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Announcing the Spring 2013 SIS Practica

SIS MA Students may apply for the spring 2013 practica by completing and submitting the spring 2013 Practica Application form . (Please note that the application form will be activated shortly.) The forms must be submitted no later than October 1, 2012. Applications will be reviewed by a selection committee and students will be notified of their practicum status no later than October 12, 2012. (Note: Students who are not accepted to a spring practicum course will need to arrange alternate plans to fulfill their MA capstone requirement.)

Plans are for the following practica to be offered in spring 2013:

  1. Conflict Resolution and Change Management in Transitioning Democracies (Gregorian)
  2. Cross Cultural Collaboration in Global Virtual Teams: Disability, Development, and Diplomacy (Cogburn)
  3. Drivers of Development and Conflict in the Mekong River Basin (Conca)
  4. Foreign and Defense Policy for the Middle East (McMillan – TBC)
  5. Intelligence Analysis (Martin-McCormick)
  6. International Financial Flows and Transnational Investment: Best Environmental Practices – includes overseas travel (Conca)
  7. Issues in International Economics and Business (Bocskor – TBC)
  8. Local-scale Sustainable Design in Washington DC (Kiechel)
  9. National Security and the Arctic (Clare – TBC)
  10. Program Evaluation of Health Prevention in Rwanda --includes overseas travel (Gregorian)
  11. Public Diplomacy (Schuker – TBC)
  12. Strategic Communication (Novotny)
  13. Supporting Youth Practitioners: Enhancing the Role of Youth in Development (Skalli-Hanna)
  14. US Food/Farm Bill Reform: Agricultural Policy for Social and Ecological Resilience (Kiechel)

For more detailed descriptions of the practica and professors, please see below.

To be eligible for the Spring 2013 SIS Practica, MA students must be in good academic standing, have completed 18 credits of graduate coursework by the end of the fall 2012 semester, and have opted into the new SIS MA requirements. (Students may still opt into the new MA requirements. Please contact the Graduate Advising Office for more information.) Students in the Social Enterprise (SE) program, or who have taken an SE concentration and/or have had significant experience working in SE, may participate in the separate SE practicum. Please contact SE director Robert Tomasko at tomasko@american.edu.

 

 

1) Conflict Resolution and Change Management in Transitioning Democracies

Partners for Democratic Change (www.partnersglobal.org) is an international NGO committed to building sustainable capacity to advance civil society, democratic institutions, and a culture of change and conflict management worldwide. A team of students will work with Partners DC office and global affiliates on a research project to support the work of Partners at the nexus of conflict resolution and change management skills in the context of supporting good governance in transitioning democracies. Partners is also interested in research options that support practical interventions in the fields of security sector reform and citizen security, democratic advocacy, and the empowerment of marginalized populations such as youth and women. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Ronald Fisher, director of IPCR, at rfisher@american.edu.

Professor: Dr. Hrach Gregorian is President of the Institute of World Affairs, a DC NGO which has been engaged in conflict resolution and peacebuilding training, research and consultation since the early 1990s in the US and numerous other countries. 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.

2) Cross Cultural Collaboration in Global Virtual Teams: Disability, Development and Diplomacy

This Practicum will provide an exciting opportunity to use global virtual teams and cross cultural collaboration strategies to help leading organizations accomplish their strategic goals. Students in this Practicum Course will be able to choose from eight projects that will involve one of the following six organizations: 1) United Nations (Department of Economic and Social Affairs - DESA; and Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific - ESCAP); 2) World Bank (Global Partnership on Disability and Development - GPDD; and Global Forum on Law, Justice, and Development - GFLJD), 3) Asia Pacific Development Center on Disability – APCD, 4) International Council for Education of People with Visual Impairment, 5) International Foundation for Electoral Systems (ASEAN Network for General Election Network for Disability Access - AGENDA), and 6) InterNews. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Derrick Cogburn, director of CIDP, at dcogburn@american.edu.

