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Spring 2018 Practica

Spring 2018

Assessment of International Education Programs

PROFESSOR: Leeanne Dunsmore

Course time: Wednesdays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

This course will examine, in a comparative context, government investments in international education to enhance human capacity and economic prosperity.  Students will evaluate the goals of international scholarship programs, mobility outcomes and impact, and make recommendations to clients for future investments and engagement.

Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding

PROFESSOR: Hrach Gregorian

Course time: Thursdays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

This practicum increases familiarity with the practice of contemporary peacebuilding; specifically, on rebuilding, or building, social and political infrastructure in fragile and conflict prone states and communities. Students work with international non-governmental organizations, such as Partners Global and RESOLVE; civil society organizations, such as the Washington, DC-based Alliance of Concerned Men; government agencies, such as the U. S. Department of State; and for-profit clients such as Creative Associates International. Topics include civil society building, empowerment of youth and women, economic and political governance, rule of law, human rights, and countering violent extremism.

Cuba: Deepening Normalization

PROFESSOR: Fulton Armstrong

Course time: Wednesdays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

The normalization of bilateral relations launched by Presidents Obama and Castro in December 2014 has made historic progress but still faces major obstacles.  Government-to-government cooperation has advanced rapidly; commercial flights have been regularized; people-to-people travel has skyrocketed; and other forms of contact are emerging.  Nonetheless, limitations on both sides – legal, regulatory, structural, and political – have stymied other normal forms of engagement from blossoming, particularly commercial ties.  Uncertainty over the direction of policy in both countries, moreover, has itself slowed normalization.  The Trump Administration has committed to getting a “better deal” from Cuba and is contemplating curbing contact, and Havana is about to undergo a significant transfer of power from President Castro, who has announced his retirement in February, to a new leadership team.  This practicum assesses the normalization process so far; analyzes the opportunities and obstacles ahead; and develops strategies for anticipating and resolving challenges to the evolution of the healthy, mutually beneficial relationship that both countries seek.  The principal clients of the Practicum analysis and recommendations package will be Washington-based organizations interested in U.S.-Cuba relations.  Informal clients likely will include specialists and policymakers in the Cuban and U.S. governments.

Human Rights and National Security

PROFESSOR: Jeff Bachman

Course time: Thursdays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

This practicum will explore some of the most pressing issues facing the human rights and atrocities prevention communities. Students will gain experience in conducting policy analysis, research, and writing to create policy briefs, white papers, and educational materials focusing on topics such as mass atrocities prevention, negotiated settlements, peacebuilding, structural prevention, and protracted displacement. By helping to create in-depth white papers and shorter policy briefs/one-pagers, students will learn how to communicate to both high-level policymakers and grassroots communities. Students' work may be used in advocacy efforts to move legislation, brief policymakers, and inform grassroots advocates. 

Intelligence Analysis


Course time: Thursdays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

The Department of the Treasury's Office of Intelligence and Analysis (OIA) is the client for this practicum. The class produces an OIA-focused report intended to serve Treasury and the larger intelligence, policy, defense, and diplomatic communities. The semester's topic likely will focus upon examining Middle Eastern banking organizations and their connections with local political parties and terrorist groups. However, US national security priorities shift rapidly, and another pressing topic might be instead addressed.

Issues of Multinational Enterprise

PROFESSOR: Catherine Bocskor

Course time: Tuesdays 8:20 - 10:50pm (subject to change)

Students gain experience in the field of international business consulting by undertaking research projects for U.S. and foreign multinational enterprises, giving clients including Danfoss, Inc. and Patton Electronics advice on real-life business and regulatory problems. The practicum emphasizes research, data presentation, and analytic skills, while teaching the students how to work together as a team. Students learn how to manage the clients' demands and expectations while working closely with high-level business executives who take a personal interest in the student's' growth and learning experiences. Students also learn new oral and written presentation skills to enhance their resumes.

Leadership/Management of Peacebuilding NGOs

PROFESSOR: Chic Dambach

Course time: Mondays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

This practicum focuses on key aspects of peacebuilding organizations, specifically on leadership, organization development and program strategies, staffing structures, financing and governance. Students work with international non-governmental organizations, such as the Alliance for Peacebuilding, Institute for Economics and Peace, and USAID prime contract agencies such as MSI and Creative Associates. Topics include strategic planning, budgeting, leadership concepts, and evaluation applied to peacebuilding organizations.

