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Intercultural and International Communication | SIS

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About SIS Practica:

This program is designed to give second-year master’s students real world experience in project management and consulting while preparing them for post-graduate careers.

Students work in teams with expert clients including U.S. and international government agencies, non-profit organizations and businesses to conduct policy and program analysis. Students draw on their substantial research, as well as qualitative and quantitative skills, to prepare final oral and written analysis and recommendations.

The practica are led by faculty mentors who hold class sessions weekly. Students also participate in hands-on workshops designed to enhance their project management, client relations, oral presentation, and writing skills. In addition to sharing the findings with their clients, students present their reports at the SIS Practica Symposium each semester.

Affecting Institutional Culture Change for Intercultural Competence

Instructor: Maria Morukian
Term: Spring 2017
Location: Washington, DC

Through this course student have opportunities to consult with diverse organizations seeking to implement significant cultural transformation in order to accommodate the needs and expectations of an increasingly diverse and multicultural workforce, customer base, and social and political climate. Students are exposed to concepts of organizational culture change management and organizational behavior change. They link these concepts to skills for building culturally competent and inclusive institutional cultures, both domestic and global. Students develop practical skills in service as professional consultants to organizations facing diverse challenges with their institutional cultures, including conducting organizational assessments, developing strategic communication plans, designing training programs for cultural competence, and evaluating culture change efforts.

Program Design and Assessment in International Education

Instructor: Amanda Taylor
Term: Summer 2017
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

UNESCO and other major international organizations continue to place high-quality education at the center of their development agendas, and for good reason: high-quality education—especially for women and girls—supports the achievement of multiple economic and human development goals for communities and nations across the globe. But in order to achieve high quality education, one key factor must first be addressed: the development of high-quality teachers. This practicum will place participants at the center of this increasingly important work. In partnership with The Dignitas Project, an innovative and robust NGO working to develop teacher and community leadership in the urban slums of Nairobi, Kenya, practicum participants will develop a culturally-responsive and comprehensive educational program evaluation toolkit in support of the organization's efforts to assess their teacher leadership development program. Practicum participants will also develop a parent-community leadership development program for the organization. Visit the Kenya Practicum page for more information.

Assessing Community Impact in Myanmar and Evaluation Training in Thailand

Instructor: Alex Cromwell
Term: Summer 2017
Location: Mandalay, Myanmar and Chiang Mai, Thailand

As Myanmar engages in significant political and economic reform, students will have the opportunity to conduct a community level impact evaluation (from start to finish) of a community fellowship program, in a country where development will be an imperative for many years to come. Traveling to a post-conflict context such as Myanmar provides students with the opportunity to conduct an evaluation of a program that works with ethnic groups from all over the country, allowing for the analysis of international interveners in communities affected by conflict and prejudice. Throughout the course students will be asked to reflect on their own cultural orientation and how it impacts their interactions with people in the local context. This will give students applied experience in conducting evaluations on programs that involve cross-cultural interaction. Students will also have the opportunity to conduct a training in Chiang Mai, Thailand, substantially building their resume. Visit the Myanmar Practicum page for more information.

Education Diplomacy: Building US-Cuban Educational Partnerships

Instructor: Amanda Taylor
Term: Summer 2016
Location: Havana, Cuba

International education is a key public diplomacy tool supporting the advancement of US strategic initiatives abroad. The recent restoration of full diplomatic relations with Cuba has thus prompted an abundance of interest among US higher education institutions (HEIs) in building partnerships and programs with universities on the island. Yet alongside this surge of activity, there remains a knowledge gap in terms of the strategic use of resources, alignment of priorities, and infrastructure capabilities to support the effective and sustainable development of exchange programs and partnerships. Visit the Cuba Practicum page for more information.

Cultural Diplomacy and International Exchange

Instructor: Sherry Mueller
Term: Spring 2016
Location: Washington, DC

International exchange programs are an essential component of public diplomacy. Practicum participants will learn about major actors and resources in the field. They will study a conceptual framework for evaluating the effectiveness of exchanges. They will also focus on efforts to conduct advocacy on behalf of US government sponsored flagship exchange programs, such as the Fulbright Program and the International Visitor Leadership Program, by building partnerships with elected officials.

