Students get real-world learning through Strategic Consulting course

August 13, 2019

One of the cornerstone courses of the Ford School’s applied approach has a new name. Applied Policy Seminar will now be titled “Strategic Public Policy Consulting” (Strategic Consulting) to better exemplify the engaged learning students experience in the class by emphasizing the consulting aspect of the course.

“The course pulls together hard and soft skills that students get through their coursework at the Ford School, and gives them a chance to apply strategic thinking to a real-life policy problem,” explained Elisabeth Gerber, associate dean for research and policy engagement and director of the Program for Practical Policy Engagement. “The new name indicates that students will be thinking strategically on a public policy issue for a client.”

Strategic Consulting students work in teams on a project for a government or non-profit sector client and consult on a public policy problem the client is facing throughout the semester. Students become the expert consultants, providing a critical look at the challenge the organization is facing and offering strategic insights garnered through research. The project culminates in a presentation and final paper providing recommendations to the client at the end of the semester.

Students are organized into teams based on their interests and expertise; the class is open to Ford School MPP and BA students along with professional students in other U-M programs. This makes for a rich learning experience as students identify their strengths, select team roles, and work collaboratively.  

Because of the applied nature of the class, a major benefit of the experience is the opportunity to build a portfolio through the semester-long assignment. The work product and experience with a team-based project provide students with examples to share during interviews with potential employers. “It gives students a chance to put all the different skills they learned together, leads to a lot of ‘aha’ moments, and demonstrates their problem solving to a prospective employer,” Gerber said.

To learn more about students’ experience in Strategic Consulting, check out this video.

The fall section of Strategic Consulting (PubPol 578) still has space available for students to enroll.

If you are interested in having Strategic Consulting students work on a project, fill out this form