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
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.
I learned about the importance of teamwork, the impact of legislation, and how quickly the political landscape can change."
Sarah Niemann (BA '22)
I can’t say enough about how responsive, thoughtful, professional, smart, and organized this team of students was throughout the semester. The work by this team was very comprehensive."
Governor Gretchen Whitmer event: Ford School students perspective Mar 24, 2023
Susan Rice on Tough Love: 'My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For' Jan 20, 2020
Debbie Dingell and Fred Upton: Voices from across the aisle Feb 18, 2019
Hillary Clinton: Reflections on Foreign Policy: Defense, Diplomacy, and Development Oct 10, 2019
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: