The Workshop in Development Practice is one of most exciting opportunities for students in the Economic and Political Development (EPD) concentration (and a limited number of students in other concentrations) in the Masters of International Affairs and Masters of Public Administration degree programs. Officially, it is a spring-semester course for second-year students, but workshop activities begin in the fall semester through the course on Methods for Development Practice. Through the workshop, students gain practical experience while assisting a diverse range of clients on a variety of assignments related to international development, usually involving in-country fieldwork over SIPA’s winter or spring breaks. Working in teams with a faculty supervisor, students take a multidisciplinary approach to their work and learn extensively from each other as well as from the hands-on tasks of the workshop itself.
Another key strength of the workshop is that it allows students to explore the intersection of development concerns with human rights, corporate social responsibility, humanitarian affairs, conflict resolution, education, public health, gender, environmental policy, entrepreneurship and private sector development, and traditional and new media. Recent workshop clients have included UNDP, UNFPA, UN-HABITAT, UNICEF and UN Women; USAID; the World Bank; several national and local governments; development advisors such as DAI and TechnoServe; NGOs such as Catholic Relief Services, IFES, International Rescue Committee, Transparency International and WaterAid; and several start-up social enterprises. Teams produce actionable final reports and make final presentations to their clients at the end of the workshop, and several clients return each year to work with another team.