Contact Us

SPA Analytics & Management Institute 4400 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC 20016 United States

Back to top

Current Course Offerings

All courses run from 9:00 am - 4:30 pm

Summer 2019 | Fall 2019 | Spring 2020 | Summer 2020 | Fall 2020

Spring 2021

Implementing and Evaluating Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT)

Professors Elizabeth Copson and Daniel Litwok

Dates
January 23 & January 30

Description
This course offers a hands-on introduction to implementing and evaluating policy-relevant randomized controlled trials (RCT). Topics covered include logic modeling, institutional review board (IRB) approval, power analysis, site recruitment, implementing random assignment, evaluating implementation, and evaluating impacts.

Media Skills Training

Professor Betsy Fischer Martin

Dates
February 6 & February 7

Description
This course uses instruction, real-life examples, one-on-one mock interviews, and feedback to learn how to best prepare for and successfully communicate in TV, radio, and print interviews. Topics include how to conduct an effective press conference; skills to effectively convey message-points and steer interviews back to those points; how to be more comfortable and confident on-camera; how to understand the targeted audience in an interview; techniques to handle negative and unexpected questions; how to craft and deliver meaningful soundbites and how to avoid some soundbite pitfalls; understanding the different strategies and techniques to use in remote interviews vs. in-person interviews; what to expect in a TV studio and understanding TV optics; and understanding different types of media and rules of the road. Students become more comfortable in front of the camera and learn how to connect effectively with any audience. They become aware of strengths and weaknesses in their delivery and develop a course of action to address any problem areas.

Public Sector Consulting: Navigating the Terrain

Professor M. John Saad

Dates
February 20 & February 21

Description
This course is designed to provide insights into the complex world of consulting for the public sector through the experiences of career consultants on the frontlines. Using a combination of storytelling, engaging discussion, interactive demonstrations, and hands-on simulations, the course focuses on the characteristics of strong consultants, fundamental skills for a successful consulting career, helpful tools and technology, and problem-solving across the stages of client engagement. You will hear personal stories and perspectives from consulting leaders with diverse clients and career experiences advising on a wide range of topics and helping solve some of their clients’ most complex challenges. The sessions will introduce students who are new to consulting and those looking to expand their consulting know-how with tools, techniques, skills, and advice to foster consulting success.

Effective Focus Groups and Interviews

Professor Joshua Joseph

Dates
March 20 & March 27

Description
Good focus groups and interviews work a bit like good conversations--they draw us in early. Once we're engaged, we tend to share more, listen better, and benefit accordingly. This hands-on course brings the science and methods of research design together with the art of planning and facilitating meaningful conversations. Topics and related guidance include how to prioritize themes for discussion; inviting participants and tapping their interests; the value and limits of advance planning; setting helpful ground rules; ways to kick off and facilitate conversations, time management tips, and more. The course offers practice in running focus groups and interviews, including time to review and reflect on what worked, what didn't, and why.

Op-Eds That Change Minds - or Change the World

Professor Libby Nelson

Dates
April 3 & April 4

Description
Even in an era of tweetstorms and podcasts, the good old guest column remains one of the best ways to get your ideas to a broad audience. But writing a great 800-word column is harder than it looks. From pitching an idea and honing an angle to coming to terms with not writing your own headline, this course will prepare you to pitch an op-ed that pops to major publications.

Fall 2020

Principles of Geographic Information Science

Professor Meagan Snow

Dates
September 12 & September 19

Description
In this course students learn foundational skills in geographic information science (GIS) software and begin to think critically and creatively about the application of those skills. Coursework includes introductions to spatial data types and formats, coordinate systems, spatial queries and joins, geoprocessing tools, and the art and science of cartography. Students learn how to make basic maps and how to create, edit, and query spatial data, and gain an understanding of what else is possible with GIS.

Telling Stories with IPUMS Survey Data

Professor Gray Kimbrough

Dates
September 26 & October 3

Description
This course introduces students to multiple publicly available sources of survey microdata from Integrated Public Use Microdata Series (IPUMS) including the decennial census, American Community Survey, Community Population Survey, and American Time Use Survey. The course surveys the questions these datasets can be used to answer, as well as the issues researchers encounter in analysis with microdata. Students gain experience performing their own analyses to tell stories about population dynamics, economic behavior, and time use.

