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Upcoming Skills Institutes

Upcoming - Spring 2018

For a list of all Skills Institutes offered in Spring 2018 - please 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!



On-Campus Options

SIS 730-001 – Crowdfunding

Instructor: Tuomi, K.
Dates: January 26-28, 2018

Crowdfunding is a potentially groundbreaking way of financing and promoting ideas. Moreover, new forms, platforms and laws are being developed all the time. This skills institute covers the following topics: an overview of the crowdfunding world; a comparison of the different types of crowdfunding and the types of projects that each supports; a comparison of the main US platforms; as well as some of the niche ones (DC's equity eats, etc); the practical steps to a successful fundraising campaign; the tools to be a wise investor; and an analysis of what to do after a campaign either in the event of failure/success.  

SIS 730-002 – Policy Briefing

Instructor: Schmall, C.
Dates: January 27-28, 2018

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 730-003 – Contemporary Public Diplomacy: Changes and Challenges

Instructor: Weil, L.
Dates: January 28 and February 4, 2018

Contemporary U.S. public diplomacy is done in an ever-increasing variety of ways, including interaction between students, entertainers, educators and activists. Public diplomacy professionals today need to be digitally literate as well as sensitive to how social media are used differently from country to country. They must be prepared to stay on top of emerging trends and meet the shifting priorities of national security. This course combines recent readings on public diplomacy topics, discussion of a variety of U.S. public diplomacy programs in the public and private sectors, and practical exercises to help students manage the changing landscape of contemporary public diplomacy. Students learn about the latest issues and how they affect the field, delve into the main challenges faced in carrying out public diplomacy programs and build a toolkit for managing today's challenges.

SIS 730-004 – Developing a Successful Career Path

Instructor: Ladek, S.
Dates: February 2-4, 2018

This practical course focuses on two major skills that are essential for every professional path and in every sector: how to build a system for attracting and acquiring new work and opportunities; and how to deliver high value for current work. The course demystifies what it takes to make it, whether as a thought leader at a think tank, helping those in need at an NGO, in the private sector, government, or creating a company. Students gain a blueprint for how to create success for themselves, their group, or their organization. 


SIS 730-006 – Real World Strategic Planning

Instructor: Meade, E.
Dates: February 2-4, 2018

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 project. 


SIS 730-018 – Program Design, Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning

Instructor: Gray, J.
Dates: February 16-18, 2018

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 730-007 – Personal Transformation for Peacebuilding Practice

Instructor: Cromwell, A.
Dates: February 17-18, 2018

This course examines the role of the peacemaker in conflict resolution and transformation processes. A foundational assumption for the course is that to become effective conflict transformation practitioners, first developing constructive ways for dealing with conflict in their own lives is needed. To this end, students develop concrete skills for resolving intrapersonal and interpersonal conflicts with an eye on how these abilities can improve their future work in international conflict. Students learn frameworks for analyzing their role in the conflicts that they experience and develop skills in meditation, managing emotions, listening, asserting ones needs in difficult conversations, and third-party intervention tactics. 

SIS 730-008 – Accounting for Development Practitioners

Instructor: Robilliard, M.
Dates: February 23-25, 2018

This course looks at the principles of accounting, finance, and business and their application to the development environment. Using the graphical Color Accounting learning system, the course establishes a logical and linguistic foundation for accounting. With a solid reporting framework in place, case studies of real business situations are examined. Students learn to use balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements to analyze the performance of reporting entities. The challenges of financial management and control are explored, along with practices for auditing and mitigating those challenges. The key issues of generally-accepted accounting practice are covered, along with abuses thereof so that the students can test the veracity of information they receive.

SIS 730-009 – Adaptive Management Learning

Instructors: Roberts, C. and Bazaz Smith, K.
Dates: February 24-25, 2018

This course focuses on improving the way international development and other social impact projects are delivered, focusing on results and inclusion. Students explore the trends that are shaping international development, program design, and implementation. In the course, students gain knowledge about concepts of adaptive management, continuous learning, and feedback loops; develop an understanding of when, why, and how the concepts above should be incorporated into new or existing projects; and become proficient at applying a variety of tools and processes to support this work. 

SIS 730-010 – Building Resilience

Instructor: Gibbs, K.
Dates: March 2-4, 2018

This course provides students with practical strategies for developing resilience when working in high-threat environments, such as humanitarian, aid, or diplomatic work. Students look at the neurobiological effect of stress on human physiology; explore how to enhance their stress and self-management skills; and learn new practical methods to improve their ability to mitigate stress. Students can put these skills to use during their continued education to improve performance and interactions, establish their own sustainability habits, create a resilient base for their careers, and bring an intrapreneurial mindset to the organizations they join. 

