation to ground-based transportation. The second section analyzes the probability of EU states accepting the interventions given geopolitics, access to resources, concerns of competition in the airline industry, and France’s ban on short haul flights. The third section of analysis details the EU’s global responsibility to provide aid to developing countries and to account for outsourced emissions as part of the EU’s total emissions. In the recommendations section, we synthesize the most feasible actions going forward relative to each prior section of analysis
The Department of Defense (DoD) is cognizant of mental health challenges as many veterans of the War on Terror have suffered from similar conditions. Approximately 15% of military personnel deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PSTD) or depression, and the suicide rate for veterans is 1.5 times that of all American adults. Over the past two decades, the department has taken important steps to improve the mental health services available to veterans and service members, and the topic has transitioned from taboo to one that now commands significant leadership focus and attention. However, there is still more work to be done. As members of Gen Z continue to join the department and comprise a greater and greater share of the joint force, the DoD must continue to adapt to this new generation’s views on the importance of mental health and help-seeking behavior.
The rapid development of kinetic physical, non-kinetic physical, electronic, and cyber counterspace capabilities threaten U.S. hegemony in space as countries such as China and Russia continue efforts to displace the U.S. as the leading space power. The U.S. must continue to act as the leading hegemone in space in order to facilitate cooperation between international allies, establish international regulations, and maintain the development of space as a peaceful domain. The U.S. Space Force will assume a critical role in promoting U.S. interests across strategic partnerships as well as international laws and treaties. With this paper, we propose a multitude of recommendations categorized under various strategic areas with the ultimate goal of maintaining the U.S. as the leader in the development of space as a peaceful domain.
SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY FOR HOSTAGE AFFAIRS
Hostage crises can be split into two main categories: those in which the responsible party is a non-state actor and those in which it is a state actor. Each circumstance presents unique challenges and is best managed with different negotiation strategies. Non-state actor case studies highlight the importance of building rapport with hostage takers and reevaluating the United States’ current no-concessions policy. Furthermore, when multiple nations are involved in a crisis, the United States government should use its informational and military dominance to create a clear hierarchy between those nations to ensure a coordinated crisis response. Prioritizing organization in multilateral cooperation in both state and non-state scenarios minimizes miscommunication and disorganization. State actor case studies also emphasize the importance of stronger relationships between private negotiators and the United States government, and the impact this relationships has on more effective interactions with hostage takers.
U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL - SPACE POLICY
Achieving US leadership in space requires strategic collaboration both with the private sector and public sector. Maintaining US leadership in space is essential to setting the norms in a new domain, encouraging collaboration and further scientific advancements, and preventing the breakout of any conflict. With states such as China and Russia expanding their influence in space with potential for collaboration, it is necessary for the US to create strategic partnerships with entities that do not pose a risk to US national security. With this goal, in this paper, we propose a series of recommendations for strategic collaboration with the private sector in the US and foreign countries that do not jeopardize US national security interests. We close each section with a case study looking at SpaceX, India, and Japan. Ultimately, we realize for the US to lead in space, it must expand its reach within its private sector and strategically work with other countries.
USAID MISSION TO IRAQ
To address the struggles of Iraqi women, reforms must be introduced, starting at the legislative level. Particularly, Article 128 and Article 398 of the Penal Code, as well as Article 49 of the Constitution, pertain respectively to limited sentences for honor killings, the absolvement of charges against rapists upon marrying their victims, and the right for men to discipline their wives. Clarifying the contradictory interpretations of these laws and improving the ability of police to enforce them is a necessary first step to aid Iraqi women. Moreover, protections for peaceful protestors and a reduction of censorship would assist Iraqi activists. Additionally, humanitarian aid should focus on aiding impoverished women, homeless women, and women’s healthcare. Lastly, outreach programs focused on women’s opportunities in the workplace and access to education could develop more independence for Iraqi women. USAID can best assist these women by focusing its efforts on the domains of legislative reform, humanitarian aid, labor, education, and healthcare. To do so, USAID could provide recognition, support, and financial aid to NGOs, local activist groups, and grassroots organizations in Iraq. Currently, there are a large array of NGOs that are already lending aid to Iraqi women in these domains. By supporting these organizations, USAID could improve Iraq’s ability to positively reform from within.
