Engaged learning

An applied approach to public service

We believe that interactions with people and organizations outside of U-M who are actively working on—and have the capacity for changing—public policy helps prepare our students to become leaders in service of the public good.  

We are an engaged learning and teaching community. 

The Ford School is deeply integrated with a wide range of policy communities cultivated by our faculty and our strong and engaged alumni network that provide opportunities for students to engage with real-world policy issues in the classroom and through research, activities, and workshops. And we offer a wide range of opportunities that allow students to use what they've learned in the classroom through hands-on, practical policy experiences. 

Practical courses and experiences

Whether it's during their summer internship, consulting for credit, or during a policy simulation or workshop, students have numerous opportunities to practice what they learn in the classroom, here at home or abroad. Courses and independent study projects provide opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to engage with community partners in dialogue, research, and service as they conduct program evaluations, policy research, grant writing, and more.

My community learning project has allowed me to connect with like-minded students to make a difference [in Detroit]. I really appreciate the opportunity to give back and do so on the incredible issue of community and police reforms."

Kyron Smith (MPP '22) who worked with Peace and Justice in Detroit
Graduate course

Strategic Public Policy Consulting

The SPPC master's level course gives students the chance to complete a commissioned policy project for a public sector or non-profit client. Teams of students work with a client to study and address significant challenges at the local, state, national, and global levels under the direction of faculty and outside advisors.
Strategic Public Policy Consulting
Graduate course

Integrated Policy Exercise

An intense week-long policy simulation for master's students that links students with leading policymakers dealing with today’s most pressing issues. IPE covers topics such as immigration policy, U.S.-Mexico border policy, health care reform, regional transportation, Great Lakes water management, and much more.
Integrated Policy Exercise
Graduate course

International Economic Development Program (IEDP)

For more than 20 years, the IEDP course has immersed master's students in international development policy, and provided direct study and hands-on work in foreign contexts. Learn more about the program and past trips.
International Economic Development Program (IEDP)
International policy education

On the map

Travel courses, research projects, and internships take flight for graduate and undergraduate students.
Read the story
MPP internship

At work in the world

MPP students use their summer internship to work on critical policy issues to enhance their classroom experiences and gain hands-on experience. Students have direct access to highly selective internships in diverse domestic and international organizations, and we offer generous stipends when needed.
Policy at work
Undergraduate and master's competition

"Budgets are moral documents"

Alex Perez-Garcia (MPP/MBA, '24) began her winning pitch by describing her internship with the Office of Budget for the City of Detroit. Twelve presenters shared their summer internships in three-minute soundbites to a packed audience of students, faculty, and staff.
Read the story

Research centers offer additional opportunities for students at all levels to work directly with public officials and the community.

  • The Weiser Diplomacy Center is the regional hub for diplomatic practice. Students receive hands-on diplomacy training through practical training sessions and simulations with renowned speakers. WDC sponsors Weiser Diplomacy Fellowships offered to four students each academic year.
  • The International Policy Center promotes research and serves as a hub for international studies at the school. IPC offers international course experience through the International Economic Development Program as well as opportunities for students to develop their own international research with Student-Initiated Project funding.
  • Each academic year, the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy employs policy analysts to research and analyze state and local issue areas. Students can also pursue this position as an independent study.
  • Through the Center on Finance, Law & Policy's Detroit Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Project (DNEP), students provide technical and strategic consulting services to neighborhood-based entrepreneurs.
  • Poverty Solutions offers academic programs, student workshops, events to deepen students' understanding of the root causes of poverty. There are many opportunities for students to engage in research projects and community conversations and outreach, and policy engagement. 
  • The Center for Racial Justice (CRJ) welcomes graduate and undergraduate research assistants to analyze how public policies have undermined or advanced the goal of racial equity.
  • The Student Research Corps at the Science, Technology, and Public Policy (STPP) program allows students to respond to the needs of the community and provide answers to their questions about technical and policy advocacy. Student researchers work with community partners on research that helps bring their voices and expertise to public policy discussions related to science and technology.

Learn more about the Ford School research centers.


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Sep 13 2024

Ford School Reunion

12:00-6:00 pm

Additional U-M resources

The University of Michigan offers extensive resources for international engagement, including internationally focused courses, internships, study abroad, language instruction, and research opportunities. Other resources include: