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Fall 2015 Practica

1) China in Africa

China's presence in Sub-Saharan Africa has grown dramatically in the last decade. Its economic, political, military, cultural and diplomatic ties with the countries of the region have mushroomed. China has become an important alternative partner (to the U.S. and Europe) for African governments and businesses alike. This practicum will study whether China's new role threatens the extremely important U.S. national interests in Sub-Saharan Africa. The practicum's client will be the Bureau of African Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. Students on the practicum team will meet periodically with senior officials in that Bureau and will research the issues identified by the Bureau as the U.S. Government's most pressing concerns with regard to China and Sub-Saharan Africa. Students will study how the U.S. Congress views China's expanding role in Africa and how the Congress influences the Executive Branch's policymaking process. Students will also study non-profit organizations –those focused on human rights, national security, business, labor, and ethnic groups –and how they influence the decision-making process on Sub-Saharan Africa. Students will provide the client with a jointly researched and written paper and will make recommendations on U.S. policy changes that could strengthen U.S. interests in Sub-Saharan Africa vis-à-vis China. A previous practicum on China's engagement in Latin America resulted in the Department of State adopting and implementing some of the policy recommendations made by students.

Client: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of African Affairs

Professor: Ambassador Sally Shelton-Colby has held a number of senior positions in the public, corporate and non-profit sectors and in international organizations. She has been Deputy Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in Paris, France;Assistant Administrator for Global Programs at the U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Ambassador to Grenada, Barbados and several other Eastern Caribbean countries; Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America; and Legislative Assistant to Senator (later Secretary of the Treasury) Lloyd Bentsen. She was Vice President of Bankers Trust Co., where she was responsible for managing the bank's political risk in developing countries during the third world debt crisis of the 1980s. Ambassador Shelton-Colby has served on several non-profit boards, including the National Endowment for Democracy and the National Democratic Institute. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the Institut des Sciences Politiques in Paris.

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2) Sustainable Institution Building in Law Enforcement Organizations

The International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) of the U.S. Department of Justice has a mission to keep the world safe by promoting human rights and global rule of law, developing capacity to fight transnational crime, terrorism, and corruption, helping to build professional law enforcement institutions, and advancing international law enforcement partnerships. In this practicum students will write a report that analyzes how ICITAP has promoted sustainable institutional development in a variety of law enforcement organizations around the world. Sustainable institutional development refers to programs that improve the functioning of organizations through external inputs and oversight to the point that they can operate at a sufficiently high level where they are no longer dependent on direct outside support. In addition to the written report, students will prepare two briefs that will be delivered to mid-level officials and senior executives in the U.S. government, and to ICITAP's international partners. Students will work closely with ICITAP staff, and the final deliverables will be used to provide information to ICITAP program managers around the world.

Client: U.S. Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program

Professor: Trace Lasley is an adjunct professor at AU's School of Public Affairs, where he teaches on terrorism and political violence. He is an expert in civil conflict, transnational crime, and insurgency. Lasley is also a Strategy and Policy Analyst in the Office of Strategy, Planning, Analysis and Risk at the Department of Homeland Security. His role is strategy development and analysis, including both quantitative and qualitative research, in support of Department-wide policy questions. He also acts as a link to the academic community and supervises the student internship program. Before coming to DHS, Lasley taught international relations, African politics, and social science research methods at Auburn University and the University of Kentucky.

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3) Conflict Transformation, Peacebuilding, and Human Security

Originally conceived in the context of post-conflict recovery efforts to promote reconciliation and reconstruction, the term "peacebuilding" has more recently taken on a broader meaning. The peacebuilding continuum now involves a range of distinct but closely related activities, from providing humanitarian relief, to protecting human rights, to ensuring security, to aiding economic reconstruction and development, to building community resilience, governance, reconciliation and conflict prevention. In a larger sense, peacebuilding involves a transformation toward more manageable, peaceful relationships and governance structures.

This practicum focuses on key aspects of contemporary peacebuilding; specifically on building the socio-political infrastructure necessary for a more durable peace in fragile and conflict-prone states. Students will work with international non-governmental organizations, such as Search for Common Ground, Partners for Democratic Change, and Global Communities;with government agencies, such as The Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations (CSO) at the United States Department of State, the Office of Conflict Management and Mitigation (CMM) at USAID, and the US Institute of Peace;and with the umbrella association of peacebuilding and development organizations, the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

Students will work closely with staff of client organizations on topics such as atrocity risk and prevention, building community resiliency, fostering public-private partnerships to promote peace, advancing reconciliation and building social cohesion. The practicum will provide opportunities for practical skills development in such areas as advanced research and formulation of policy options;development of resiliency implementation strategies;programming to enhance local peacebuilding capacity;cross-cultural communication; intergroup and inter-organizational dynamics, including headquarters-field relations;and monitoring and evaluation. Regional foci include Latin America, Africa, particularly the Sahel and the Great Lakes region, and the Middle East.

While students from all programs are welcome to apply, special consideration will be given to applicants with course work and/or experience in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, development, human security, and area studies. 

Clients: Please see above for likely clients.  