Professor: SIS Professor Derrick Cogburn’s research and teaching focus on global information and communication technology and socio-economic development; institutional mechanisms for global governance of ICTs; transnational policy networks and epistemic communities; and the socio-technical infrastructure for geographically distributed collaboration in knowledge work. He directs the Center for Research on Collaboratories and Technology Enhanced Learning Communities (Cotelco), an award-winning social science research collaboratory investigating the social and technical factors that influence geographically distributed collaborative knowledge work, particularly between developed and developing countries.

3) Drivers of Development and Conflict in the Mekong River Basin

The Mekong Basin is an extremely dynamic and complex ecological system facing rapidly-changing threats from growing populations, widening development, intensifying pollution and infrastructure development. Although the countries of the Lower Mekong river basin have agreed to manage their shared resources through the Mekong River Commission, collaborative basin management of the Mekong faces strong challenges rooted in the diverging interests of key stakeholders. Working with the State Department’s “water team”, the practicum team will undertake an analysis of the basin’s stakeholders and decision-makers, using interviews and questionnaires as well as existing data to clearly outline the political-economic dynamics, linkages and incentives that are driving action in the basin. This study will likely require qualitative and quantitative research on established development trends and emerging influences. Particular attention will be given to the interactive role of three factors--civil society groups, public-private investment partnerships, and international river management norms--in shaping the developmental trajectory of the basin and the choices of key actors. The practica partner will be the US Department of State, Office of Environmental Policy, Bureau of Oceans and International and Scientific Affairs. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Ken Conca, director of GEP, at conca@american.edu.

Professor: SIS Professor Ken Conca’s research and teaching focus on global environmental governance, environmental peacebuilding in war-torn societies, environmental politics and policy in the United Nations system, water governance, and environmental policy analysis. He is the author/editor of several books including Governing Water, Confronting Consumption, Environmental Peacemaking, The Crisis of Global Environmental Governance, and the widely used teaching anthology Green Planet Blues. He is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Conflict and Peacebuilding.

4) Foreign and Defense Policy for the Middle East

The Middle East is experiencing extraordinary security challenges and fundamental changes within and among countries in the region that require high-level U.S. leadership attention and restructured strategies. The Arab Awakening has empowered societies, changed regimes, and sparked violence. Iran's role in regional and global security may be coming to an inflection point, with greater international focus on its weapons programs and support for violent extremists and regimes. The U.S. is challenged to cope with the effects of peaceful transition (Egypt), violent transition (Libya and Syria), and potential new cases -- all while countering Iran and seeking change in its policies. In this practicum, students will work in teams to develop strategy and policy to meet this challenge. Each team will focus on preparing a U.S. cabinet secretary or equivalent for a summit on Middle East strategy with European leaders, including coordinating positions with other teams and preparing written briefing materials, background, and talking points. To simulate the real-world professional experience, teams will brief former senior U.S. government officials orally as well to prepare the senior leaders to represent the U.S. in a summit on Middle East strategy. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Celeste Wallander, director of IP, at wallande@american.edu.

Professor (TBC): Joseph McMillan most recently served as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense where he guided the development of DoD’s policy and strategy in response to the 2011 Arab Awakening; directly advised the Secretary of Defense on interaction with Egyptian military leaders through and after the February revolution; represented DoD in decision-making on intervention in Libya and worked with US military leaders to ensure the implementation of Presidential direction.

5) Intelligence Analysis

This practicum will focus on an intelligence-related question developed in coordination with the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA). The topic will center around changes in the international geo-political environment, potentially on issues like the shift in the global distribution of wealth or the impact of vastly expanding global communications. Students will interact with intelligence analysts and prepare a report on the issue for the DIA. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Shoon Murray, director of USFP, at shoon@american.edu.