SIS 730-011 – Art and Post-War Healing

Instructor: Gregorian, H.
Dates: March 3-4, 2018

The humanities are a rich, if an inexplicably muted color in the peacebuilding palette. Revealing a traumatic experience induces feelings of shame as well as a threat to self-survival. This course examines forms of self-expression that can help to restore self-stability and proceeds on the assumption that individual healing is one good path to community recovery and resilience. Students are exposed to various arts-based healing techniques and learn about the current practices in the use of the arts for post-conflict healing, as well as the effects of traumatic events on the body and mind and strategies for practitioner self-care. 

SIS 730-012 – Applied Strategic Communications in International Work

Instructor: Trestor, A.
Dates: March 24-25, 2018

Whether seeking funding through a grant application, convincing a government agency about the need for an intervention or program, or advocating about a social issue to the public, professionals depend on their ability to use language persuasively to effectively convey "why this matters." In this course, students focus on developing a statement of purpose for an organization, issue, program, or cause of their choosing. They are introduced to the analysis of features of language including framing, positioning, and reference, exploring how these work in constructing narratives. Students bring in examples, and work with a framework to create their own language which can be used in verbal or written introductions or "About Us" sections of organizational websites and have the opportunity to deliver these orally, and following a rubric, give and receive feedback about their effectiveness. 

SIS 730-013 – Data Analytics for Financial Inclusion

Instructor: Menajovsky, J.
Dates: April 6-8, 2018

This course focuses on the development of skills to analyze data and support decision making in financial inclusion programs using statistical software. Students are exposed to basic statistical concepts and applications through hands-on exercises on real data from a country representative survey that targets users and non-users of digital financial services in Kenya. Additionally, students are exposed to socio-economic and poverty indicators that are widely used by global NGOs, microfinance institutions, social businesses and the multilateral development banks (MDBs). 

SIS 730-014 – Smartphone Media Production

Instructor: Engel, L.
Dates: April 7-8, 2018

This course helps students self-document events, research, fieldwork, and other real-world encounters using nothing more than their smartphone. Students learn how to make best use of the tools they already have to preserve key audio and visual information, and how to turn that information into a compelling story for their project. The course discusses the basics of visual storytelling in photography and video, skill sets in creating compelling images and scenes, and the basics of editing. Students also add hardware and software to their smartphone and learn to work with small camcorders. Students need a fully-charged smartphone and a laptop, and are encouraged to also bring other cameras.  

SIS 730-TBD – Analytic Writing

Instructor: Armstrong, F.
Dates: April 13-15, 2018

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 730-016 – International Education Program Evaluation

Instructor: Helms, R.
Dates: April 13-15, 2018

International education professionals appreciate hearing "studying abroad changed my life." However, as the international education field has matured, the need to understand outcomes and impact in more concrete terms has been recognized. Designed for program managers and other practitioners in the field, this course provides an overview of program evaluation, including qualitative and quantitative methodologies, project types and rationales, and reporting strategies. Students review case examples and design an evaluation plan for a sample program.  

SIS 730-017 – Green Recovery and Reconciliation Training

Instructor: Kelly, C.
Dates: April 21-22, 2018

 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.

SIS 730-005 – Understanding the Military

Instructors: Barno, D. and Benashel, N.
Dates: April 21-22, 2018

What could be called "A Field Guide to Silver Eagles and Trained SEALs," this course is designed to familiarize students with the structure, processes, jargon and culture of the US Defense Department and the different Services (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines). The objective is that students will leave the course better able to work with military personnel in their future assignments, whether as government employees, academics, policy analysts, or representatives of NGOs or IOs. The course methodology focuses on lecture and discussion, with outside video and guest speakers to expand on concepts. In addition to assigned readings and classroom participation, each student writes and presents a short analysis of an outside work that illustrates the ideas covered in the course. 



Off-Campus Options

SIS 730-TBD – Introductory Problem Solving Workshop

Instructor: Gamaghelyan, P.
Dates: March 3-4, 2018

Introduces students to the basics of problem solving workshops and the skills involved in conducting them. Offers adaptations of the classical model to consider inclusive approaches, non-binary conflicts, catalytic workshops, etc. Course will be held at the Point of View Conference and Retreat Center (7301 Old Spring Drive, Lorton VA 22079) Note: Ride shares will be organized in advance. Non-SIS students can enroll with permission of instructor.

SIS 730-TBD – Advanced Problem Solving Workshop

Instructor: Eralp, D.
Dates: April 7-8, 2018

Further exploration of problem solving dialoques and workshops, introducing topics such as cross-cultural difficulties, the technique of reframing issues, and the opportunities for creativity in the process. Course will be held at the Point of View Conference and Retreat Center (7301 Old Spring Drive, Lorton VA 22079) Note: Ride shares will be organized in advance. This section is only open to those that have taken the introductory course.