Field Courses 2017-2018

Students interested in the three field courses on applying behavioral science to policy may read summaries of each course below. Samples of past projects conducted by students enrolled in these courses can be found here.

Students interested in MLD 337Y and MLD 335Y: The deadline to apply for these courses was 5:00 PM on August 23, and late applicants cannot be considered due to the high volume of applications received. Students interested in applying to MLD 310: see MLD 310 course summary below.

Questions can be directed to: Shibeal_OFlaherty@hks.harvard.edu.

MLD 337Y
EC Field Course - US: Behavioral Insights
Professor Max Bazerman

Summary: In this course, students will obtain a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics; master what we know about decision architecture - or "nudging"; and apply these ideas to a group project.  The project will create the majority of the student experience. This EC Field Course will create an action-oriented experiential learning experience, and will appeal to students who are interested in obtaining a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics, and mastering knowledge of decision architecture, or "nudging."

Travel: All students will work on actual projects connected to projects in Boston, Washington, or New York. Unlike most EC Field Courses, this course will unfold over the fall semester with students traveling to clients in New England, New York and Washington, DC between January 11-18 for 2-4 days.  In contrast to the Immersive Field Course– UK: Behavioral Insights, the expectation for this course is that more of the actual work will be done during the fall semester with very limited days spent in the field in January.

Fee: The cost of one round-trip to the client site will be covered by the course. Any other costs are the responsibility of the student.

Dates: Course meets for eight sessions in the fall (9/11: 4:15-6:15; 9/18: 4:15-6:15; 10/16: 4:45-7:30; 10/30: 4:15-7:00; 11/6: 4:15-7:00; 11/20: 4:15-7:00; 11/27: 4:15-7:00; 12/4: 4:15-7:00), followed by travel to the client site in January. Attendance at all meetings is required.

MLD 335Y
United Kingdom Immersive Field Course: Behavioral Insights
Professor Michael Luca

Summary: Perhaps the most important practical development in the social sciences in the last 50 years has been the development of idea of creating an architecture for changing the environment to lead humans to better decisions through "nudges" (Thaler and Sunstein, 2008). The fields of behavioral economics and psychology have become integrated into governments through this work. Established in 2010 and directed by David Halpern, the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was set up in the heart of the British Government to apply behavioral economics and psychology to policymaking. BIT works with a variety of partners both in government and in industry to implement nudges. They have led interventions in a variety of domains, including tax collection, charitable giving, education, and employment. In this course, students will obtain a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics; muster what we know about decision architecture - or "nudging"; and apply these ideas to a group project with their client from local or national government in the United Kingdom. This course will be of particular interest to students with an interest in obtaining a basic understanding on behavioral decision research and behavioral economics, and mastering knowledge of decision architecture, or "nudging."

Travel: All students will work on actual projects connected to the UK Government.  Ten days of mandatory travel to the UK from January 6-17.

Fee: There is a mandatory fee for this course of $2,500. This fee will cover double-occupancy accommodations in-country with daily hotel breakfast, ground transportation, local transportation for field work, daily internet access at hotels, meeting space in-country, an iPhone with calling, text, and data, all taxes and gratuities for included activities, and emergency medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance through HTA). Please note that students will also be required to purchase their own international airfare to and from the destination, entry and transit visa expenses, immunizations, and personal expenses. Enrolled students may make an appointment with HKS Financial Aid with confirmation of their course registration and a plane ticket receipt to discuss increasing their loan amount in accordance with their costs.

There is limited funding available to HKS studetns to cover the course fee. To apply for funding, please send a short paragraph describing your funding needs to Shibeal_OFlaherty@hks.harvard.edu by 5:00 PM on August 23.

Dates:  Course meets for six two-hour sessions in the fall (TBD), followed by ten days of travel to the UK from January 6-17.

MLD 310              
Behavioral Science for Inclusive Organizations
Professor Iris Bohnet

Summary:

This field course uses insights from behavioral science to promote organizational health, in particular, as it relates to equality, diversity and inclusion. Getting and staying healthy includes preventing undesirable events from happening, detecting issues when they arise and mitigating against the consequences as they occur. To promote healthy behaviors, organizations typically rely on “soft” instruments such as awareness raising and appeals through training programs and information sharing, or “hard” instruments such as command-and-control through rules, carrots and sticks. This course argues that behavioral design or “nudges” offer a middle ground to establish healthy behaviors, often more powerful than awareness raising and less costly than shoves. In working with organizations across the sectors, we will design nudges promoting desired behaviors regarding effective talent management, organizational design that levels the playing field for all and inclusive culture.  