Professor: David Martin-McCormick is a Scholar-in-Residence who focuses on counterterrorism, national security, and the intelligence community. Prior to teaching at SIS, Dr. Martin-McCormick spent a career working inside the intelligence community. He has worked as the Chief of Methodology and Computer Support Division at the Defense Intelligence Agency, as the Technical Director of the Conventional Forces Europe Treaty, Transparency Provisions on the Arms Control Intelligence Staff, and as the Director of the Analytic Transformation Program and Chief of Knowledge Management at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

6) International Financial Flows and Transnational Investment: Best Environmental Practices

The practicum partner is World Resources Institute (WRI), Program on International Financial Flows and the Environment (IFFE). WRI’s IFFE Program works to improve environmental and social decision making and performance of public and private International Financial Institutions (IFIs) by holding them accountable to their investors, to donor countries and to the communities that are impacted by their investments. IFFE is seeking to partner with a practicum team to develop documented case studies of best (and worst) environmental practices surrounding international financial flows and overseas investment, for use in a training program for Chinese officials. The cases developed by the team will be used to train Chinese policy makers and investors on international best practices, in the context of growing Chinese outward investment in developing countries. The team will select, assess, and document critical cases in selected sectors (tentatively to include energy, food/land use, and infrastructure). The case analysis will include an assessment of the relative impacts of actions by the host country, home country, relevant international actors (including civil society organizations), and investing firms. [Note: The team will travel to China over spring break, to work with a parallel team from a Chinese university that is developing China-specific case studies.] For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Ken Conca, director of GEP, at conca@american.edu.

Professor: SIS Professor Ken Conca’s research and teaching focus on global environmental governance, environmental peacebuilding in war-torn societies, environmental politics and policy in the United Nations system, water governance, and environmental policy analysis. He is the author/editor of several books including Governing Water, Confronting Consumption, Environmental Peacemaking, The Crisis of Global Environmental Governance, and the widely used teaching anthology Green Planet Blues. He is a member of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Expert Advisory Group on Conflict and Peacebuilding.

7) Issues in International Economics & Business

This practicum offers the opportunity to work on one of several issues involving international economics and business under the sponsorship of multinational corporation "clients" headquartered in the District of Columbia or its vicinity. Two or three teams will be tasked with assessing economic and political risks and opportunities for their respective client, because it is contemplating expanding its business presence into a particular country. While each team will focus on just one country for one client, it is likely that the countries to be studied by the teams will include at least one in Asia and at least one in the Middle East. In addition, another team will probably be tasked with assessing the likely impact of a new U.S. SEC regulation that will soon be affecting the operations of U.S. oil companies around the globe. And yet another team is likely to be mandated to analyze how the IMF currently deals, and historically has dealt, with governments that are out of compliance with their obligations under the Fund's charter, the Articles of Agreement. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Arturo Porzecanski, director of IER, at aporzeca@american.edu.

Professor (TBC): Catherine E. Bocskor, Esq. has served as General Counsel for several multinational corporations, including those with subsidiaries in the US, Canada, Europe, China, Latin America and the Middle East. She has also provided in-house counsel to Schering-Plough Corporation, served as Asst. Counsel for International Affairs for the U.S. Department of Labor (5 years); and as Special Assistant Attorney General for Maryland. She is the former Vice Chair of the ABA Section of International Law and Practice. In supervising this practicum, she will be assisted by Prof. Arturo Porzecanski, Director of IER.

8) Local-scale Sustainable Design in Washington DC

Depending on the size of the team and the orientation of student interests, the practicum team will focus on one or both of two elements of local sustainable design. The first possible element will be to assess the suitability of principles of “low-impact design” (a suite of practices that includes the installation of rain gardens/bio-retention, pervious pavement, green roofs, tree planting, and water harvesting) for a specific city block or blocks in DC, including data collection on current configuration, uses, and practices; feasibility assessment and cost/benefit analysis of options; and development of proposed design solutions. The second possible element will focus on the best green use of Washington, DC's small, unused triangles of land that result from cross-cutting avenues intersecting with the street grid. Team members will develop a vision for the sustainable use of these micro-parks, including the design of a recommended process for civic engagement and decision making. Partners include DC Office of Planning, District Department on the Environment (and possibly others). For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Ken Conca, director of GEP, at conca@american.edu.

