Harvard Summer School Report

by Miu Yamazaki

【Basic Information of the two courses that I took】

A:Politics and Governance in the Global South

Course Description:

This course introduces students to politics and the political economy of development in low- income countries. What are the main political and governance challenges low-income countries face and what are the best prospects for addressing them? How do political and institutional constraints, like poor accountability, frail institutions, and weak rule of law, impact how global south countries provide the public goods and policies their citizens demand? How does a country’s income level influence politics and governance, and how is it influenced by them in turn? Drawing on both theoretical and empirical social science research, this course explores these questions by blending theory and case studies drawn primarily from Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and South Asia. Main themes to be covered include state and institutional strength, political representation, and accountability, as well as more specific areas of governance and democratic practice such as public goods provision, corruption, international development aid, civil society and activism, gender, diversity and inequality, and managing public crises.

Class Meetings:

Tuesdays, Thursdays, June 20-August 4, 8:30am-11:30am

          Class size: 12 students

        Format: On campus

B:Globalization and Global Justice

Course Description:

This course provides an opportunity to discuss diverse theories of globalization and global justice via perspectives from sociology, economics, political science, anthropology, geography, history, and the emerging literature from civil society. The course considers research on issues such as democracy, trade, technology, poverty, ecology, culture, diversity, and the search for identity.

Class Meetings:

Mondays, Wednesdays, June 21-August 4, 8:30am-11:30am

          Class size: approximately 30 students

        Format: On campus or Online

【Teaching Methods and Level】


A:Politics and Governance in the Global South

The lecture style was like a seminar, so class was mainly delivered by discussion among students. Even though the readings were mainly about Politics, all students including high schoolers had so much knowledge and every class was stimulating and intense. I needed to be very active and express my own opinions without hesitation, which was completely different from the classes that I had been taking in University of Tokyo.

The final goal of the course was to learn how to do Research Design. As a final paper, I had to submit “Final Prospectus”, which includes my own research question, literature review, methodology (IV, DV), Hypothesis and self-review. I asked some advice from Teaching Assistant and tried to brush up my research design. I had to read numerous amounts of readings to finish the 10 pages long final assignment, which was quite hard, but I got to learn logical thinking and how to process a lot of readings effectively.

The class was very diverse. We had high schoolers, lawyers, undergraduates and graduates from various countries. Therefore, we could see political issues from various perspectives and ask examples of each country. This kind of discussion is what I can’t experience in Japan.

B:Globalization and Global Justice

The professor explained various perspectives about controversial topics such as “Adam Smith’s theory and Keynes’s theory”, then Students were asked to choose one opinion and to write the reason of supporting that opinion in one paragraph immediately in a short period of time. After that, we were asked to discuss with students who had different opinions freely. The discussion in the class was so fun because I got to know how people from various backgrounds and majors see the society differently. The best thing of the discussion was that no one blamed or criticized anyone’s opinion, and we could discuss in a productive way.

I got to learn active learning because the professor never appointed student, so we had to be very active and raise hands to make the most of the class. One thing I realized was that people tend to undervalue their own countries because it is easier for them to find downsides of their home countries.

I had to read few chapters from books and summarize them before every class. It was tiring but it made the classes more effective for me. It was also required to do group presentation twice and write essay twice.

【Impression of the courses】

Both two courses were completely beyond my expectations. I felt that seven week is the best length for summer program because you can build a relationship, which lasts even after the program ends and immerse yourself to a new abroad environment. I can confirm that these seven weeks that I spent in Harvard would be the most fulfilling time in my life. All classes were diverse and stimulating, daily conversation was fun. Everything was worth challenging.

My learning objectives were to gain more knowledge about Politics and to exchange opinions with people from all over the world. These goals were achieved through courses and through daily conversations. I learned basic knowledge about globalization and political issues in the global south and how to discuss in a logical and convincing way.

【Building Relationships】

The professors and teaching assistants of both courses were very kind and supportive. As for the Globalization and Global Justice course, the professor and students had lunch together after the final class. At lunch, I could ask him about my future career. Professors of both courses told me that I can contact them anytime I want.

I made a lot of friends not only in classes but also at dorms, so I could meet students who study academic areas that I’m not familiar with. The friendships I built during the program will be my life-long ones. The dining hall in the dorm was my favorite place. That’s because every time I had meal there, I could talk with new students or friends. In the dining hall, discussions about politics or culture among students from different countries started naturally, which never happens in my university. We’re still keep in touch through SNS and I strongly hope we’ll meet each other one day in the future career.

【Social Aspects】

There was a strong support from Harvard. They prepared us many activities such as visiting museum, whale watching, going to beaches, visiting weekend market, watching baseball games…etc. It was very helpful in experiencing new things in Boston and making friends. Assignments were quite hard, but I could make the most of the stay by joining these activities. I often went out with my friends after classes or on weekends. Boston has so many museums, which have famous paintings. I could also spend Independence Day in Boston, see demonstrations about affirmative action, and studying in historical library with my friends. All of these inspired me a lot.

In the dorm, there were proctors, who are Harvard students, for each entryway, and they planned study breaks such as pizza-night and ice-night. It helped me a lot in making friends. I could also ask my proctors about the lives in Harvard. I even feel that I made more friends through this program than through my university’s courses in Japan.

Lastly, I’d like to show my greatest gratitude to your support. Without generous financial support from FUTI, I could not have spent this unforgettable summer in Harvard. I feel fortunate to have got this opportunity, thank you very much. I promise that I will make the most of this experience in the future path.