How to Lobby Congressional Staff 

Professor Douglas Steiger

Dates
October 17 & October 24

Description
Most of the time, people who advocate to Congress meet with staff of the members of Congress, not the elected officials themselves. This course provides insight to help students be effective lobbyists of staff, no matter what issues matter to them, including an opportunity to practice making a presentation.

How to Manage a Nonprofit in a Time of Crisis

Professors: Lewis Faulk and Erin Fuller

Dates
October 25 & November 1

Description
In this course, students will learn frameworks for managing nonprofit organizations through times of crisis. The course will focus on exploring cases of real organizations, the anticipated and unanticipated problems they face in times of crisis, and tools to help the organization survive, adapt, and maximize mission-related impact while adjusting to changing realities in their work. Students will gain hands-on experience with these tools, interact with guest lecturers who are leading organizations through crisis, and learn to apply tools from the course in different real-world scenarios across diverse organizations and settings.

Building a Harassment-Free Workplace and Complying with Discrimination Law

Professor Mark Maxin

Dates
October 31 & November 1

Description
This course addresses the fundamentals of harassment law and explores the legal definitions of hostile environment harassment, the meaning of quid pro quo, and liability issues in harassment cases as described by the Supreme Court. Students discuss various types of harassment from comments, jokes, touching, e-mails, and social media and not only sexual harassment but other various forms of harassment involving race, national origin, or religion. The course also reviews actual policies and procedures that can be implemented to encourage the reporting of harassment and create a zero tolerance for harassment in the workplace and society including a 2016 study of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) on harassment in the workplace. Students gain an understanding what the law means, as well as what they can do to reduce harassment in the workplace.

Core Principles of Data Visualization 

Professor Jonathan Schwabish

Dates
November 7 & November 8

Description
This course provides a well-rounded introduction to the field of data visualization and presentation design. It introduces students to different graphic types and purposes, provides instruction on creating and giving more effective presentations, and teaches students to maximize the impact and transmission of information and research results via effective data visualizations.

Summer 2020

How to Start a Nonprofit

Professor Lewis Faulk

Dates
May 16 & May 17

Description
This course is structured as a hands-on workshop to guide students through the process of starting a nonprofit organization in the U.S. Students will learn the various organizational forms social entrepreneurs can use to pursue their missions, and they will learn the legal process on the state and federal levels to establish those organizations.  Students will learn the advantages and disadvantages of different organizational forms as well as how to manage the potential legal and strategic pitfalls that confront startup organizations.

economics of covid-19

Professor Seth Gershenson

Dates
May 30 & May 31

Description
This course discusses the economics of the COVID-19 pandemic. We'll begin by discussing the relevant economic principles that explain and motivate individual and government behavior during the pandemic. Then we'll analyze the (likely) impacts of the pandemic and associated policy responses on the labor market, financial markets, inequality, and education. In doing so, we'll also review the economic policy responses themselves.

How to Conduct Text Analysis using R

Professor Andrew Ballard

Dates
June 6 & June 7

Description
We will use the open-source statistical software R to gain a grounding in applications of textual analysis for public policy and the broader social sciences. Using examples from social media platforms (e.g., Twitter and Facebook), we will learn how to obtain a wealth of text data from application programming interfaces (APIs) and web scraping, clean the data, and analyze it. Methods of analysis will include commonly employed machine learning models, such as topic models (e.g. Latent Dirichlet Allocation) and vector embedding models (e.g. word2vec).

Media Skills Training

Professor Betsy Fischer Martin

Dates
June 13 & 27

Description
This course uses instruction, real-life examples, one-on-one mock interviews, and feedback to learn how to best prepare for and successfully communicate in TV, radio, and print interviews. Topics include how to conduct an effective press conference; skills to effectively convey message-points and steer interviews back to those points; how to be more comfortable and confident on-camera; how to understand the targeted audience in an interview; techniques to handle negative and unexpected questions; how to craft and deliver meaningful soundbites and how to avoid some soundbite pitfalls; understanding the different strategies and techniques to use in remote interviews vs. in-person interviews; what to expect in a TV studio and understanding TV optics; and understanding different types of media and rules of the road. Students become more comfortable in front of the camera and learn how to connect effectively with any audience. They become aware of strengths and weaknesses in their delivery and develop a course of action to address any problem areas.

