Started in the Fall of 2014, the Embedded Education Research Project team at the Ash Center of the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government has been conducting research on Embedded Education practices. Embedded education is the practice of educating people through encounters they already have within organizations and networks that exist primarily for non-educational purposes. Embedded education is an important innovation in education and governance that has the potential to reach the millions of youth and adults across the globe who otherwise would not have access to continuing education.
The team identified and conducted field research on four cases. Two cases were identified in China, one on HIV prevention education targeted at road construction workers in Guangxi and Yunnan sponsored by the Asia Development Bank (ADB), and one on women’s reproductive health education targeted at migrant female workers factories sponsored by Business for Social Responsibility (BSR) and their member corporations. We also identified one case in the US that sought to achieve health equity by providing health-related resources to patrons in African American barbershops. And lastly, a case in the Netherlands that targeted adults with low literacy through a network of organizations that these adults already interact with, such as public libraries, healthcare institutions, and commercial job-placement agencies, etc.
Following the conceptual framework described more fully here (link to SSIR article) and here (link to HER article), this case study begins with some background information on the context in which the educators and their partners implemented their embedded education program. It then presents the strategic and design elements of the program and the evidence regarding its impact. It ends with a discussion of the strategic and design elements, focusing on the challenges the educators faced at a number of different junctures in the development of the program.
This project is funded by the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business and the Hui Fund at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. We would like to express our deepest gratitude to our research participants, who gave us their time for interviews and shared with us their reflections and experiences at the frontiers of service delivery. This case study was the product of a collaborative effort of the following people: Dr. Jorrit de Jong and Dr. Guy Stuart, who are the principal investigators of the project; and Dr. Linda Kaboolian, Hua Chen, Gaylen Moore, Deloris Wilson, Siwen Zhang, and Songyu Zhu, who are key contributors to the project.
Jorrit de Jong is Lecturer in Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School (HKS). He is also Academic Director of the Innovations in Government Program at the Kennedy School’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. His research and teaching focus on the challenges of making the public sector more responsive and more resilient through innovation.
A specialist in experiential learning, Jorrit has taught strategic management and public problem solving in degree and executive education programs at HKS and around the world. Before coming to Harvard, Jorrit co-founded the Kafka Brigade, a not-for-profit organization in Europe that helps governments diagnose and remedy bureaucratic dysfunction. He was also founding co-director of a consulting firm for the public sector in Amsterdam, and director of the Center for Government Studies at Leiden University.
Dr. de Jong holds a PhD in Public Policy and Management (VU Amsterdam), a Master in Philosophy (Leiden) and a Master in Public Administration (Leiden). He has written extensively, including the books The State of Access: Success and Failure of Democracies to Create Equal Opportunities (Brookings 2008, co-edited); Agents of Change: Strategy and Tactics for Social Innovation (Brookings 2012, co-authored); and Dealing with Dysfunction: Innovative Problem Solving in the Public Sector (Brookings 2016).
Guy Stuart is Executive Director of Microfinance Opportunities. He provides the strategic vision for the organization in close collaboration with MFO’s team of dedicated professionals. Guy has extensive experience conducting research on the financial capabilities of low-income consumers. His research has been published in books, peer reviewed journals, working papers, and blogs.
Before becoming Executive Director, Guy was a Lecturer in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School where he taught courses in management and microfinance for 13 years. At the same time he was a Senior Advisor to MFO and served as Principal Investigator on five Financial Diaries studies and as project leader for the development of the Financial Capabilities Index Web Portal. Guy received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 1994, and he is currently a Fellow at the Ash Center, Harvard University.
Linda Kaboolian taught public policy for over thirty years at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government after completing a PhD in Sociology at the University of Michigan in 1984 with a dissertation on auto workers, Between 2005 and 2010, she served as faculty chair of the Senior Executives in State and Local Government program at the Harvard Kennedy School. Kaboolian is the author of Win-win labor-management collaboration in education (2006). She continues to work on issues of negotiations in collective bargaining and in particular on the challenges for workers in the public sector. She is currently a lecturer at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Hua Chen was once a bank manager in one of the world’s largest banks, the chief representative of a multi-national corporation, and a founder and Managing Director of an international property investment consulting company. Chen is currently a Fellow at Ash Center, Harvard Kennedy School. Over thirty years, Chen has built up experiences across the fields of banking, international trading, manufacturing and real estate investing. Chen Hua holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Auckland University, New Zealand and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, the United States.
Deloris Wilson Deloris is a 2016 JD/MPA graduate of Georgetown Law and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she served as a Public Service Fellow, Dubin Summer Fellow, and Pro Bono Scholar. With professional experience in journalism, program management, and public-sector innovation, her studies focused on the intersection of the cultural and creative industries, social entrepreneurship, and economic development in minority communities. As Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, she helped to illuminate the complexities of protest in the aftermath of police violence, as well as chronicle student movements seeking to reaffirm identity in spaces where Black visibility and input is limited. She is a Senior Fellow of Humanity in Action, a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, and a 2012 summa cum laude graduate of Spelman College.
Siwen Zhang is a third-year doctoral student concentrating in Human Development and Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She is a Spencer Foundation Early Career Scholar in New Civics. Her research interests include early childhood development, civic education, and social entrepreneurship in countries with large migrant populations. In particular, she is interested in how teachers motivate young people to participate in civic engagement in China. Siwen is currently researching Chinese teachers’ perceptions of attributes of citizens. Prior to coming to the United States from Fujian, China, Siwen taught Chinese as a foreign language in Manila, Philippines, while she collaborated with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority on former President Arroyo’s project to equip the Filipino workforce with foreign language competence. Siwen holds an MEd in Bilingual/ESL/Multicultural Education from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and a BA from Fujian Normal University in China.”
Songyu Zhu is a Research Fellow and the Project Assistant of the Embedded Education project at the Ash Center, Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government. Songyu holds a Master’s degree in Higher Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has served as an International Affairs Specialist, International Admissions Coordinator, Public Affairs Assistant at Harvard and MIT. Before entering Harvard, Songyu studied and worked at the University of Southern California (USC), coordinated USC Shoah Foundation’s research collaboration with the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. Songyu’s research and professional interests focus on the globalization of American higher education institutions, the cultural, operational and educational exchange between government, business and universities in China and the United States.