Program Assessment in Intercultural Leadership Development

Instructor: Amanda Taylor
Term: Fall 2015
Location: Washington, DC

Global actors are increasingly recognizing that strategic partnerships between the private and non-governmental sectors are necessary to address the world's complex and evolving problems. To this end, many multinational corporations are partnering with community-based organizations in developing contexts in order to build the skills of their future leaders, develop mutually beneficial innovation strategies, and build capacity at the local level to make sustainable change.Pxyera Global is a global not-for-profit organization that builds and sustains these global partnerships in order to ensure that both the corporations and local organizations learn and grow from the experience. This practicum will be focused on assessing the longitudinal impact of Pyxera Global's "global pro bono" programs on the intercultural leadership development of participants. The practicum will likely have three discrete (but related) sub-projects, with deliverables including: 1) a comprehensive literature review of existing intercultural leadership development theories/frameworks and a suggestion as to the most appropriate model to best reflect the specific value proposition of Pyxera's programs and 2) the development of a comprehensive research design , methodology and related set of instruments to assess longitudinal program impact.

Leadership Development, Program Design and Assessment in International Education

Instructor: Amanda Taylor
Term: Summer 2015
Location: Nairobi, Kenya

The practicum will consist of at least two projects. The first will involve developing and pilot testing a qualitative evaluation toolkit to track the results of the partner organization's extensive teacher leadership development program. In Nairobi, practicum participants will work with the partner organization and its local community partners to gather data to inform the development of these metrics and will engage in pilot testing of evaluation tools as appropriate. Based on the results of the pilot tests, practicum participants will produce a final evaluation toolkit along with an associated handbook for the organization to launch at its fall training institute. The second project will involve helping the organization better address their goals to develop the leadership of the other key teachers in students' lives: their parents. In this project, practicum participants will design a parent and community leadership development program to help the organization more fully develop its broader mission of community transformation through education. In Nairobi, practicum participants will interview and conduct focus groups with parents and community leaders as well as members of the Dignitas team to determine what kinds of parent leadership development programs might be most helpful and feasible for all stakeholders. Finally, the practicum participants will develop a parent leadership development program for Dignitas to pilot in the fall.

Strategic Communication

Instructor: Eric J. Novotny
Term: Spring 2015
Location: Washington, DC

This practicum course is designed to develop and refine students' strategic communication skills in the context of an applied research situation. Students will organize into teams of three or four and will be given a specific project assignment from a sponsoring client, with specific tasks and deliverables. To prepare for the projects, students will review project management and communication skills with the instructor. Each project will emphasize classic organizational communication issues such as persuasive issue campaigns, outreach strategies, social media and marketing communications. The projects may also include a special emphasis on the use of information and communication technologies. Clients will include major NGOs, intergovernmental organizations, research, trade and policy organizations. At the conclusion of the Practicum, students will have had an opportunity to actively assist an organization in formulating and applying communication strategies both internally and with its major stakeholders.

Practicum in Social Diplomacy

Instructor: Sherry Mueller
Location: Washington, DC

International exchange programs are an essential component of public diplomacy. Practicum participants will study major actors and resources in the field as well as a conceptual framework for evaluating the effectiveness of exchanges. Each of three teams of students will research and report on one of the following topics: 1) international student flows and U.S. and Dutch efforts to recruit international students and provide enrichment activities in their capital cities;2) building a domestic constituency for exchanges;and 3) recruiting Millennials to participate in citizen diplomacy programs. Clients include the International Student House in Washington, DC /the City of The Hague, the Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, and the National Council for International Visitors.  

Practicum in Multilateral Institutions

Instructor: Jill Schuker
Location: Washington, DC

Explores the role multilateral institutions play in the early 21st century, US attitudes, expectations, fragility and the challenges and opportunities for effective multilateralism. Students will work with specific multilateral institutions and those evaluating them to assess meaning, value, viability, operations, public attitudes, and special challenges internally and externally. There will be an evaluation of the global context in which these institutions find themselves and why (as has been raised in a recent Foreign Policy article) there is a "leaning in" "'leaning away."Students will conduct evaluations of specific institutions, and help the client determine whether they are heading in the right direction for short/long term success and offer specific recommendations. The expectation is that there will be "'actionable"" insights and viable next steps at the end of the semester based on student analysis and assessment. Depending on class size and real-time assessment, the expectation this year is that the two or three clients will include the UN Development Program, the Council on Foreign Relations, PEW Trust and the Department of State. There will be 2-3 specific speakers during the semester.

Research Seminar and Practicum in International Communication

Instructor: Derrick Cogburn
Location: Washington, DC

This seminar prepares students to conceptualize, design, and present a substantial research paper (SRP), practicum project, or an academic thesis proposal by providing a comprehensive introduction to social science research methods and approaches applicable to a diverse range of interdisciplinary research interests. The seminar focuses on theory and practice, including hands-on training in research design, and project evaluation to support a SRP, practicum project, or master's thesis. Usually offered every spring.