Professor: Victoria Kiechel, AIA and LEED AP O+M, ID+C, is a practicing architect and native Washingtonian, whose teaching focuses on real-world, local projects in sustainable design. She works for the Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consultancy where she conducts research for the Appalachian Regional Commission and provides sustainability consulting for the Smithsonian Institution and other organizations seeking LEED certification. She worked for the U.S. Green Building Council on LEED v.3, and advises the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR commercial and industrial branch.

9) National Security and the Arctic

This practicum course will examine the role of the United States in this emerging security theater, with a special focus on U.S. Arctic Policy as articulated in National Security Presidential Directive 66 (NSPD-66). The Arctic has recently received increasing attention as an emerging international security hotspot. The increased human presence in the Arctic has heightened security concerns, including sovereignty and border protection, search and rescue, emergency response, and increased military operations, as well as issues related to continuing environmental changes. Can the United States fully achieve the diverse goals stated in this directive? Are these goals commensurate with one another? Do they conflict with the stated goals and strategies of other Arctic actors and stakeholders? How will further environmental changes and economic activities affect the prospects for achieving these goals? What systems of governance can be utilized to avoid potential conflicts, and minimize threats to persons, commercial interests and ecosystems? Students will consider these questions and others as they work to draft a set of useful and realistic Arctic national security policy recommendations for a US Government client. Although the students’ specific work product will ultimately be tailored to the client’s request, the students’ examination of the balancing of economic development and environmental protection and of international competition and cooperation will illuminate many of the core national security issues that will continue to drive the broader geopolitics of the 21st century. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Shoon Murray, director of USFP, at shoon@american.edu.

Professor (TBC): Dennis Clare is an international lawyer at the Institute for Governance and Sustainable Development focusing on multilateral environmental regimes including efforts to protect the Arctic, the Greenland Ice Sheet, and the Himalaya Kush Tibetan Plateau. He has worked with numerous organizations, including the Arctic Council and its Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Panel, the International Maritime Organization, and the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. Clare’s worked on the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Montreal Protocol focused permafrost melting and Arctic haze that directly impact the Arctic region.

10) Program Evaluation of Health Prevention in Rwanda

CHF International is a non-profit development organization that works in conflict-affected and developing countries (www.chfinternational.org). A team of up to six students will work with CHF's Rwanda programs in health education and prevention in a post-conflict environment, helping to increase the use of health and social support services among the most vulnerable. In order to provide a richer picture of program impact, the practicum team will review and use the Most Significant Change (MSC) methodology to capture qualitative information, photos and testimonies as evidence of positive family transformations. The team will identify criteria for the inclusion of target households, design an interview guide for field interviews, and partner with CHF staff and volunteers to collect interview data. This will occur during an approximately two week field research period during the December-January holiday break. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Ronald Fisher, director of IPCR, at rfisher@american.edu.

Professor: Dr. Hrach Gregorian is President of the Institute of World Affairs, a DC NGO which has been engaged in conflict resolution and peacebuilding training, research and consultation since the early 1990s in the US and numerous other countries. 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. In supervising the Rwanda practicum, he will be assisted by Prof. Ron Fisher, Director of IPCR.

11) Public Diplomacy: A Wake-Up Call: How do Multilaterals Prepare, Survive and be Effective in the Early 21st Century

This practicum will explore how specific multilateral organizations thrive in a global context of many competing interest, that is, how they meet the challenges they face, externally, internally and perhaps amongst themselves. Students will conduct evaluations of specific multilaterals to determine how they demonstrate their value, deal with budget realities, justify the government funds, deal with members/non members, handle global pressures, present their vision, build their identity, meet public expectations – and identify the role of public diplomacy in Multilateral Organizations. Client organizations under consideration include: The UN Foundation, the US Global Leadership Coalition, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Department of State. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Christine Chin, director of IC, at icsis@american.edu.

