Upcoming Practica

The following courses will be offered as Practica in the 2023-2024 academic year. For reference, courses from previous semesters are also listed.

On-campus Practica

The following Practica are available to all graduate students, including online program (MAIR/MIS) students that can attend weekly on-campus classes.

A Wicked Challenge to US National Security

Professor: Sally Shelton-Colby

Course Time: To be determined

Students in this practicum study a country of strategic interest to the United States and develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Government. Specifically, the practicum addresses challenges with governance, the government's role in international conflicts, fractious relationships within the country and in the international community.

Conflict Mitigation and Peacebuilding

Professor: Hrach Gregorian

Course Time: To be determined

This practicum is designed to increase familiarity with current practice in contemporary conflict prevention, mitigation, and settlement. Topics recently covered include conflict minerals, women’s empowerment, youth violence prevention, and peace gaming. Hands-on activities emphasize such skills as narrative analysis, conflict prevention training, monitoring and evaluation, and conflict mapping.

Food as Soft Power

Professor: Johanna Mendelson-Forman

Course Time: To be determined

  • Food as a tool of soft power has grown, especially with a focus on citizen food diplomacy. The U.S. Department of State has been active in promoting this aspect of our foreign engagement through programs such as the Chef Corps and more recently through the expansion of the Arts Envoy program to include food as a tool for social change. This practicum will work with thought leader and practitioners at the Bureau for Education and Cultural Affairs, helping them to evaluate their food-related programming with a goal of creating a report that explores what programs have been most effective in criteria that will be established in collaboration with program officers. Students will work closely with State Department cultural affairs expert, helping to interview chef-participants, and NGOs that were beneficiaries of these programs. Through this engagement they will gain a better understanding about State Department programs and moreover, about soft power. They will also meet with the program’s partners like the James Beard Foundation, Meridian International, and foreign embassies to better understand how food programs support the wider goals of U.S. policy and food security.

Human Rights and Political Violence

Professor: Jeff Bachman

Course Time: To be determined

Students in this practicum will conduct research into alleged human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law. Particular topics may include counterterrorism; armed conflict; genocide; humanitarian intervention; and more.

Intelligence and Analysis

Professor: Aki Peritz

Course Time: To be determined

The class produces a report intended to serve the intelligence, policy, defense, and diplomatic communities. US national security priorities shift rapidly, and topics will be determined with the client organization.

Summer 2023 practica will be offered mostly online or online with associated travel. Summer 2023 practica with a traveling component have additional associated costs beyond tuition and travel is subject to the eveolving Covid-19 situation.

Demanding Challenges Confronting US Foreign Policy

Professor: Earl Anthony Wayne

Course Time: Tuesday, 5:30-8pm EST

Modality: On-Campus

Students in this practicum will conduct research into alleged human rights violations and violations of international humanitarian law. Particular topics may include counterterrorism; armed conflict; genocide; humanitarian intervention; and more. 

Building Training and Educational Focused Opportunities

Professor: David Smith

Course Time: Tuesdays 5:30-8pm EST

This course will focus on the role that training and education play in advancing peacebuilding and conflict resolution outcomes. Students will learn about how formal training and education builds skills, aptitudes, and knowledge in the field. They will work with practitioner groups and NGOs to develop training and educational curricula that meet the needs of various constituencies. In the process, students will learn to deliver and assess programs that benefit organizational goals.

 

Conflict Mitigation and Peacebuilding

Professor: Hrach Gregorian

Course Time: Wednesdays 5:30-8pm EST

This practicum is designed to increase familiarity with current practice in contemporary conflict prevention, mitigation, and settlement. Topics recently covered include conflict minerals, women's empowerment, youth violence prevention, and peace gaming. Hands-on activities emphasize such skills as narrative analysis, conflict prevention training, monitoring and evaluation, and conflict mapping. Practicum clients include NGOs such as Partners Global, Search for Common Ground, Saferworld, and Resolve; for-profit organizations such as Creative Associates; and government agencies such as the US Department of State.

 

Cultivating Intercultural Competence, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion into the Organization

Professor: Maria Morukian

Course Time: Fridays 5:30-8:00pm EST

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. 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 to build diverse, equitable, and inclusive organizations.

