Announcement

MSU MPP Linked Program Provides New Opportunities

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Students seeking the opportunity to complete their Master degree faster now have the chance. Through the BA-MPP Linked Program, students can start work in the field of public policy sooner than a traditional two-year graduate program would allow. Michigan State University’s Departments of Political Science and Economics have come together to create a comprehensive five-year Linked Bachelor and Master in Public Policy Degree Program.

“Completing them both within five years is saving me time, money, and effort, not only now but also in the future,” said Linked candidate, Sean Weston.  “The information and techniques I learned in my undergraduate studies are all still fresh and help me greatly in the coursework for my Master.”

The Linked program caters to students who want to pursue professional careers in policy analysis, program management, and policy advocacy. How it works is by allowing MSU undergraduates to apply up to 9 approved credits from the undergraduate level to their Master degree requirements, or vice versa.

The MPP Linked program has come with great excitement as its candidates have found many benefits to taking this route.

“One of the foremost benefits of being a linked student was having access to the resources of the MPP program, as well as resources reserved for undergraduates,” said Marcus Coffin. “One of the most useful skill-sets developed during the program is acquired through the quantitative sequence, as quantitative skills are occasionally neglected during the undergraduate experience in the social sciences, but they are demanded and coveted by employers. Interpersonal skills, teamwork, reading ability, and writing skills are also honed during the program.”

“In these few short weeks with the MPP program, I have been surrounded by great people and there has already been multiple opportunities to expand my knowledge of different policy issues. I look forward to seeing what all the program has to offer,” said Alexa Malesky.

Since the linked BA-MPP program’s start in 2011, there has been overwhelming positive feedback from both faculty and staff. The Linked program has provided a pathway to combining both undergraduate and grated level work to effectively place students on a track for success in the field of public policy.

If you are interested in learning more about MSU’s MPP Linked program, please visit: (http://polisci.msu.edu/index.php/mpp-program/prospective-students/linked-ba-mpp-program) or contact Professor Valentina Bali at Baliv@msu.edu.

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Internships, Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer, The Places They Go: Lauren Faulkner

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 8.52.16 PM Lauren Faulkner, a Michigan State University linked BA-MPP student, spent her summer interning with the Michigan Democratic Party in their Lansing office, as part of her last undergraduate degree requirements. While there she worked in two departments: Communications (most of the time) and Political Organizing.

Given next year’s upcoming elections Lauren found it exceptionally exciting to be working with the Michigan Democratic Party this summer. In the Communications Department, she worked on an array of tasks including: helping in the creation of a social media plan for posting news and events to various social media platforms and updating contacts for the party for the press, districts and Michigan caucuses. In Political Organizing, Lauren went out in the field to help citizens register to vote and ask to make a pledge to the Michigan Democratic Party. Overall, Lauren feels that her internship with the Michigan Democratic Party has enlightened her real world political knowledge and experience. She has especially enjoyed learning about the strategies of political parties to engage the citizenry, as well as what has to be done in order to spread the message.

Lauren’s previous experience with public policy has mainly been from her work with MSU’s Office for Survey Research (OSR) Lab as a Lab Manager. She has been working at OSR for three years now. In 2012 as an Interviewer she collected data through telephone surveys for various research studies. Since then she has been promoted to Lab Mentor, Lab Supervisor, Lab Manager, and most recently Assistant Project Manager. Her primary responsibilities and duties in the lab now include managing the survey research lab, training new interviewers, desk-testing new project instruments, various tasks to reach project goals, and other duties that keep the lab running smoothly. While at the Nisbet office, Lauren mainly works on program web-based surveys through the Qualtrics platform. She works with project managers and clients to ensure satisfaction with the web survey, as well as the mail version (if applicable).

Working in OSR for the past three years has given Lauren a lot of insight on how important information gathering is to public policy. When she has a project in the lab, there is a lot that she has to do to ensure the maintenance of high data quality, so that the results are accurate. The largest project in the lab, the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Study, is a state and federally funded health project that determines where monies would best be spent to improve state residents’ health. Lauren has gained a great appreciation for public policy after seeing the results and impacts that this project has done for the state of Michigan as well as other survey research conducted at OSR.

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Internships, Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer, The Places They Go: Eva Tetteh

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Eva Tetteh is a student in the Masters of Public Policy program at Michigan State University, interning with the USAID/Ghana Feed the Future Agriculture Policy Support Project. In Ghana, agriculture is recognized as the backbone of the economy providing food, income and employment to almost all its rural population. Chemonics International is implementing the USAID/Ghana, Feed the Future, Agriculture Policy Support Project (APSP), with a goal to improve the food security-enabling environment for private sector investment in agriculture, through evidence-based policy formation and implementation, strengthening research capacity and advocacy. APSP is working with the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) and other institutions in Ghana, including the private sector, civil society organizations, and universities and research institutions to accomplish this goal.

