The Berkman Klein Assembly

Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University

The Berkman Klein Assembly gathers high-level developers and tech industry professionals for a rigorous two-week course at Harvard University, followed by a twelve-week collaborative development period to explore hard problems with running code.

Each Assembly cohort comes together around a defined challenge. The challenge for the pilot in 2017 is the future of digital security: how do we move beyond a world where virtually every computing device and network is insecure?

Program Details

The Berkman Klein Assembly is a new experimental program held at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University, exploring different modes of education, collaboration, and development. The program is generously supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine MacArthur Foundation.

The pilot program, which will run from January to May 2017, will be made up of a cohort of seven to ten participants. It will include developers from various sectors - private, public, civil, academia - and tech industry professionals who are excited about exploring solutions in digital security.

They will take part in a two-week course at Harvard and a twelve-week development period.

Throughout the program, the cohort will expand their expertise and learn from their peers and experts in the space. In addition, participants will have opportunities to interact with the diverse and multidisciplinary Berkman Klein community. The first cohort will play an important role in shaping the pilot and future iterations of the program.

The Course

The two-week course – Internet & Society: The Technologies and Politics of Control – will be located on-site at the Harvard Law School campus in Cambridge, MA and will include Harvard graduate students. It will be taught by Professor Jonathan Zittrain, co-founder of the Berkman Klein Center, and Joi Ito, Director of the MIT Media Lab, and will feature guest lecturers and thinkers from across different sectors.

The course itself will span foundational technical, social science, economic, and legal material that grapples with the problems in the digital security space. How can technical or legal means be balanced across various social and economic interests? How do we do so without undermining cultural values or the information systems themselves?

The Development Period

The twelve-week development period challenges participants to build tools and technologies inspired by the course. This is an opportunity to collaborate with other skilled developers across industries and backgrounds, to step back from day-to-day goals, and to explore novel solutions to deep problems.

Berkman Klein Assembly staff will provide light project management, including a guided design process and weekly group check-ins. However, participants will ultimately take the lead in setting and fulfilling their own goals in response to the Assembly challenge.

Pilot Program Schedule: January - April 2017

Course: Internet & Society: Technologies and Politics of Control January 3 - 13, 2017
Monday - Friday, 10:30am - 2:00pm
Sprint and Brainstorming Session January 16 - 20, 2017
Development Period January 23 - April 5, 2017
Closing Event April 2017 (to be located in Cambridge, MA)

2018 Cohort Application

Applications for the 2018 cohort will open in Spring 2017. Sign up here if you would like to be notified for when we open applications.

2017 Cohort

We are thrilled to announce our 2017 cohort for the Berkman Klein Assembly pilot. The cohort brings a diverse gathering of theoretical and practical backgrounds coming from research, private sector, and non-profit institutions. For more information about the cohort and team, visit the people page.


The Berkman Klein Assembly is a project run out of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to get in touch, please email us at