Professor (TBC): The Honorable Jill A. Schuker is the current Head of the Washington Center for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Ms. Schuker, a United States national, brings to the OECD over 30 years of expertise in public diplomacy, national security, and communication strategy. She has worked across the globe with both governments and societies in transition on a range of civil society, social responsibility, governance, modernization, reform, policy, media, evaluation and leadership issues.

12) Strategic Communication

The Strategic Communications practicum will focus on communications problems having an international context. Projects for this practicum will include, as examples: 1) Communications and outreach plans for NGOs, such as plans for moving into a new region, a new functional area, or a new class of donors and beneficiaries; 2) Communications contingency plans for organizations, including disaster preparedness, crisis communications, and risk communications; 3) Intra-organizational communications plans to link geographically dispersed functions, open new branches and activities, and conduct internal education programs; and 4) Competitive analyses of other organizations and missions, new service development, and implementation plans. All projects will emphasis strong program management skills, organizational and competitive research. The organizations currently under consideration for the practicum include: The Inter-American Development Bank, Save the Children, Freedom House, Exoventure, Counterpart International, Delta Risk, International Relief & Development, The Information Technology & Innovation Fund, • Center for Democracy and Technology, Intelligent Decision Partners LLC, Center for International Media Assistance, International Foundation for Electoral. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Christine Chin, director of IC, at icsis@american.edu.

Professor: Eric J. Novotny is the Senior Advisor, Democracy and Technology, at the U.S. Agency for International Development. In this position, Dr. Novotny designs and manages a large portfolio of programs that use advanced information and communication technologies (ICTs) to stimulate economic growth, improve democratic processes, and reform governance policies in developing countries.

13) Supporting Youth Practitioners/Enhancing The Role of Youth in Development

Various international organizations are devising ways of strengthening young people’s capabilities and expanding their opportunities in the development of their communities. In this practicum students will be supporting either/both of the following Washington-based organizations, Education Development Center (EDC) and InterAction/Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD), in their youth focused projects. EDC is an international non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing youth earning, learning, and skill development opportunities. InterAction/Alliance for International Youth Development (AIYD) is a community of practice and advocacy platform of 24 leading U.S.-based youth and community development organizations. The Youth Alliance promotes the sharing of effective practices on youth programming and builds coalitions to advocate for and inform policies that support and impact youth worldwide. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Vidya Samarasinghe, director of ID, at svidy @american.edu.

Professor: SIS Professor Loubna Skalli Hanna teaches in the International Development Program. She has taught graduates courses on Children and Youth in Development since 2003 and is coordinator of the Children/Youth MA concentration. She has served as a reviewer of several multi-million USD grant proposals targeting youth in developing countries, conducted extensive research on youth in the Middle East and North African and published widely on the subject.

14) US Food/Farm Bill Reform: Agricultural Policy for Social and Ecological Resilience

The practicum partners, Rural Coalition and National Family Farm Coalition, are advocacy organizations that help local communities utilize, improve, and implement federal food and agriculture policy, to secure sustained and equitable development in rural communities. Ongoing and contentious debate around renewal of the Farm Bill has raised questions about which existing or potential programs affecting rural communities will be funded. The practicum team will evaluate policy options identified by the partner organizations, with particular attention to principles of food sovereignty and equity. Students will identify, evaluate, and compare agricultural policy options to determine which government-supported initiatives have been or could be most effective in cultivating equitable and sustainable agriculture, at home and abroad. For more information on the practicum, contact Dr. Ken Conca, director of GEP, at conca@american.edu.

Professor: Victoria Kiechel, AIA and LEED AP O+M, ID+C, is a practicing architect and native Washingtonian, whose teaching focuses on real-world, local projects in sustainable design. She works for the Cadmus Group, Inc., an environmental consultancy where she conducts research for the Appalachian Regional Commission and provides sustainability consulting for the Smithsonian Institution and other organizations seeking LEED certification. She worked for the U.S. Green Building Council on LEED v.3, and advises the U.S. EPA’s ENERGY STAR commercial and industrial branch