International Policy Practicum

 

The International Policy Practicum (IPP) was conceived in 2005 as a tool for connecting the University of Chicago to the world and providing real-world international policy experience to a select group of Chicago Harris students.

Each year, around 10 second-year Chicago Harris students are chosen to study a specific international topic, such as the fight against TB in India or youth and violence in El Salvador.

During the fall quarter, the students study the topic in depth, as they would for any other Chicago Harris class. The unique aspect of the course, however, is that at end of the quarter the 10 students and Professor Alicia Menendez travel to the country of study, where they spend two weeks interviewing policy experts: policy makers, academics, local journalists, business leaders, U.S. diplomats, and other experts “on the ground” who can help to inform their topic of study. The group also makes relevant site visits—everything from interviewing residents in a rural Cambodian village about their health care options to meeting with the leaders of non-profit organizations operating in the infamous favelas outside Rio de Janeiro.

Upon their return to Chicago, the participating Harris students are responsible for producing a collaborative 40-50 page briefing memo with policy recommendations on their topic. This memo is distributed to officials with whom the group has met and other relevant policy actors in the U.S. and the country of study. It is also typically published in the Chicago Policy Review, a student organized policy journal at the Harris School. Most importantly, the policy recommendations have proved strikingly prescient over the years. For example, President Barack Obama’s maiden foreign policy trip included a stop in Istanbul, an explicit recommendation in the 2008 student memo because of Turkey’s unique role as a bridge between Europe and the Middle East. Several of the IPP memos have been requested by outside policy makers, even years after the reports were originally written.

2005-2006: ECONOMIC REFORM IN INDIA
2006-2007: POVERTY ALLEVIATION AND INCOME INEQUALITY IN BRAZIL
2007-2008: JORDAN, THE U.S., AND THE FUTURE OF THE MIDDLE EAST
2008-2009: TURKEY: EAST AND WEST
2009-2010: THE AID DEBATE: THE DONORS’ CHALLENGE IN CAMBODIA’S HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
2010-2011: RWANDA AND MADAGASCAR: THE ROLE OF INSTITUTIONS IN ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
2011-2012: YOUTH IN EL SALVADOR: BUILDING HUMAN CAPITAL FOR DEVELPOMENT
2012-2013: THE FIGHT AGAINST TUBERCULOSIS IN INDIA
2013-2014: YOUTH TRANSITION TO THE LABOR MARKET IN MOROCCO
2014-2015: LEVELING THE PLAYING FIELD: EDUCATION POLICIES AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITIES IN CHILE.

The IPP has become one of the most popular and valuable courses offered at Chicago Harris, and it provides significant long-term benefits to Chicafo Harris, the University, Chicago and beyond:

• Participating students have an opportunity to marry their academic work at Chicago Harris with crucial real-world experience. The IPP is routinely described by students as the most formative experience of their time at Chicago Harris and an opportunity that guides their career interests.
• The IPP trains a large cohort of students year after year who go on to do significant work within the U.S. government, for global non-profits, for private firms doing significant international work (e.g. putting private capital to work building infrastructure in countries like Brazil), and other policy-related institutions.
• The IPP invokes the University of Chicago “brand” literally all over the world and provides exposure for the relatively young field of public policy.
• The participants in the IPP create long-term bonds between Chicago and important policy actors all over the world. Many of the prominent individuals with whom the IPP students meet remain involved with Chicago Harris through their participation in the Dean’s International Council.

In short, the International Policy Practicum connects the University of Chicago with the world in a way that is likely to pay dividends for all parties involved for decades to come. Now that the IPP is entering its eighth year and has become “institutionalized” as an important part of Chicago Harris curriculum, we are seeking a source of long-term funding. Those students who are chosen to participate annually must pay a $950 co-pay. The balance of the budget has typically been cobbled together from a variety of sources, many of which are unique to the country of study.

Our current goal is to create a dedicated funding source for the International Policy Practicum that would eliminate the need for yearly fundraising and allow the organizers of the course to focus on academic content and trip logistics. We hope that you might consider supporting this program. We would be delighted to provide additional information or to arrange a follow-up meeting.