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

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Current Course Offerings

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

Summer 2019 | Fall 2019 | Spring 2020

Spring 2020

Policy Writing for a General Audience

Professor Libby Nelson

Jan. 25 & Jan. 26

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

Feb. 1 & Feb. 2

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

Feb. 22 & Feb. 29

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

March 21 & March 28

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

April 4 & April 11

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

Sept. 7 & 8

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

Sept. 28 & 29

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

Oct. 6 & 20

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

Oct. 12 & 26

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

Nov. 2 & 9

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

Nov. 5 & 19

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

May 18 & 19

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

June 1 & 15

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

June 8 & 9

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

June 22 & 23

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

July 13 & 27

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

August 3 & 10

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