Through this practicum, students will have opportunities to consult with an organization seeking to implement culture change to accommodate the needs and expectations of an increasingly diverse workforce, customer base, and/or 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 competent 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.

 

Cybersecurity Policy in Action

Professor: Trey Herr

Course Time: Tuesdays 5:30-8:00pm EST

Students will work in groups to address a cybersecurity challenge with strategic importance to the United States. Each group will develop a report with recommendations for a U.S. government client to address this challenge. The nature of cybersecurity is such that challenges emerge and change, along with the needs of policymakers, so specific topics will be determined with the Professor and client organization each semester.

 

Democracy, Rule of Law, Human Rights, and Foreign Policy

Professor: Matthew Boyse

Course Time: Fridays 5:30-8:00pm EST

Students in this Practicum examine rankings developed by the most important U.S. and European NGOs that assess the state of rule of law, democracy, and human rights globally. The Practicum exposes students to these concepts as applied to a world region in order to recommend how the State Department should factor them into policy. The class focuses on developing real world skills in policy analysis and writing for policy in producing a report for a senior State Department official.    

 

Globalization and the Impact of Corporate Activities on Environmental and Social Rights

Professor: Charles Di Leva

Course Time: Wednesdays 2:30-5:00pm EST

In this practicum students will analyze issues of transnational environmental and social rights through the lens of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the "Ruggie Principles" (the protect, respect and remedy framework). Students will apply these principles to explore topics such as the State’s duty to ensure businesses takes steps to protect human rights and prevent human rights abuses, the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and the need to help victims achieve remedy. Through their research students will propose how States and busineses can to put theory into practice. They will propose how States and businesss and civil society can contribute to effectively deliver on policy, procedure and standards and other mechanisms—including dialogue—that can come into play for countries and companies to effectively integrate business and human rights considerations/human rights responsibilities in the business marketplace with a focus on responsible growth. 

 

Human Rights Due Diligence in the Seafood Industry

Professor: Judy Gearhart

Course Time: Fridays 5:30-8:00pm EST

In this practicum, students will engage in policy debates around the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and their application in the seafood industry. Students will research and analyze emerging laws for mandatory human rights due diligence and methodologies for supply chain due diligence and reporting. Course deliverables will assist funders and practitioners in developing policies and recommendations that address human rights abuse in seafood supply chains and the illegal, unregulated, and unreported fishing often correlated with that abuse.

 

Intelligence and Analysis

Professor: Aki Peritz

Course Time: Mondays 5:30-8pm EST

The class produces a report intended to serve the intelligence, policy, defense, and diplomatic communities. US national security priorities shift rapidly, and topics will be determined with the client organization.

 

Leveraging Civil-Military Engagement

Professor: Jesse Pruett

Course Time: Wednesdays 8:20-10:50pm EST

The US government recognizes the importance of maintaining positive bi- and multi-lateral relationships with African nations and peoples. As other external actors seek to undermine these relationships, an already complex environment becomes increasingly challenging. For US Military units and personnel who will undertake missions in this environment, it is critical to understand not simply the obvious, primary actors at play, but also the roles and impacts of the full spectrum of stakeholders and influencers involved, whether they represent the international community, governments, civil society, industry, academia, or other groups. Practicum participants will explore these stakeholder relationships and consider the challenges and opportunities they present in the context of US Civil-Military efforts in the region. Participants can be expected to produce an assessment based on further client guidance and provide recommendations for a US Army Civil Affairs element with regional responsibilities.

 

Peace and Security in the Middle East and Africa

Professor: Jared Pentz

Course Time: Tuesdays 8:20-10:50pm EST

This practicum will focus on the intertwining of security and political issues in intrastate conflict, regional, and post-conflict settings where peace is elusive, especially in Africa and the Middle East. Modern day civil war is exacerbated by many factors including state fragility, multiple parties, internationalization, and regional instability. In line with the needs of the client, we may examine the role of non-state armed actors, state institutions, or local governance on the longevity or negotiation of peace agreements. Students will develop recommendations based on their deliverables, which may include reports, needs assessments, program development, monitoring and evaluation, and best practices. Clients under consideration include US government entities, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations.

