As a capstone of their educational experiences at the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy, students are required to write a high-quality professional paper (Applied Policy Project or APP) to fulfill the requirements of the Master of Public Policy degree. With faculty supervision and advice, each student conducts a thorough analysis of a major policy question facing a “real-world” organization in the public, non-profit or private sectors, applying the interdisciplinary methods, approaches, and perspectives studied in the Batten School’s core curriculum. This paper must meet not only the academic standards of the School’s faculty, but also the standards and needs of a practitioner who acts as a “client” for the work.
Admission to the Batten School is very competitive, so the students are all quite talented. Before APP, they will all have completed core courses in microeconomics, statistics, political analysis and leadership development, as well as received training in a systematic analytical approach to solving problems in the public interest. The main objective of the APP is to give students the opportunity to apply this approach to real-world policy problems/opportunities.
Students are expected to act professionally, to keep confidences, and to be respectful of people’s busy schedules. Many clients compensate students for the APP; others do not. This is a matter of individual negotiation between the student and client.
Most students begin their APP in early January, although several begin earlier. We encourage students to begin conversations with prospective clients during the summer and into the fall to explore the feasibility of an APP. The projects are due in mid May. The students participate in a weekly seminar during the spring semester and receive constructive feedback from peers and the faculty instructor.
A client has five main obligations:
- meet with the students early in the life of the project to give them an orientation and agree on a problem statement;
- advise them about sources;
- when required, arrange for their access to others in the organization;
- read the final report; and
- return the short evaluation form that will accompany the paper.
If possible, clients are also expected to reimburse the students for copying and transportation expenses. Most clients want to do more than this. Interacting more frequently with the students, including commenting on interim written products, improves the product and increases the likelihood that it will meet the client’s needs.
We believe that The Batten School is offering your organization a valuable opportunity and resource, and we appreciate very much your willingness to consider participating in this capstone event for our students. If you have any questions, please contact David Breneman or Raymond Scheppach.