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Fall 2016 Practica

Spring 2017 Practica

Climate Change Communication


This practicum involves collaborating with design specialists to create an integrated educational opportunity for students around the world, focusing on the US, China and Taiwan. Like the 9 suns that Hou Yi will tackle on the stage, students will create an educational strategy built around 9 climate-related hotspots plaguing our planet (e.g. climate refugees, global resource consumption, ocean acidification, biodiversity change and loss, climate and energy, polar melt, sea level rise, climate and traditional ecological knowledge, extreme weather events, resource competition, freshwater scarcity). Through The Sun Archer app and school interface curriculum that American University MA students will design, elementary, middle, and college students (and the broad general public) will be guided through interactive animation to add video content they filmed in their communities related to each of the 9 hotspots. In the future, viewers' stand-alone short videos shared via FB, Instagram and other social media platforms will further illustrate the way these hotspots are permeating all communities on earth, as well as, our interconnectedness and need for global synergy in solving these problems. With The Sun Archer creative team, the participants in this practicum will utilize their collective skills to research and design content for both the app and integrated curriculum.

Affecting Institutional Culture Change for Intercultural Competence


Institutional culture is the foundation of an organization's existence. It impacts the organization's values, behavioral norms, and image to both internal and external stakeholders. In our ever-more interconnected world, it is imperative for organizations to be culturally competent and globally focused to survive. Organizations of all sizes and sectors can benefit by assessing how culturally competent their institutional cultures are, and to engage in organizational culture change efforts to enhance their organizational cultural competencies. Through this practicum, students will 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 will be exposed to concepts of organizational culture change management and organizational behavior change. They will link these concepts to skills for building culturally comptent and inclusive institutional cultures, both domestic and global. Students will 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.

Global Health: Family Planning


In this practicum, students will partner with Avenir Health to help develop tools that will inform strategic policy and programmatic decision making related to family planning. Students participating in the practicum will engage in two modeling exercises that use demographic, social, economic, and political data to estimate potential contraceptive use within a country and its sub-regions. The deliverable for Avenir Health will be a write-up of the results of the modeling exercises as well as a presentation to senior staff. Both exercises will be based on the new FP Goals Model, which is designed to help governments develop family planning strategy by setting realistic goals and prioritizing investments across different family planning interventions. First, students will carry out a validity check on the model to assess how well the model's predictions match actual change in contraceptive use over time. Second, students will work to refine the portion of the model related to the enabling environment so that it can include a greater number of variables that reflect social reality, such as gender equality and changing norms, and better capture the policy environment.

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Intelligence Analysis


The European and U.S. Homeland Counterterrorism Ramifications of Terrorism North Africa. As Islamic extremist factions gain traction, solidify territory, and expand their influence in North Africa, what are the implications for European and U.S. homeland security? Islamist extremist groups in North Africa have some capability, and a long history of desiring, to conduct attacks in Europe and to a lesser degree the U.S. homeland -- how and to what degree will their consolidation in North Africa facilitate the pursuit of these or other goals? The analysis from this study will directly support the Defense Intelligence Agency's input to the Defense Department's related plan against transregional terrorism threats as well as the Agency's Force Protection support to Combat Commands and deployed forces.

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Intelligence Analysis


The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) provides intelligence to the U.S. military and defense policymakers. This project seeks to fill a specific requirement in the DIA for information related to second and third order effects of the Syrian civil war. Students collectively research and write a substantial research report and an executive summary that describe and explain mechanisms the Lebanese government and the international community could employ to address the many economic, military, and political challenges facing Lebanon. The report includes recommendations on a variety of subtopics, such as the Lebanese military, politics and governance, economic policy, and counter-extremism. Students also deliver an oral presentation on their research and recommendations to officials from the DIA.

Dangerous Decline of Democracy


According to Freedom House, in 2015 for the tenth straight year democracy has been rolling back all around the world. Not a single region of the world has remained untouched. Even nationas that had been held up as democratic models have regressed. In many countries populist and far-right parties with little commitment to civil liberties and democratic norms are gaining in popularity. Some authoritarian governments have witnessed growing clout and, some scholars argue, are even cooperating directly with each other to thwart democracy's progress. In many countries, the middle class, long considered the linchpin to successful democratization, has turned against democracy. This practicum will explore why the decline of democracy is happening, and develop recommendations as to what the U.S. Government can do about it. Our client is likely to be the Bureau of Policy Planning at the U.S. Department of State.

Central America Security Challenges and Opportunities


This practicum will identify, analyze and prioritize the options that the incoming Administration and Congress will have in dealing with Central America's pressing issues, which have profound implications for the United States including security, migration, stability, and quality of democracy.

Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding


This practicum focuses on key aspects of contemporary peacebuilding: specifically on rebuilding, or building, social and political infrastructure in fragile and conflict prone states. Students work with international non-governmental organizations, such as the Dakar-based Soros Open Society Initiative for West Africa; government agencies, such as The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) at the United States Department of State; and for-profit clients such as Creative Associates International. Topics include civil building, empowerment of youth and women, economic and political governance, rule of law, human rights and countering violent extremism.

