US-bound Harkness Fellows to tackle environmental & child welfare issues

Better outcomes for the environment and children will be the focus of research undertaken in top United States universities next year by the 2018 Harkness Fellows.

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Harkness Fellowships Trust chairman Ross Tanner (centre) with 2018 Harkness Fellows Doug Jones and Donna Provoost

Doug Jones, Manahautū/General Manager of the Māori Policy and Operations team at the Environmental Protection Authority, and Donna Provoost, Director of the Strategy, Rights and Advice team at the office of the Children’s Commissioner, are this year’s recipients of Harkness Fellowships.

The $30,000 fellowships allow mid-career public sector professionals to undertake research projects in the US with the aim of gaining insights that could inform government policy in New Zealand.

“We look to assist emerging leaders in the public sector to help governments develop responses to some of the biggest disruptive changes facing society,” says Harkness Fellowship Trust chairman Ross Tanner.

“Our two new fellows embody that goal, working on aspects of public policy and administration that are crucial to New Zealand’s future.”

As the current General Manager Māori of the Environmental Protection Authority, and with roles and experience in managing Māori land, freshwater and commercial fisheries assets for Rongowhakaata Iwi Asset Holding Company, Te Ohu Kaimoana, Te Puni Kōkiri and Ministry for Primary Industries, Doug Jones will explore the environmental trade-offs, approaches and opportunity costs that need to be considered when introducing new technologies, such as gene editing, to protect native species.

“How do we have a mature conversation about environmental trade-offs in the face of public outrage and science denial fuelled by social media,” says Jones, who will be based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

“It’s an exciting question that we need to explore for the benefit of protecting native species and for future generations.”

An economist with 20 years’ experience in the social sector working on issues including poverty and community development, Donna Provoost will undertake research at the University of Oregon’s Center for Translational Neuroscience and the Harvard Center for the Developing Child, exploring how neuroscience, psychology and related disciplines can better inform policies to improve the well-being and resilience of children.

“With the support of the Harkness Fellowship, I will bring new insights to the policy work on the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy” says Donna. “I am excited to have this opportunity to contribute to better lives for kiwi kids!”

“Through effective management of our endowment fund and additional fundraising efforts, we hope to be able to offer more than one fellowship in a given year again in future,” says Tanner.

The 2018 fellows join the likes of Hugh Fletcher, Hon. Shane Jones, Bridget Coates and Harkness Fellowships Trust patron Sir Richard Faull, as fellowship recipients adding to a legacy of leadership in and beyond government and evidence-based collaboration with US researchers, agencies and institutions.

About The Harkness Fellowships

The Harkness Fellowships programme has over the last sixty years enabled mid-career professionals who aspire to significant leadership roles within New Zealand, particularly in but not limited to the public sector, to benefit from new ideas, practices and contacts in the United States. The Fellowship application process is administered by Fulbright New Zealand.

The Fellowship programme in New Zealand has supported over 100 talented people to pursue study and research programmes in the US. Many have gone on to become leaders in their profession and to make outstanding contributions to science and technology, health care and education, economics and public sector leadership.