 

Planning for Conflict and Climate Migrants

Professor: Victoria Kiechel

Course Time: Thursdays 5:30-8:00pm EST

Issues surrounding global human migration are among the most wicked of wicked problems.  As such, they require integrating methods and perspectives from many disciplines in order to address questions of human rights, resource access and sustainability, climate change impacts, peacebuilding and security, and more.  Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this practicum will engage in research and the proposed recommendations for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) on topics and geographies of their choosing.  In previous years, the practicum has focused our work for IOM on Chad, Nigeria, and Costa Rica; our diverse focuses have included circular (labor) migration, food insecurity and changing migration patterns, vulnerability to trafficking, potential means and methods of community stabilization, and increasing the agency of migrants.  

 

Social Innovation Practicum

Professor: Nancy Sachs

Course Time: Wednesdays 5:30-8:00pm EST

This practicum is for students intrigued by a problem in society who want to develop a solution such as a deliverable for a nonprofit organization, a business plan for a social enterprise, or an app that delivers an essential social service. A central requirement is a willingness to listen and to work with those affected by that issue to understand how they perceive the problem and possible solutions.

Online Practica

Priority for online programs Practica admission is given to students in online programs (MAIR/MIS), but other graduate students are also welcome to apply!

Alternative Strategies: Maintaining NATO’s Competitive Advantage

Professor: Stephen Mariano

Course Time: Thursdays, 6:20-8:50pm EST

In the summer of 2022 at the Madrid Summit, NATO unveiled a new Strategic Concept to address contemporary and future threats to the Alliance's security. This practicum will explore the new strategic concept and provide the client with alternative strategies for NATO to maintain its competitive advantage over adversaries and competitors. The course will start with a brief introduction to NATO, innovation, and the elements of strategic logic; it will analyze the new strategic concept and (based on client requests and guidance), break into teams that research alternative strategies for implementing aspects of the concept. The client for this practicum has typically come from the NATO Headquarters, for example a Deputy Assistant Secretary General or NATO’s Chief Scientist but may include other members of the International or International Military Staff.  

Youth Development: Empowering Young Changemakers

Professor: Nick Boedicker

Course Time: Mondays, 6:20-8:50pm EST

Around the world, young people are leading positive social change in powerful ways. Increasingly, organizations are stepping in to support their efforts and to empower more young changemakers to take action on local and global issues. In this practicum, students will improve their ability to empower youth to create impact through working directly with young changemakers at both the beginning and advanced stages of their journeys. Students will also learn and put into practice a set of key consulting skills to support their clients, youth-led social ventures. Examples of projects may include needs assessments, project/program development, impact evaluations, strategic planning, etc. 

See the travel section below for additional online courses that include travel components. Summer 2023 practica with a traveling component have additional associated costs beyond tuition and travel is subject to the eveolving Covid-19 situation.

A Wicked Challenge to US National Security

Professor: Sally Shelton-Colby

Course Time: Mondays, 5:30-8pm, May 15th through August 19th

Students in this practicum study a country of strategic interest to the United States and develop policy recommendations for the U.S. Government. Specifically, the practicum addresses challenges with governance, the government's role in international conflicts, fractious relationships within the country and in the international community. Students make policy recommendations for U.S. Department of State officials and other relevant entities and identify the pros and cons of each policy recommendation.  

Evidence-Based Approaches to Education in Emergencies

Professor: Ally Krupar

Course Time: Wednesdays 6:20-8:50pm, May 1st through August 13th.

A student-led cross-country evaluation of Save the Children’s Education in Emergencies research and programming. Core issues include mapping and gap analysis of ongoing research efforts by various Save the Children members and country offices developing, coordinating with advocacy initiatives, and developing knowledge management systems.  

 

Foreign Policy Making, Defense, and Intelligence

Professor: Claudia Hofmann

Course Time: Wednesdays 5:30-8:00pm EST

This practicum is designed to introduce students to a comprehensive approach to foreign policy making and defense. Specifically, students will gain an understanding of U.S. foreign policy making as it relates to transnational threats and regional security challenges, priorities within the National Defense Strategy, binational and multinational institutional relationships, and resulting security dilemma globally, while understanding the critical influence intelligence has on both current policy decisions and the development of future foreign policy initiatives. In this practicum, students will collect, organize, and process relevant data, client information, and external resources.

 

Growth Strategies in Social Impact Organizations

Professor: Alessandra Zielinski

Course Time: Tuesdays 6:20-8:50pm EST

Student teams will have an opportunity to serve social enterprises and nonprofit organizations working in an international context as they explore different strategies to achieve their mission and scale their programs. Issues may include defining strategy, financial scenario planning, operations and organizational effectiveness, marketing and community engagement, or challenges related to leadership and governance. Student teams will finalize a scope of work, create a workplan, build various deliverables to help further the client organization’s work, and provide recommendations to the client sponsor to increase their scale of impact.  

 

Sanctions, Terrorist Financing, and Financial Crimes

Professor: Joshua Shrager

Course Time: Wednesdays 6:20-8:50pm EST

Sanctions are central to how world powers approach foreign policy crises like North Korea and Iran, and are regularly used by governments to freeze assets of terrorists and proliferators, highlight corruption and human rights abuse, and in some cases, punish opponents. Students in this practicum will learn how illicit actors raise, store and use funds, and how governments, journalists and banks identify, trace and freeze these funds. In this practicum, students will participate in a financial war game and prepare a report on a current illicit finance topic for executives at a multinational bank or corporation. According to 2018 data, the private sector in the US spends about $25 billion annually to comply with sanctions and financial crime regulations, and executives are constantly seeking fresh insights. Well performing students will gain knowledge and experience that will improve their ability to obtain a job in national security, banking and international business or FinTECH. 

Practica Abroad

Scholarships and funding may be available for study abroad. If you are considering a Summer practica, explore your options as soon as possible.

Summer 2023 practica with a traveling component will be offered online except for the travel periods. They have additional associated costs beyond tuition and travel is subject to the evolving Covid-19 situation.

Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland: Assessing the Impact of WAVE

Professor: Hrach Gregorian

Course Time: Wednesdays, 5:30-8pm, Online

Travel: June 14-22, Northern Ireland

Travel Program Fee: $750

Widows Against Violence Empowers (WAVE) is a cross community and voluntary organization founded in 1991, in Belfast, to support people bereaved of a spouse as a result of violence in Northern Ireland. WAVE has been at the core of civil society efforts to tend to the needs of those affected by sectarian violence and to build long-term sustainable peace. Two questions animate this practicum: (1) What contribution has WAVE Trauma Centre made in giving voice to victims and survivors in Northern Ireland? and (2) How can WAVE’s years of practice be modelled by others in peacebuilding efforts around the world? Qualitative analysis will be undertaken that includes primary and secondary research, interviews with key stakeholders and policymakers, and fieldwork in Northern Ireland. Fieldwork will include site visits to Wave centers in Belfast, Armagh, Ballymoney, Omagh, and Derry/Londonderry, as well as meetings with subject matter experts at Queens University and other academic and research organizations.

Political Ecology of Water in Agro-Industrial Landscapes 

Professor: Scott Freeman

Course Time: Tuesdays, 5:30-8pm, Online

Travel: June 3-17 San Jose, Costa Rica

Travel Program Fee: $500

This practicum will build on the previous three years of work with water and agricultural activists in southwest Costa Rica. These collaborations have centered around the intersecting issues of water, organic agriculture, grassroots organizations, and the threats of the encroaching pineapple industry and export economies. This course will continue with these efforts, working with activists in the region as they work on protecting access and management of water resources. Students will use primarily qualitative research techniques to understand social and political dynamics at play in the region. Collaborating with activists, students will contribute to the ongoing efforts of protecting water resources and access. 

Qualitative research on economic empowerment and HIV prevention for youth in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Professor: Nina Yamanis

Course Time: Mondays, 5:30-8pm, Online

Travel: June 14-28, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

Travel Program Fee: $750

Students in this course will participate in an ongoing research study being conducted in informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The client is Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), the national hospital and school of public health in Tanzania. The students will help the research team evaluate an economic empowerment and HIV prevention intervention for youth. Students will travel to Tanzania to complete the fieldwork. MUHAS is partnered with American University and Professor Nina Yamanis on this research project. Each student will be paired with an experienced Tanzanian research assistant who will serve as their translator and guide during fieldwork.

Common Sense Monitoring and Evaluation for Women and Child Protection

Manila, Philippines

Students will partner with the Child Protection Network (CPN) to enrich the work of their Women and Child Protection Units through the development of user friendly monitoring and evaluation tools. Students will grapple with the chronic challenges inherent to such undertakings—identifying meaningful performance metrics and balancing rigor, usability, and time and budget constraints. Important stakeholders to consider will include the Department of Health, local government units, hospital staff and families.

Professor: Stephanie Fischer

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Participatory Program Evaluation of a Girls' Health and Livelihood Intervention

Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

Students in this course will evaluate an ongoing health promotion and livelihood training program for adolescent girls and young women living in informal settlements in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Students will travel to Tanzania to complete the fieldwork. The client is the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (MUHAS), the national hospital and school of public health.

Professor: Nina Yamanis

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Countering Cyber Threats and State-Sponsored Information Operations

Tentative Locations: Berlin, Prague, Riga and Sofia

As state-sponsored disinformation from Russia continues unabated there is greater need to coordinate state-to-state and multilateral efforts that allow for the identification of synergies and build on specializations. This project will look into the efforts of British and European states to understand Russian disinformation with a focus on how the U.S. can best work effectively with international partners. 

Professor: Eric Novotny

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The Political Ecology of Water in Costa Rica

Ciudad Colon, Costa Rica

In this practicum, students will gain experience in the practical application of political ecology as a means to study and understand environmental conflicts in southwest Costa Rica. Students will investigate water issues that revolve both around industrial agriculture and energy generation. Students will learn research skills and a political ecology framework and will produce a deliverable for water activists in the region.

Professor: Scott Freeman

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Program Evaluation in International Education Kenya

Practicum students will partner with Dignitas, an education-focused NGO working in nonformal communities in Nairobi, Kenya, to conduct a program evaluation on the organization’s new model. About to enter its 10th year of work in building the capacity of teachers and school leaders in nonformal community schools, Dignitas will be rolling out a newly refined program model designed for scale in early 2019. They are moving from working with a small group of 40 schools to expanding the organization’s impact to the education system more broadly. Students will support the organization in thinking about how to meaningfully evaluate system-wide impact, will have an opportunity to design a wide-scale impact evaluation, and along the way, will learn about the social, political and economic dimensions of educational development efforts in Nairobi.

Professor: Amanda Taylor

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Evironment and peacebuilding in the Middle east Israel and Palestine

Students will become familiar with the wider transboundary cooperation efforts of AIES, PWEG, and other organizations in the region. Team members will undertake desk-study and research design work at the beginning of the course; travel to the region to collect data in the field through participant-observation, interviews, focus groups, and/or archival work at the project sites; and produce a report that will be submitted to the partners to help them assess, improve, and further develop their activities. The collaborative report-writing phase will take place through the remainder of the Summer, when one or more public presentations will be made.

Professors: Eric Abitbol and Ken Conca

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Political Ecologies of Land Use Conflict Costa Rica

The 3-credit graduate-level practicum will examine the roots of land use conflict caused by the expansion of pineapple farming in Costa Rica. Students will gain experience in the practical application of political ecology as a means to study and understand these conflicts.

Professor: Scott Freeman

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Global Fellowship Training and Capacity Building

Thailand

Students will conduct a 10-day training for the Volunteers in Asia (VIA) Global Community Fellowship Program. Practicum students will be split into different groups, each of which will be responsible for a particular aspect of the training. The training will include the following areas: cross-cultural communication, peace and conflict resolution, and international development. Students will develop multiple sessions related to each topic. Topics may change and additional topics may also be added to the list. Roughly 10-15 fellows will take part in this training, in preparation for their post teaching English or working with a local NGO, in one of 4 countries that VIA works with in Asia.

Professor: Alex Cromwell

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