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Current Skills Institutes

Current Skills Institutes 

For a PDF of all Skills Institutes being offered in Fall 2017 - click here. 

Skills Institutes vary in meeting times and location, please confirm course details on the schedule of classes!

Also, there are no waitlists for Skills Institutes – be sure to register before the end of the Add/Drop period to reserve your spot and to check enrollment often to see if a spot opens up!


Fall 2017

For a list of all Skills Institutes offered in Fall 2017 - please click here .

SIS 730-001: Program Design, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Instructor: Courtney Roberts

September 15-17, 2017

This course introduces methods and skills used in evaluating international development programs with a focus on planning and design. The course introduces students to the evaluation process and various evaluation designs, as well as methods for data collection and analysis. The course has a practical focus as it prepares students for performing work funded by international organizations, bilateral aid agencies, philanthropic foundations, or other global development donors. Students develop a broad understanding of program evaluation and how to apply tools and templates to monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) activities. The primary skills include how to develop a theory of change, a results framework, and learning plan; how to differentiate among the many approaches to evaluation, such as performance, impact, developmental, utilization-focused, etc., and develop an understanding regarding when and how each should be used; the ability to use information and communications technology (ICT) tools for surveys; and an understanding of approaches required to communicate results in an accessible manner.

SIS 730-002: Strategic Analytic Techniques

Instructor: Roy Sullivan
September 15-17, 2017

This workshop introduces students to multiple qualitative structured analytic tools and techniques they can use to structure their analysis, generate forecasts, and avoid major mistakes. In numerous hands-on exercises, students practice specific skills to help them overcome mindsets, organize information, diagnose problems, explore different ways of thinking, and avoid surprise. Concepts introduced include analytic traps and mindsets; why we are so quick to fall into mindsets and why they so hard to overcome; the value of structured analytic techniques; and how best to apply these tools and techniques to problems encountered every day.

SIS 730-016: Analytic Writing

Instructor: Fulton Armstrong
September 22-24, 2017

This course introduces students to analytic writing as it is used in intelligence, policy, and nonprofit work. Policy-focused careers in Washington, DC often require familiarity with concise, direct, and terse prose that puts the bottom line up front. Through a series of conversations and exercises, students learn to present their ideas in a writing style recognized by the policy community.

SIS 730-003: Mediating History

Instructor: Philip Gamaghelyan
September 23-25, 2017

Competing interpretations of history play a central role in many inter-state and intra-state conflicts today. Conflict resolution practitioners, however, do not always possess the skills necessary for addressing history directly and constructively. Drawing upon recent studies in collective memory, critical historiography and discourse analysis, as well as the extensive experience of working with historical narratives in conflict settings, the course introduces the participants to practical methods that help transform the role of history from one that perpetuates conflict into one that helps resolve it through building better understanding of the conflict dynamics, mutual identity needs and alternative ways forward.

SIS 730-004: Expeditionary Civil-Military Interactions

Instructors: Anthony Wanis-St.John and Jesse Pruett
September 30-October 1, 2017

Civilians and military from multiple countries, alliances and regional organizations, and NGOs often work alongside each other in peace and stability operations as well as other complex emergencies. Sometimes this interaction is smooth, although it also poses challenges in terms of organizational cultural, goals, work styles, mandates, constraints, and language. The academic field of civil-military relations offers little to help practitioners navigate their differences in field environments. The possibilities and problems go in both directions, as both civilians and military benefit from a better understanding of how to coordinate, negotiate, and work with each other in expeditionary environments.

SIS 730-005: Designing Intercultural Training Programs

Instructor: Maria Morukian
October 7-8, 2017

This hands-on course focuses on the design of intercultural programs to enhance and develop intercultural understanding, communication, and competence. Students develop and critique training program materials and curricula for practical application in such settings as schools, business, government, non-profits, and in international contexts. Emphasis is placed on programs for multicultural as well as substantially mono-cultural contexts. In addition to interpersonal and intercultural skills, and the development of training materials, the course briefly touches on evaluation as integral components of effective program design.

SIS 730-007: Policy Briefing

Instructor: Craig Schmall
October 14-15, 2017

This course gives students the tools and confidence to handle a briefing at any level in the policy world with a combination of presentations and group discussion on the art of proper preparation, real-life examples of policy briefings, and challenging practical exercises. Students learn how to develop and present a relevant, tailored, and effective briefing by crafting the briefing to account for the policymaker's level of knowledge, biases, and needs; understanding an issue's place in the policy process and how that impacts the presentation; utilizing graphics to make the complex easy to understand; writing talking points to guide the briefing; being flexible; and dealing with demanding or hostile audiences.

SIS 730-017: Impact Investing

Instructor: Melissa Brady
October 13-15, 2017

This course covers the core principles involved with investing for societal as well as economic impact. Intended for students interested in pursuing careers in social finance, philanthropy/nonprofit, investment management, or responsible banking, the course provides an overview of the impact investment market as well as the practical application of the core principles of the sector. Students explore the due diligence and deal structuring required for investing in social enterprises, what is involved in developing an investment portfolio for an organization or a fund, and the basic investment decisions behind it.

SIS 730-014: Gender Analysis and Development

Instructor: Pat Morris
October 21-22, 2017

This course explores the concept of gender and its practical application to international development programs and policy. It covers a variety of analytical and planning tools as well as frameworks and methodologies developed and used by gender practitioners and activists worldwide. Course participants review gender concepts, gender analysis frameworks, gender analysis tools and strategies for gender mainstreaming and gender integration in international relief and development programs. This interactive skills institute focuses on applying gender analysis tools in program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.