Sustainable Agriculture

PROFESSOR: Vicky Kiechel

Course time: Mondays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

SIS alumnus Suzanne Hunt’s family has farmed on the shores of Lake Keuka, one of the New York State Finger Lakes, for seven generations. Along with advising her family's winery on sustainable agriculture, Suzanne – who until recently led the WorldWatch Institute’s bioenergy work, as well as acting as Senior Advisor to the Carbon War Room -- provides policy, political, and investment advising on energy, agriculture, transportation, and the environment to a range of national and international clients. Specific topics considered for this practicum include a comparative analysis of sustainable wine certifications;  creating a wine certification scheme for the Finger Lakes; constructed vineyard wetlands and onsite greywater treatment; and the leveraging of environmental and cultural factors into the winery's climate change education aspirations. This practicum is relevant for anyone with an interest in sustainable agriculture, viniculture, local impacts of climate change, how to mobilize communities around green issues, sustainable design, eco-labels, certification systems, the power of branding in consumer market transformation, and supply chain strategies.

Click here for a more detailed description.

U.S. Policy Toward Egypt

PROFESSOR: Gregory Aftandilian

Course time: Mondays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

The practicum examines the intricacies of U.S. policy toward Egypt and the dilemmas U.S. policymakers face as they try to balance often contradictory interests in the strategic, political, economic and human rights spheres. The end result of the course is a student-prepared, major policy paper that is presented and briefed to the course's client--a State Department official who is policymaker on Egyptian affairs.

Wicked Problem for US National Security

PROFESSOR: Sally Shelton-Colby

Course time: Mondays 5:30 - 8:00pm (subject to change)

Russian influence is increasingly ascendant in the Middle East and North Africa.  Besides saving the regime of its Syrian ally President Bashar al-Assad, there are signs of a potential new Russian intervention in Libya in support of a non-U.N.-recognized military figure; reports of a Russian special forces deployment to western Egypt and other new military cooperation with Egypt; and growing diplomatic engagement with Israel and Saudi Arabia.  And of course there is the seemingly close relationship Russia is cultivating with Iran and Turkey.  At a time of perceived U.S. disengagement from the region, Russia's expanding role raises important questions about Moscow's interests and capabilities in the Middle East and North Africa and implications for U.S. national security. 

World Bank Monitoring

PROFESSOR: Rachel Nadelman

Course time: Mondays 8:20 - 10:50pm (subject to change)

In the world of International Development, the field of transparency and accountability is rapidly expanding. The Bank Information Center (BIC), the client for this practicum, is a leading watchdog organization whose mission is to hold multilateral development banks accountable for their social and environmental public commitments.  Organizations like BIC are often important external allies for staff inside these institutions who are working to promote and sustain reforms. Students will assess how the World Bank has carried out its 2014 Citizen Engagement Strategy, which made ambitious commitments for mainstreaming citizen involvement in operations.This is an opportunity to learn applied  policy analysis and experience how public interest groups both monitor from the outside and collaborate with internal change-makers to promote change in large, powerful institutions.

ONLINE - Alternative Strategies: Russia, Eastern Europe, NATO and the United States

PROFESSOR: Stephen Mariano

Course time: Wednesdays 7:30 - 8:50pm EST (subject to change)

Last year, General Phillip Breedlove, the former Commander of US European Command (USEUCOM), stated in Congressional Testimony that Russian aggression in the Baltics and Ukraine caused “unease among NATO’s eastern flank members.” He added that Russia’s use of unresolved conflicts as a foreign policy tool was often “manufactured by Russia to provide pretext for military intervention and ensure the Kremlin maintains levels of influence in the sovereign matters of other states.”  The United States and its NATO allies responded in various diplomatic, informational, military and economic ways. Students in this practica will examine whether Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe have allowed the Kremlin to successfully pursue its foreign policy or whether their actions have been counter-productive. Students will examine the U.S./NATO response and explore alternative options.

ONLINE - The Global Impact Investing Environment

PROFESSOR: Lisa Schieble Willems

Course time: Tuesdays 7:30 - 8:50pm EST (subject to change)

Impact investing - investing for both financial and social / environmental returns - is gaining popularity around the world. Impact investors support ventures as diverse as clean energy, sustainable agriculture, affordable housing and women's leadership. In this practicum, students will learn about the current landscape of impact investing and how it relates to international development and philanthropy.  Students will consult for a global action community for impact investors interested in expanding their operations in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.  The cons project will involve mapping new markets for expansion, identifying and conducting interviews with key stakeholders, and presenting findings and recommendations to the Board of the organization.  Students might also be asked to assist with another research topic as well based on the organization’s priorities in 2018.