Ongoing Lessons from the Pandemic, by EPoD Affiliates
As the pandemic moves into its third year, scholars at Harvard Kennedy School are reassessing the lessons COVID-19 has taught and continues to teach us. EPoD Affiliates Anders Jensen, Dan Levy and Asim Khwaja contributed to the roundup of views, looking at issues such as how the pandemic intersected with tax policy; what we have discovered about the design of successful remote learning experiences; and how having evidence-based processes in place may help navigating future challenges.
Prioritizing process for the next shock
"The pandemic led to massive losses in many countries—of life, of livelihoods, and more. The biggest lesson that I believe we can learn from these years of loss is that process matters. Shocks happen, and there is only so much a society can do to prepare for the worst kinds of shocks, such as COVID-19—one of the most devastating our world has experienced.What this specific shock revealed to me is that we didn’t have processes in place to navigate it in a way that wasn’t reactionary or destructive..…I hope that we have now learned how critical it is to have effective response processes in place before the challenges that we will inevitably face in the future. Doing so will allow us to have a more thoughtful, evidence-driven, and conceptually valid response, as opposed to an immediate and desperate reaction."
A time to rethink tax systems
"The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to think about tax policy in an evidence-based way. It has put a lot of pressure on government budgets for unemployment benefits and other public goods, which means that the government must collect more taxes to provide them. But at the same time, the tax base has eroded owing to the various forms of lockdown that were necessary to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Tax policies for the post-pandemic recovery period will thus require governments to be resourceful and to look at underutilized policy tools. To that end, the COVID-19 recovery phase may present a strong opportunity for a deeper overhaul of tax systems to improve efficiency and—perhaps even more important—equity."
Anders Jensen is an assistant professor of public policy who studies tax policy with a particular focus on countries’ capacity to tax.
Thinking outside & inside the Zoom box
"The pandemic has taught us to think more carefully about how to design successful learning experiences and programs for our students. We need to be better at putting ourselves in their shoes. That is a simple principle that should always guide teaching and learning, and it was especially evident over the past two years."
Dan Levy is a senior lecturer in public policy. He is the faculty director of the Public Leadership Credential, Harvard Kennedy School’s flagship online learning initiative, and the author of Teaching Effectively with Zoom: A Practical Guide to Engage Your Students and Help Them Learn.