IPS Students: Solving Real-World Policy Problems

“The chance to tackle complex, real world policy problems and propose workable solutions is invaluable for our students as they prepare for their careers.  It’s one more way that our program bridges theory and practice.” 
- Kathryn Stoner, IPS Director and FSI Senior Fellow.  

The Ford Dorsey Program in International Policy Studies (IPS) trains the next generation of policy experts and leaders who will  influence policy in foreign affairs, trade, security, energy, global health, and political and economic development.

At the core of IPS is Stanford’s exceptional faculty and an interdisciplinary approach through which our master’s students develop a broad range and depth of knowledge. Students work closely with scholars from Stanford’s global research centers, in particular the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI).

A key element of the IPS experience is the practicum, a two-quarter capstone course in which students work in teams to conduct  policy analyses for real-world client organizations. Students undertake the practicum during autumn and winter quarters of the second year of the program. With guidance from the client and Stanford faculty, each student team will produce an analysis of an issue faced by the client and policy options to address it.

Our students’ work on their practicum projects has been featured in international media, like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and CNN.

The Course

The IPS Practicum is taught during autumn and winter quarters by Dr. Kathryn Stoner, IPS Faculty Director, Deputy Director of the Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, and Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies.


The Client Experience

We invite potential clients to contact IPS to discuss the feasibility of turning a policy issue or problem into a formal practicum project. Each year IPS selects approximately six projects, which are finalized during August. IPS will work with each client to develop a customized  project, offering a service to the client as well as a learning experience for the students.

During the 20-week course, which begins in late September and finishes in mid-March, clients meet with their student team a minimum of four times to discuss the project and provide feedback to ensure that the team’s work meets client needs.

Client meetings are generally held via conference call or internet video (e.g., Skype). Additionally, each team will be guided by a Stanford faculty member, or in most cases, multiple faculty members.

Each client will receive a progress report at the mid-point as well as a final professional report and final presentation. Practicum deliverables may be published or publicized depending on subject matter, findings, and client needs. In addition to being featured in the news, past groups have been invited to speak at conferences and testify before legislative bodies. In certain instances students have been hired by their project clients after graduation to continue working on the practicum findings.
Interested in becoming a practicum client? Download further information here.