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 three-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 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 three-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 three-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.

Expectations and Time Commitment

We require participants to be present at Harvard University for the three-week course in January. Classes will be held in the afternoon, Monday through Friday. When not in class, there will be opportunities for participants to interact with their fellow assemblers and engage with the Berkman Klein community.

For the development period, we require a commitment of around twenty hours per week. If possible, we encourage participants to engage and collaborate in-person throughout the development period. However, we understand that there may be difficulties around scheduling and are happy to work with participants in order to establish a plan that can include remote participation that is convenient.

Important Dates and Duration

Pilot Program: January - May 2017

Orientation Monday January 2, 2017
Course January 3 - 20, 2017
Monday - Friday, 2:00 - 4:30pm
Development Period January 21 - April 5, 2017
(with options to work remotely)
Closing Event April 2017
to be located in Cambridge


There is no tuition for participation in the three-week course at Harvard and the twelve-week development period. Participants are generally asked to cover their own travel, housing expenses, and other arrangements.

In support of welcoming a truly diverse and multi-talented range of participants in the Assembly, we will have a limited number of need-based stipends.

The Application

We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017 pilot program; the application deadline was Monday, July 26, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. ET. We will be in touch with applicants throughout the coming weeks.


We’re looking for mid-to-senior level developers and tech industry professionals (e.g., designers, communication experts, etc. who are excited about and have a background in digital security), who want to develop knowledge within digital law and policy, and who want to meaningfully contribute to digital security to apply.

The work and well-being of the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University are strengthened profoundly by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We actively seek and welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities, as well as applications from researchers and practitioners from across the spectrum of disciplines and methods.

For the pilot, we are unfortunately unable to provide visa support for participation in the Assembly.

Application Process

The application process involves two steps:

  1. Fill out this short application form
  2. Send us your resume (PDF) and personal statement (PDF) to (Subject line: "Berkman Klein Assembly Application 2016: Your name")

In your personal statement, please tell us a bit about yourself, why you would like to participate in the Berkman Klein Assembly and a short response to the following question: “What do you think are the biggest digital security problems today? What do you imagine a group like the Assembly could accomplish?”

Please include a portfolio or examples of your work (e.g., link to your Github account) if applicable.

An executive summary of the program is available for download here to share information about the program with your manager.


We are no longer accepting applications for the 2017 pilot program; the application deadline was Monday, July 26, 2016 at 11:59 p.m. ET. We will be in touch with applicants in the coming weeks.


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