In this research report, our Policy Team aims to provide a workable answer to the following question: In the absence of social media-specific directives from the UN and global governing bodies, how can Facebook use existing human rights frameworks to construct a rights-based approach to misinformation and harm? We begin with a review of existing legislation and human rights guidance with respect to content moderation and misinformation on social media, and proceed to identify gaps in the current ability of international law to combat and measure the consequences of misinformation. We then analyze three international case studies where misinformation on social media has resulted in ethnic violence, and analyze the exact nature of both the types of content shared and the conditions necessary to result in violence and human rights violations. Using the findings of these case studies, we then propose a framework on defining a given post of misinformation as incitement to ethnic violence. Such a framework is then employed to recommend content policies which, in conversation with the current Community Standards, provide a clearer understanding of how Facebook can adopt a human rights-based approach with regards to viral misinformation.
This report looks at the research and insights gained from five contemporary Expos: Aichi 2005, Shanghai 2010, Yeosu 2012, Milan 2015 and Astana 2017. While analysis on Cold-War era and 1800's Expos is abundant, the field lacks information on more recent Expos. This expos analyzes academic literature on the five past Expos in order to synthesize their findings in the context of nation branding, marketing and visitor experience. Furthermore, this report provides recommendations and suggestions for US participation in future Expos such as Osaka 2025.
U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL - EUROPEAN AFFAIRS
In a data-driven effort to analyze and achieve these objectives, our team additionally developed an index to measure the approximate level of potential for bilateral economic cooperation between each EU member state and China or the United States. With these goals in mind the United States should: Restore closer economic ties with the EU and explore the creation of a free trade zone open to nations that meet certain standards of market openness, individual freedoms, and democratic institutions; In partnership with the EU, establish a “Democracy Bank” (DemBank) to serve as an alternative to the AIIB around the world, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe.
SWEDEN - MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
This report presents gendered analyses of several ongoing economic, social, and policy areas to be flagged for the Government Offices of Sweden’s consideration as they determine the nation’s most optimal COVID-19 economic recovery strategies. Representatives working for the Swedish government, which maintains a strong commitment to feminist policy, have commissioned this report to assess meaningful policy actions for the economic empowerment of women living in Sweden. We first provide detailed background information on historical and modern-day issues relevant to the report’s aim, closely examining the presence of gendered elements within major issues. We then expand on potential policy interventions to address disparities within these issues. This report makes policy recommendations that address (1) combating gender-based violence (2) reforming Swedish paid leave structuring (3) strategies to strengthen Sweden’s healthcare policy and its retention of healthcare workers (4) the enhancement of female entrepreneurship through the feminist trade policy agenda (5) specific economic recovery considerations for foreign-born female workers and (6) steps toward greater inclusivity of gender minorities in these considerations.
U.S. & REPUBLIC OF KOREA
Following the 2020 general election, with a new presidential administration in place, the environmental
and technological goals of the US have shifted to reflect that of President Joe Biden’s considerably more
pro-energy and climate change agenda. Within the first 100 days of his time in office, President Biden
has since pledged to set the U.S. on the path to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 with an
interim target of decarbonizing the U.S. power sector by 2035, rejoining the Paris Climate Accords and
reducing greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 50%. Clearly, there has been a shift in approach
to international policy in terms of climate change. The authors of this report were tasked with compiling
policy recommendations for the future US Ambassador to the Republic of Korea, keeping the above in
In this research report, our team outlines the methods and consequences of China’s soft power tactics and messaging strategies on the continent of Africa. We seek to answer the question: How does the Chinese Communist Party interface with the public in African countries, and how effective are the CCP’s messaging tactics in influencing public opinion in Africa? We begin with our background section by outlining some of the key ways China has involved itself in Africa, including an overview of their efforts to influence local media. We then explore three regional case studies—East Africa, West Africa, and Northwest Africa—to highlight key examples of Chinese soft power tactics and their effectiveness. Finally, we propose recommendations that outline how various US government entities could mitigate the negative effects of Chinese soft power operations in Africa.