Leadership and Management of Peacebuilding NGOs


This practicum focuses on key aspects of peacebuilding organizations - specifically on leadership, organization development and program strategies, staffing structures, financing and governance. Students will 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.

Issues of Multinational Enterprise


Students gain experience in the field of international business consulting by undertaking research projects for US and foreign multinational enterprises, giving the clients 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 students' growth and learning experiences. Practicum students also learn new oral and written presentation skills to enhance their resumes. Clients: Rosetta Stone, EchoStar (Dish Network), Freelusion, LLC, yummber, LLC.

U.S. Agricultural Policy


In this School of International Service capstone practicum, a team of graduate students will partner with executive directors and community leaders of the Rural Coalition/Coalicion Rural and the National Family Farm Coalition to conduct original and timely mixed-methods research on domestic and international impacts of US agricultural policy. This participatory action research project builds upon and deepens four previous years of collaborative scholarship with these umbrella organizations - which together encompass a broad alliance of hundreds of grassroots groups led by predominately underrepresented growers and ranchers (women and minority farmers, farmworkers, small-scale family farms, indigenous groups, agrarian cooperatives, and immigrant growers). These organizations comprise the North American branch of La Via Campesina, the transnational grassroots agrarian movement.

In particular, the 2017 team will look at two major issues: agricultural cooperatives and their relationship with international agricultural trade, and historical and current farm movements for supply management policies and price floors. Students will meet with the community partners periodically throughout the semester to receive counsel on research processes and feedback on research findings; they will also travel to rural places to interview and learn directly from diverse agrarian leaders.

U.S. Policy toward Egypt


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.

Human Rights and National Security


Students partnering with will complete a comparative analysis of Russian and coalition airstrikes in Syria. Working with an event-specific multimedia archive, participants will help to determine whether there are any identifiable variables which might explain key differences in reported civilian deaths and injuries resulting from each belligerent's actions.

Global Political Economy and Sustainable Development: Designing a World Bank Education Project in the Middle East


In many middle and low-income countries, the delivery of public services is sometimes irregular and unpredictable. Will my daughters teacher show up for school today? Will our school receive its annual budget before the school year starts? As the school principal, does my school have resources and teachers needed to be effective in the classroom? This practicum will explore causes and consequences of unpredictable and intermittent public service delivery in education.

Working with the World Bank Education team on a project in the Middle East, students will experience what it is like to address issues related to public service delivery in education from the perspective of a multilateral institution. Students will work on the design and early implementation stages of a large $400 million sector-wide World Bank operation. The proposed project covers six areas of education, including: early childhood development, teacher professionalism, student assessment, workforce development, school governance and management, and ICT in education. Students will learn the nuts and bolts of project design from types of World Bank documents used to how World Bank teams interact with government clients. Students will have first hand engagement with their Bank client and will report to the project's team leader. This work will involve: (A) developing and understanding of the country context, policies, challenges and concerns related to the delivery of education services; (B) exploring research-evidence on international best practices related to service delivery; (C) providing a specified technical input into the design of World Bank projects and (D) working with the client toward a useful deliverable to assist them in their work. This course provides students with two unique opportunities: One, students will get firsthand experience working with a multilateral institution on issues related to service delivery and sustainable development, including what it is like to work with a client to deliver a final product. Two, student will be exploring various elements related to service delivery. These include: resources and budgets, information-flows, decision-making processes, service delivery mechanisms, and accountability for service provision.

Service Success: Refugee Workforce Placement (Online)


One of the greatest challenges in refugee resettlement is job acquisition, a key to the economic stability, as well as the self-esteem and respect that comes with being a contributing member of society. Without social and professional networks and English language skills, newly resettled refugees are particularly at a disadvantage in their job-seeking efforts, even when they have considerable skills and credentials. HIAS is interested in finding ways to increase refugees' success in getting jobs by identifying innovative ways to connect the key stakeholders (refugees, employers, and HIAS Jewish community affiliates) in ways that would boost refugee job acquisition.

Securing Sustainable Gains in Afghanistan (Online)


Fifteen years after the start of Operation Enduring Freedom, the path to stability and development in Afghanistan remains elusive. One particular challenge is connecting ongoing efforts to build government security capacity to parallel efforts to develop governance, infrastructure, and social services from the local to national level. Students will support the Commander's initiative Group of the Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan (SOJTF-A) by researching international and inter-agency programs in the country. The students will analyze the effects of programs and their impact on US efforts to promote security in the country.

Spring Practica

  • Climate Change Communication
  • Affecting Institutional Culture Change for Intercultural Competence
  • Global Health: Family Planning
  • Intelligence Analysis with Prof. Deni
  • Intelligence Analysis with Prof. Peritz
  • Dangerous Decline of Democracy
  • Central America Security Challenges and Opportunities
  • Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding
  • Leadership and Management of Peacebuilding NGOs
  • Issues of Multinational Enterprise
  • U.S. Agricultural Policy
  • U.S. Policy toward Egypt
  • Human Rights and National Security
  • Global Political Economy & Sustainable Development
  • Service Success: Refugee Workforce Placement
  • Securing Sustainable Gains in Afghanistan