The Public Health Response to Covid-19

Professor Nina Yamanis

Dates
June 20 & 28

Description
This course will discuss the public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic. First, students will learn the pillars of public health response to pandemics including social distancing, contact tracing, testing, communication, treatment, and research.  We will then discuss several case studies to examine different country responses to the pandemic, and the political and historical factors that motivate them.  In each context, we will consider how the pandemic affects marginalized groups and health inequities.  Finally, we will consider progress towards emerging from this global crisis, and what public health trends to expect going forward.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Lie with Statistics: A Short Course on Causal Inference

Professor Seth Gershenson

Dates
July 11 & July 12

Description
This course builds on the tools of statistical analysis and multiple linear regression introduced in PUAD 601, 605, and 602 (though only 601/605 is a firm pre-requisite for MPP/MPA students, respectively). After quickly reviewing some basics of the OLS estimator and hypothesis testing, the course proceeds by discussing the so-called “credibility revolution” in modern micro-econometrics and program evaluation. The remaining bulk of the course, then, introduces the workhorse experimental and quasi-experimental methods for estimating and identifying causal effects. Specifically, this course introduces methods for identifying and estimating causal effects from experimental and non-experimental (observational) data, of both the cross-sectional and panel (longitudinal) variety. Upon completing the course, students should feel comfortable identifying, interpreting, and implementing these methods. Pre-requisite: PUAD 601 or PUAD 605 for MPP/MPA students.

How to Identify & Write Successful Grant Proposals

Professor Cara Seitchek

Dates
July 18 & July 25

Description
Designed for beginners and those who want to hone their skills, this intensive workshop teaches how to write proposals for special projects and general support. Instruction covers how to successfully write a proposal from start to finish, including defining program goals and objectives, establishing the need, and preparing a program evaluation and proposal budget. The course introduces you to widely used resources available on the Internet and at local libraries, and you gain practical tips for researching and identifying appropriate funders, establishing a relationship, and how to use foundation tax returns.

Spring 2020

Policy Writing for a General Audience

Professor Libby Nelson

Dates
Jan. 25 & Jan. 26

Description
This course covers how to write clearly, concisely, and readably about policy and research for a broad audience of non-experts. Students learn how to write engagingly for a general audience and become familiar with different forms of communication--fact sheets, white papers, op-eds, blog posts, speeches, and "explainers" --used to communicate policy to the public.

The Power of Effective Presentations

Professor Jonathan Schwabish

Dates
Feb. 1 & Feb. 2

Description
This course instructs students on optimal presentation techniques, including design of slides and graphics, content, organization, style, and time allocation.

Implementing and Evaluating Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT)

Professor Elizabeth Copson & Professor Daniel Litwok

Dates
Feb. 22 & Feb. 29

Description
This course offers a hands-on introduction to implementing and evaluating policy-relevant randomized controlled trials (RCT). Topics covered include logic modeling, institutional review board (IRB) approval, power analysis, site recruitment, implementing random assignment, evaluating implementation, and evaluating impacts.

Effective Focus Groups and Interviews

Professor Joshua Joseph

Dates
March 21 & March 28

Description
Good focus groups and interviews work a bit like good conversations--they draw us in early. Once we're engaged, we tend to share more, listen better, and benefit accordingly. This hands-on course brings the science and methods of research design together with the art of planning and facilitating meaningful conversations. Topics and related guidance include how to prioritize themes for discussion; inviting participants and tapping their interests; the value and limits of advance planning; setting helpful ground rules; ways to kick off and facilitate conversations, time management tips, and more. The course offers practice in running focus groups and interviews, including time to review and reflect on what worked, what didn't, and why.

How to Tell Your Story

Professor Abdul El-Sayed

Dates
April 4 & April 11

Description
The choice to serve your community is one of the most important that Americans have been making since the dawn of the Republic. But the process of preparing to run for office is at best opaque, and at worst, unapproachable. In this course, students discuss some of the most important aspects of preparing to run for office, including how to find and deliver one's message, establishing a platform, political outreach, and effective fundraising. Students have the opportunity to glimpse the day-to-day of being a candidate for public office.

