Ash Hartwell
Adjunct Professor, PI USAID-ECCN Project
Professional Interests: 
Complex Adaptive Systems, Education in Crisis and Conflict-Affected Environments, Alternative Education, Institutional Capacity Development.


B.A., Dartmouth College, 1963
M.A., Howard University, 1968
Ed.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst, 1972


I grew up in Hawaii, and was a surf lover until banished to a New England college where skiing had to take the place of surfing. But skiing was expensive, and I had to work to make it through college, so I began to teach skiing. I found that teaching others to learn was as much fun as the sport itself. That has led to a life-long passion to understand how people learn, and to support the process of learning in various cultures and contexts. Living and working in Ethiopia, Uganda, Lesotho, Botswana and Egypt for extended periods, I have grown to believe in a deep, innate human love and capacity for learning (and playing), which is not inevitably deadened as youth fades into adulthood. I hold that every child - and potentially every adult - is a genius. My work seeks to support individual and community learning - which I believe to be the process of transformation that leads to greater capacity, and opportunity, to participate in society. Learning is connected to our personal meaning, and to our relationships to others. I have been involved in specific projects in Egypt, Ghana, Uganda, Malawi that apply learning principles to classroom, school, community programs, and I also work towards supporting and financing national policies that are built from local successes.


Since I returned to the USA after working 25 years in Africa, I have served as an education advisor to USAID's Africa Bureau, as well as to UNICEF, CARE and the World Bank. I have served on the Board of Trustees of the 21st Century Learning Initiative, a transnational program to synthesize the best of research and development into the nature of human learning and implications for education, work and the development of communities worldwide.


In 2002 I joined the faculty at the Center for International Education, where I focus on Learning in Post Conflict Situations, Educational Policy and Planning, and Alternative Forms of Education. I also continue as an advisor on education systems for the Global Learning Group of the Education Development Center, Inc.


Currently, Ash is the Principal Investigator and M&E Specialist for the CIE/UMass five-year project in partnership with Education Development Center, USAID-ECCN (Education in Crisis and Conflict Affected Environments Network), which aims to build evidence and capacity with a community of practice for increasing equitable enrollments in crisis and conflict-affected areas.


Recent Activities


During 2013/14 Ash was the lead technical consultant for USAID's Education bureau to develop a 'toolkit' for 'government to government' (G2G) financing in education.  With support from CIE graduate students Jacob Carter and Stephen Richardson,  the toolkit provides a review of literature, lessons learned and good practices; a conceptual framework; a roadmap for project design and management; specific tools such as an Institutional Capacity Assessment; and 'What Will it Cost?'; and four country case studies.


In 2015, through USAID-ECCN, Ash designed and organized a two day-simulation for 60 participants in a workshop, modelling the application of adaptive management and feedback loops to improve alternative education programs for IDPs in northern Ghana.  His current work focuses on the concept and practice of an 'Emergent Theory of Change' in crisis and conflict contexts. 


Recent Publications 


From 2005-2011, Ash served as a member of an education policy research team (EQUIP2) to design and carry out research on the cost-effectiveness of alternative education models for achieving EFA, particularly in underserved regions. That work resulted in the publication of Reaching the Underserved: Complementary Models of Effective Education which can be found here.