Projects sought for revamped Applied Policy Seminar

June 11, 2010

This fall, the Ford School will launch an expanded version of a popular course, the Applied Policy Seminar (APS), now called Strategic Public Policy Consulting or SPPC. The SPPC enables our Master of Public Policy students to serve as consultants to real-world policy organizations, developing key professional skills as they tackle significant policy challenges in the public, private, or non-profit sectors.

Professor Elisabeth Gerber, who led the restructuring of the course, has worked with Graduate Career Services staff to identify four client organizations for Fall 2010 (see details below).

The school is currently seeking proposals for Winter 2011 Applied Policy Seminar projects. Interested in putting the skills of Ford School students to work on solving your organization’s policy challenges? For more information, please contact Tom Phillips (, Assistant Director of Graduate Career Services, 734-615-6454.

The restructured APS, now called Strategic Public Policy Consulting or SPPC, is the first finished element of the major MPP curriculum review the school began last year. The revamped course will differ from past years in two ways. First, it will be available to more students and will include more projects each semester, drawn from a range of local, national, and international policy arenas and requiring a variety of methodological approaches.

Second, students who take the seminar are required to take a new 1-credit professional skills component along with it (open to other students as well). This course will be led in part by outside experts and will cover topics such as project management, presentation skills, and report/technical writing—skills that are essential to the APS and are among those most strongly recommended by students and alumni in the curriculum surveys.

Fall semester 2010 projects

Students enrolled in the Applied Policy Seminar for the fall semester 2010 will work on one of four projects:


  • Amnesty International USA has asked the Ford School class to identify and categorize U.S.-based stakeholders with the potential to influence human rights policies in South Africa and India. Students will then recommend which stakeholders would be most likely to have the optimal combination of interest in the issue and influence over relevant policymakers, what approaches should be used to engage these stakeholders, and how AIUSA can most effectively engage them.
  • The Government Accountability Office has proposed a project in which students will consider the transition to higher education for students with disabilities and determine what factors facilitate and impede this transition. The project will involve interviews with students, university personnel, and advocates; identification of best practices; and drafting of guidelines and recommendations.
  • The City of Warren, Michigan, has requested assistance from the Ford School class in developing a regional strategy and implementation plan for economic development related to the burgeoning defense and homeland security sectors.
  • One Lenawee, a group of business and civic leaders from Lenawee County, Michigan, is interested in identifying opportunities for cost-savings and efficiency gains through shared/combined municipal service provision. Students are asked to conduct surveys of local governments, catalog public facilities, and forecast cost savings under various scenarios.

Learn more about the restructured Applied Policy Seminar here.