Fall 2019

Counterfactuals and Contemporary Research Designs

Professor Scott Cunningham

Dates
Sept. 7 & 8

Description
This course is a series of lectures on contemporary research designs in the quantitative social sciences. It will introduce the attendees to both the philosophical foundations of modern theories of causality embedded in the idea of counterfactuals using the Neyman-Rubin potential outcomes framework as well as Pearl-Wright graphical modeling. The course will then go through selection on observable methods such as regression discontinuity (and matching if time permits) as well as selection on unobservable methods such as instrumental variables, differences-in-differences and synthetic control. Attendees will be given modest amount of exposure to implementation of these methods using Stata by circulating programs and datasets which can be done either alongside the speaker during lectures or outside of the lecture series at their convenience. Upon completing the course, students should be comfortable with the potential outcomes notation as well as the graphical models sufficient to interact with contemporary scholarship, as well as have gained basic competency in implementing research designs that depend crucially on estimating counterfactuals. Pre-requisites need only be a class on multivariate regression.

Core Principles of Data Visualization

Professor Jon Schwabish, Economist at the Urban Institute

Dates
Sept. 28 & 29

Description
This course provides a well-rounded introduction to the field of data visualization and presentation design. It introduces students to different graphic types and purposes, provides instruction on creating and giving more effective presentations, and teaches students to maximize the impact and transmission of information and research results via effective data visualizations.

How to Start, Market, and Write a Blog

Professor Miriam Zoila P Pérez

Dates
Oct. 6 & 20

Description
Blogging is a form of online publishing that has transformed the media and political landscape over the last decade. It provides individuals, publications and groups with the opportunity to influence public dialogue on the issues they care about, and speak directly to their unique audiences. Many organizations, companies and political leaders are looking for employees with blogging skills. It’s a medium that requires a myriad of skills: website creation, writing, social media, marketing and strategy. This course will introduce students to all the basic skills necessary to create, design, launch, market and write an original blog. Students will be asked to create their own blog, including a number of original posts and marketing material.

Op-Eds that Change Minds - Or Change The World

Professor Libby Nelson

Dates
Oct. 12 & 26

Description
Even in an era of tweetstorms and podcasts, the good old guest column remains one of the best ways to get your ideas to a broad audience. But writing a great 800-word column is harder than it looks. From pitching an idea and honing an angle to coming to terms with not writing your own headline, this course will prepare you to pitch an op-ed that pops to major publications.

How to Lobby Congressional Staff

Professor Doug Steiger

Dates
Nov. 2 & 9

Description
Most of the time, people who advocate to Congress will meet with staff of the members of Congress, not the elected officials themselves. This course will provide insight to help one be an effective lobbyist of staff, no matter what issue matters to you, including an opportunity to practice making a presentation. It will be taught by a former Senate committee staffer with more than a decade of experience who also served as a senior lobbyist for HHS during the Obama Administration.

Consensus-Building in Practice: The Paris Climate Agreement

Professor Paul Bledsoe

Dates
Nov. 5 & 19

Description
Consensus-building is a critical skill in international diplomatic negotiations, especially those like the UN climate change negotiations predicated on gaining consensus among all nations. This course will examine how the Paris Agreement on climate change was created, with particular focus on the key role of various consensus-building efforts around key agreement features, examining how and why key elements emerged and gained support, and the roles of the US, EU, China and UN, with the explicit goal of developing student consensus-building skills.

The course will also analyze the major elements of the Agreement, including voluntary national determined emissions contributions, emissions reporting and monitoring regimes, funding for developing countries greenhouse gas mitigation and climate adaptation. The course will examine how countries are doing so far in meeting the Agreement goals, and what critical next steps must be negotiated for the Agreement to meet its goals regarding global emissions reductions and limiting global temperature increases to less than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. Finally, the course will likewise investigate how President Donald Trump’s announced intention for the US to leave the Paris Agreement has influenced the attitudes of major nations, and other US institutions, toward the agreement, as well as growing support for the Agreement and climate action from private industry and civil society.