Professor: Hrach Gregorian, Ph.D., is President of the Institute of World Affairs, a DC NGO that for decades has been engaged in conflict resolution and peacebuilding training, research and consultation in the US and overseas. He was a Director at the US Institute of Peace from 1988 to 1993, and is a co-founder and current board member of the Alliance for Peacebuilding.

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4) Intelligence Analysis

The class produces an intelligence report intended to serve as a DIA product to be posted on their internal web site serving the intelligence, defense, and diplomatic communities. The topic is selected after discussions with DIA management and based on intelligence priorities at the time. Previous DIA research topics have included analysis on: the Syrian civil war, al Qaeda's propaganda efforts, and Turkey's foreign policy. However, US national security priorities shift rapidly, and other evolving issues might be addressed.

Client: Defense Intelligence Agency 

Professor: Aki Peritz is a former CIA counterterrorism analyst and coauthor of Find Fix Finish: Inside the Counterterrorism Campaigns that Killed bin Laden &Devastated Al Qaeda. He recently worked at Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and at Third Way, where he synthesized complex national security issues for Members of Congress. Aki has written for and provided insight on national security topics to numerous television and print media outlets, including Fox News, National Public Radio, BBC World, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and Foreign Policy.

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5) Climate Ethics and Environmental Justice

For this practicum, students will work for one of two clients on human rights issues related to environmental justice.

Project 1: Corporate markets campaigning

Client: Greenpeace

Some of Greenpeace's most widely recognized campaigns use markets strategies to compel corporations to improve their sustainability policies and practices. Recognizing that creating change in one corporation at a time is not sufficient to match the scale and breadth of environmental crises we face, Greenpeace campaigns also seek to leverage the influence of corporate champions within their sectors and up their supply chains, and to ultimately lock in improvements across the board via government action. Greenpeace corporate markets campaigns in the last 10+ years have addressed issues ranging from toxics and energy use in the IT sector to slavery and piracy in the fishing industry.

Also in the past 10+ years, corporate social responsibility (CSR) efforts have taken hold and are progressing steadily, in some areas quite rapidly. In more recent years, the movement toward greater corporate responsibility has expanded to encompass a broader focus on corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) transparency and accountability. Many new initiatives (e.g., SASB) are part of an ever-evolving landscape that has moved sustainability from the margins to the center of businesses' strategic thinking.

Key Questions include: Greenpeace's approach to driving corporations to improve their sustainability is quite different from other groups (e.g., WWF, WRI, EDF, Conservation International), many of which are much more directly engaged in ongoing dialogues with companies in key sectors that impact their issues. How could independent campaign groups like Greenpeace –whose style is more often to pressure companies from the outside –be more effective, without following that model? Are there new opportunities in the evolving sustainability landscape that Greenpeace, in contrast to other groups, is particularly well-suited to take on? Given current trends in corporate ESG, what could Greenpeace do to drive sustainability initiatives even further? Are there factors that are likely to become bigger drivers of sustainability in the next 3, 5, or 10 years on which Greenpeace could focus more of ita efforts to help accelerate the process? Are there any new developments, or areas that have so far been overlooked, in the corporate accountability sphere where Greenpeace could make a significant contribution?  

Project 2: Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network 

Client: World Wildlife Fund 

This practicum project will analyze international human and narcotics trafficking policy successes and failures, and present how lessons learned might be applied to combat global wildlife crime. 

Areas of analysis: 

  1. Analyze international policy successes and failures to combat human trafficking and narcotics trafficking. Present policy recommendations/lessons learned that might be applied to combat global wildlife crime.
  2. Analyze legal frameworks and policies within the transportation industry (airlines, air/sea freight and cargo) to manage risk of human and narcotics trafficking. Present policy recommendations/lessons learned on how to avoid trafficking in wildlife and wildlife products via the transport industry.
  3. Research and present case studies of co-trafficking in persons/narcotics/wildlife (where information is available from international media reports, white papers, interviews and other resources). Present on findings. 
  1. Report that will serve as a resource for future policy and industry recommendations
  2. Presentation of findings to TRAFFIC and WWF-US experts

Professor: Jeff Bachman is a professor of human rights and Director of Ethics, Peace, and Global Affairs. He focuses in genocide, U.S. foreign policy and human rights, and state responsibility and individual accountability for violations of human rights law and international humanitarian law. He is especially interested in the misuse of the law as a political tool through its selective application and enforcement. Bachman has field experience working for Amnesty International in the Government Relations for Europe/Eurasia program.

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6) Program Assessment in Intercultural Leadership Development 

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.  

Client: Pxyera Global 

Professor: Amanda Taylor's research and teaching focus on the intersection of culture, power, and education. She is particularly interested in the role of race in shaping educational policy and practice as well as community organizing for school reform. Her work has been published by Oxford University Press, the Free Press, and in peer-reviewed journals including Urban Education and Equity &Excellence in Education. Before joining the faculty at SIS, Dr. Taylor taught at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the Relay Graduate School of Education, and in public and international high schools. She served as the Director of Graduate Enrollment Management at SIS for six years and has consulted for the District of Columbia Public Schools, Mass Insight Education, and the Civil Rights Project (now at UCLA).

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