SIS 730-020: Nonviolent Action

Instructor: D. Cambridge
*NEW DATES - October 21-22, 2017

This participatory skills-based course provides a multi-disciplinary perspective on nonviolent, civilian-based movements and campaigns that defend and obtain basic rights and justice around the world, from Zimbabwe to West Papua, Mexico to China, and throughout the Middle East-North Africa region. Students define civil resistance; debate the role of civil resistance in generating political, social, and economic change; identify and apply strategic principles that help civil resistance movements succeed; analyze conflicts from an nonviolent conflict perspective; and experiment with different theories of power, violence, and nonviolence, and also learn about nonviolent civil resistance movements throughout history.

SIS 730-009: Real World Strategic Planning

Instructor: Eric Meade
October 27-29, 2017

This course prepares students to work with organizations in need of strategic planning. The course gives students basic tools to help organizations find their way. Students learn to detect mission drift, map their ecosystem, construct a theory of change, diagnose sustainability, and more. These key skills are applicable to government entities and NGOs, to large and small organizations. The course is taught via case studies and simulations based on actual recent strategic planning projects.

SIS 730-010: Development & Fundraising: Peace NGOs

Instructor: Michael Braeuninger
October 28-29, 2017

Students learn the fundamentals of development and fundraising for non-profits, with a focus on peacebuilding NGOs. Topics include: assessing development and fundraising needs; strategic development; board engagement; donor engagement; fundraising tools; and grant searching and grant writing. Teaching methods include lecture and case studies.

SIS 730-011: Budgeting for Development

Instructors: Kristi Ragan and Nick Brown
November 3-5, 2017

A basic understanding of how the U.S. government's budget is managed through the allocation of foreign aid to address international development challenges such as literacy, maternal and child health, good governance, clean water, and food security, is needed to understand how international development works. At a more practical level, an understanding of how to build, manage, and report on a budget is required to work on any development project. In this course students learn the overall framework for how funding is allocated to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), how priorities are set, and how funds make their way to the USAID Mission managing resources at the country level. The course follows the program process within USAID as a guide to understanding how the budget flows down to individual projects and how NGO and for profit implementers use budgets to deliver assistance on the ground. Students learn the fundamentals of how to construct a budget and budget monitoring methodologies, as well as getting hands-on experience in basic budget forecasting and standard budget reporting.

SIS 730-013: Business-NGO Partnership Building

Instructors: Ailene Gelbard and Krista Hendry
November 10-12, 2017

Provides the skills and knowledge to build successful cross-sector partnerships between businesses and NGOs based on practical experience. Covers skills that can be applied to all stages of this process from networking, building relationships and trust, to writing an MOU, implementing a partnership, and measuring outcomes.

SIS 730-019: Media Relations in Conflict Zones

Instructor: Stefo Lehmann
* NEW DATES - November 11-12, 2017

Students learn to develop productive media relationships and understand the role of public affairs during overseas humanitarian, reconstruction, and peace-building interventions. Students also learn how to recognize a communication crisis and prepare for crisis and reputation management. The course also covers management of press conferences from planning to execution, delivering effective responses, and methods to ensure mutually beneficial exchanges of information between organizations and the media.


SIS 730-309: Science Fiction, Science Fact

Instructor: C. Williams

November 5 and 18 (1-5pm EST) and 19 (1-5:30pm EST), 2017

This institute introduces students to science literacy essential for those making decisions inside think tanks, government, NGOs, IGOs, media and diplomacy. The class explores how the social contract evolved between science and society, what is meant by the best available scientific knowledge, and acceptable scientific literacy norms. Students are asked to spot false findings, fake sources and pure fiction while learning to speak and write science literacy with confidence.

Students must register for this course by completing the registration action form located here: and submitting it to no later than Monday, October 30, 2017. Student cannot register online for this course. Students who register will be contacted on Monday, October 30 regarding technology training and credentials for the 2IR platform.


These courses have been cancelled for Fall 2017 due to low-enrollment. We plan to offer them soon - if you would like more information, please contact Abby Evans, Skills Institute Program Coordinator, at

SIS 730-012: Fundraising

Instructor: Beth Grupp
November 4 and 11, 2017

In the world of non-profits, NGOs, and academia, fundraising is an essential skill that impacts virtually every single project, idea, or organizational initiative. This course provides students with a donor-mapping model for strategic fundraising with a particular emphasis on grant writing. The course explores all aspects of grant writing and has a heavy experiential component where students are able to run their own foundation. Real world examples of grants and grant requirements are explored within the larger context of assessing fundraising programs overall.

SIS 730-015: Green Recovery and Reconstruction

November 4-5, 2017

In the wake of natural or man-made disasters, governments and disaster-response agencies are under considerable pressure to assist communities to rebuild rapidly and promote economic recovery. In these circumstances, recovery and rehabilitation projects often result in environmental damage, unsustainable practices, and resulting harm to disaster survivors. This course trains students in use of the Green Recovery and Reconstruction Toolkit (GRRT), developed by the World Wildlife Fund and American Red Cross to facilitate recovery planning and project design that promote for sustainable, resilient communities. The course examines the need for a more environmentally sound recovery process, describes the elements of the GRRT, focuses on how sections of the GRRT can be used in project design, implementation and monitoring and reviews practical ways the GRRT can be used to improve project impacts, outcomes and conditions for disaster survivors.