Summer 2019

How to Start a Non-Profit

Professor Lewis Faulk, American University

Dates
May 18 & 19

Description
How to Start a Nonprofit (0/1) This course is structured as a hands-on workshop to guide students through the process of starting a nonprofit organization in the U.S. Students will learn the various organizational forms social entrepreneurs can use to pursue their missions, and they will learn the legal process on the state and federal levels to establish those organizations. Students will learn the advantages and disadvantages of different organizational forms as well as how to manage the potential legal and strategic pitfalls that confront startup organizations.

Principles of Geographic Information Science

Professor Meagan Snow

Dates
June 1 & 15

Description
Principles of Geographic Information Science (0/1) In this course, students will learn foundational skills in GIS software and begin to think critically and creatively about the application of those skills. Coursework will include introductions to spatial data types and formats, coordinate systems, spatial queries and joins, geoprocessing tools, and the art and science of cartography. By the end of the course, students will know how to make basic maps, how to create, edit, and query spatial data, and have an understanding of what else is possible with GIS, given further study.

Social Network Analysis Using R

Professor Jurgen Willems

Dates
June 8 & 9

Description
Social Network Analysis Using R (0/1) We discuss a variety of network analysis methods, and we create an insight in the various available approaches to visualize, analyze, and report network data. Topics include how to identify management and research situations in which social network analysis is relevant; how network data is collected; how to make management recommendations on network analysis output. Practical exercises will be done with the software R, R Studio, and well-known R-packages for network analysis (all freely available and extensively documented on the Internet). Using R for network analysis, will not only support the (further) development of coding and programming skills, it will also give access to a variety of sources and examples to conduct network analyses, and enable a multitude of (self-)learning opportunities, beyond this specific course. No prior knowledge of R and R-Studio is required before the course.

Causal Inference I: A Short Course

Professor Seth Gershenson, American University

Dates
June 22 & 23

Description
Causal Inference I: A Short Course (0/1) This course builds on the tools of statistical analysis and multiple linear regression introduced in PUAD 601, 605, and 602. After quickly reviewing some basics of the OLS estimator and hypothesis testing, the course proceeds by discussing the so-called “credibility revolution” in modern micro-econometrics and program evaluation. The remaining bulk of the course, then, introduces the workhorse experimental and quasi-experimental methods for estimating and identifying causal effects. Specifically, this course introduces methods for identifying and estimating causal effects from experimental and non-experimental (observational) data, of both the cross-sectional and panel (longitudinal) variety. Upon completing the course, students should feel comfortable identifying, interpreting, and implementing these methods. Prerequisite: PUAD 601 or PUAD 605 for MPP/MPA students.

How to Effectively and Successfully Manage a Project

Professor Chris Wilkins

Dates
July 13 & 27

Description
How to Effectively and Successfully Manage a Project (0/1) Project management is not reserved for professional project managers and this course is intended to offer practical approaches and skills that will assist you in successfully managing projects. Specifically, the course will cover distinguishing a project from operational work, differences in project management methodologies, importance of a project charter, defining scope, what is “progressive elaboration” and how to incorporate it into project planning, the project management Triple Constraint, project managers and communicating, and project management tools.

How to Identify & Write Successful Grant Proposals

Professor Cara Seitchek

Dates
August 3 & 10

Description
How to Identify & Write Successful Grant Proposals (0/1) Designed for beginners and those who want to hone their skills, this intensive workshop teaches how to write proposals for special projects and general support. Instruction covers how to successfully write a proposal from start to finish, including defining program goals and objectives, establishing the need, and preparing a program evaluation and proposal budget. The course introduces you to widely used resources available on the Internet and at local libraries, and you gain practical tips for researching and identifying appropriate funders, establishing a relationship, and how to use foundation tax returns.

Past Courses

  • Disability Law, Discrimination, Public Policy and Public Administration
  • Building a Harassment-Free Workplace and Complying with Discrimination Law
  • Telling Stories with IPUMS Survey Data
  • US & Canadian Health Policy & Delivery
  • Core Principles of Data Visualization
  • How to Lobby Congressional Staff
  • How to Start, Market & Write a Blog
  • Op-Eds That Change Minds - or Change the World
  • Media Skills Training
  • Policy Writing for a General Audience
  • Producing Strong Evidence of Policy and Program Impact
  • The Power of Effective Presentations