We treat lack of diversity and inclusion as a “want-should” dilemmas, where people know what they should be doing but then, do not get around to doing it. Behavioral design helps people bridge this intention-action gap. The course emphasizes evidence-based reasoning. Students will learn how to diagnose the “behavioral health” of an organization, design potential treatments for what is broken, and rigorously evaluate their impact, using big data analytics and experimentation. Students will work in groups and partner with an organization—a tech start-up having developed behaviorally inspired software to help organizations address these issues or an organization (company, government or International Organization) interested in advancing equality, diversity and inclusion through the use of behavioral design. The syllabus is here.

Travel: NA

Fee: NA

Dates: Mondays from 4:15-7:00 PM.

MLD-310 is offered at Harvard Kennedy School, with a limited number of seats reserved for cross-registrants from HBS and from across Harvard. Space permitting, auditors are welcome.

For Kennedy School students: please enroll using the standard HKS-process

For cross-registrants: please email Kelsey_Heroux@hks.harvard.edu by August 30, 2017, that you would like to enroll in the class and include a short motivational statement

For auditors: please email Kelsey_Heroux@hks.harvard.edu by August 30, 2017, that you would like to audit the class and include a short motivational statement.

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FAQs for Students

What is the application process and timeline?

Applications will be accepted between now and 5:00 PM on August 23. Applicants will hear about the outcome of their application the week of August 26.

Why is there a ranking system and why can’t I enroll in more than one course?

There is significant overlap between the content of MLD 337Y and MLD 335Y, and several of the class sessions will be co-taught. Therefore, students will not be allowed to enroll in both. Enrollment in more than one of these courses would result in much of the content being redundant. Several class sessions for the two field courses will be co-taught by Professors Max Bazerman and Mike Luca.

What are the main differences in content between MLD 337Y and MLD 335Y?

Both courses are similar in that the goal is to teach students how to apply behavioral research to public policy issues. In both courses, students will work in groups with governmental agencies and other organizations on projects related to improving policies using behavioral science principles. The main difference between MLD 337Y and MLD 335Y is the focus on US versus UK based context.

I have prior commitments that means I may miss the January travel dates for MLD 337Y and/or MLD 335Y. Can I complete the client site travel at another time? 

No. Students must be available to travel for MLD 337Y and MLD 335Y with their classmates in January, and you are required to be present during the specified dates.

What are the specific travel dates for MLD 337Y? Can I take MLD 337Y and a January Session/J-Term course? 

The travel dates for MLD 337Y will be 2-4 days between January 11-18. Please note that specific dates will not be confirmed until later in September. If you are a HKS student accepted into MLD 337Y and you also hope to enroll in a January Session course between January 2-12, please notify one of the relevant course contacts (Shibeal O' Flaherty, Max Bazerman) as soon as possible and prior to project assignments, so that we can work to assign you to a project where travel takes place after January 12. Please note that this will limit your project choice.  

I’m a dual-degree HKS/HBS student in my first year. Can I enroll in any of these field courses?

No – if you are a first-year dual HKS/HBS student, you cannot enroll in classes that are cross-listed between HBS and HKS (MLD 337Y and MLD 335Y). However, you may apply to MLD 310 which is only listed at HKS (details on how to apply above). 

I’m not from HKS or HBS. Can I cross-register?

You can apply to cross-register using the above application, but please note that priority will be given to HKS and HBS students.

What are the course credits for each course?

HKS students will receive 4.0 course credits (2.0 per semester) for successful completion of either course. HBS students will receive 3.0 course credits on completion of either course. Please note that although both courses are considered year-long courses, the final project hand-in and final class for both will take place in February.

What are the course fees?

There is no course fee for MLD 337Y (US), whereas there is a mandatory $2500 fee for MLD 335Y (UK).

The MLD 335Y mandatory course fee $2,500 will cover double-occupancy accommodations in-country with daily hotel breakfast, ground transportation, local transportation for field work, daily internet access at hotels, meeting space in-country, an iPhone with calling, text, and data, all taxes and gratuities for included activities, and emergency medical, evacuation, and repatriation insurance through HTA).

Please note that the mandatory course fee cannot be reduced, and students must stay in the accommodation provided by the HBS Global Experience Office.

I would like to apply to MLD 335Y but cannot afford the $2500 course fee. Can you point me towards any funding sources?

We have very limited funding available for some students enrolled in MLD 335Y. Please submit a paragraph outlining your funding need to Shibeal_OFlaherty@hks.harvard.edu no later than 5:00 PM on August 23.

Where can I find more information?

MLD 337Y Extended Field Course (US):

MLD 335Y Immersive Field Course (UK):

Contact:

Shibeal O’ Flaherty

Program Administrator, Behavioral Insights Group

Shibeal_OFlaherty@hks.harvard.edu

(617) 496-2422