As part of her internship, Eva worked on setting up a database on all grantees’ activities. The purpose of this database was to help track the activities of grantees as well as monitor their progress. The database was divided it into three components: policy education, policy advocacy and policy dialogue. Currently, the project has sponsored six different organizations, which are educating farmers and input dealers at the grass root level to have in-depth knowledge about the various agricultural policies in Ghana.

In addition, she reviewed literature on the agricultural data collection needs in Ghana. Her task was to identify the capacity gaps in agriculture data collection so the project team could design an intervention that would strengthen data capacity and train field enumerators to collect reliable and defensible agriculture data for the Statistical Research Information Directorate (SRID) of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. Eva found that Ghana lacks reliable and defensible agricultural data, due to inadequate funds to conduct proper agricultural census and also lacks qualified enumerators to help collect reliable data. From this she has gained a great appreciation for the importance of well-collected data to support effective and evidence-based policy decision-making and implementation.

Furthermore, she designed a questionnaire to assess the research capacity gaps of the staff at the Ministry of Food and Agriculture. The aim of the questionnaire was to help identify the research capacity gaps of the relevant government units in order to assist in designing interventions to help build their research capacity.

Finally, Eva participated in the third year annual work planning retreat of the project. This was a three-day work plan, which brought together various stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to discuss the challenges confronting the agriculture sector and also propose solutions that will help resolve some of these problems.

Through Eva’s internship, she has gained an in-depth understanding about the agricultural sector of Ghana. Participating in various dialogues on agriculture has helped her understand and appreciate the importance of this sector and in general the need to create a policy enabling environment to enhance private sector investment in agriculture.

 

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Internships, Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer, The Places They Go: Abram Huyser-Honig

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Abram Huyser-Honig will be graduating from Michigan State University’s Master of Public Policy (MPP) program in spring 2016. He joined the program last fall after a decade of working in the nonprofit sector in Central America.

This summer Abram is working with the Analytics and Strategic Projects team at MSU’s Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies. He works closely with ASP director Corey Washington and Research Administrator Harriet McTigue (a 2013 grad of the MPP program) to help MSU leadership make better-informed decisions regarding hiring, compensation, and academic and research priorities, based on hard data and statistical analysis. Abram’s work involves gathering data from a wide variety of MSU databases as well as external sources such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Reporter and Google Scholar, cleaning and combining this data, while using a variety of analytical methods to answer questions like “What areas of medical research would it be most strategic for MSU to focus on in the coming years?” and “Which departments are most successful at obtaining federal grants, and why?”

Over the summer Abram has also continued his ongoing work as an editorial consultant to Revistazo.com, an investigative news website published by the Transparency International chapter in Honduras. An unprecedented protest movement has swept the country in recent months, born out of widespread public frustration with corruption. Revistazo has played an important role in bringing to light the details of corruption scandals implicating some of the highest-ranking elected officials in Honduras; the site has experienced nearly 100,000 visits in recent months, has generated thousands of shares and comments on social media, and several of its investigations have been reproduced by the country’s print, television, and radio news media.

 

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Internships

MPP in the Summer, The Places They Go: Marcus, Juan, Sean

This summer, three of Michigan State Master of Public Policy program students have taken on the City of Detroit’s Finance Department, Income Tax division. Marcus Coffin, Juan Loaiza and Sean Tobin are working in the Economic Policy Planning and Strategy office under Deputy Mayor Carol O’Cleireacain. This office is responsible for overseeing numerous aspects of Detroit’s tax collection process, from identifying non-filers to processing returns and providing customer service.

The project they have been working on is referred to as the Landlord-Tenant Project, in which they seek to identify city income tax non-filers in Greater Downtown Detroit with data obtained from the landlords and from the city’s tax software. This task involves a large amount of direct landlord contact and a huge data collection and cleaning operation. The goal is to develop a database that will give complete and accurate information in one place of residents that are subject to income tax and how to contact them. In finding the most effective method to do this each has played a part in offering new approaches. In particular Sean has had the opportunity to introduce and utilize his GIS skills to the current system to map income tax compliance in downtown neighborhoods over the past five years.

The MPP students were part of the inaugural class of InnovateGov, a program developed by Assistant Professor of Political Science Josh Sapotichne and MSU Extension faculty member Eric Scorsone to help students gain real-world experience in local government while assisting urban governments with complex problems. Sapotichne and Scorsone, who lead an ongoing research project on municipal fiscal distress and state intervention, worked with students throughout the summer to help connect their academic work to their experience at the city.

From the internship experience Marcus finds he has learned a great deal about how city bureaucracies function day-to-day. It has also taught him about how data is used in city government, and the importance of maintaining up-to-date data. When initially arriving in the city they were assigned to build a database from the ground up using data from disparate sources. Had their been a place where all of this data is collected and kept would have made the job far easier.

Juan has also come to find the importance of cities collecting data at present in order to ease future operations, programs and facilitate the leadership decision-making. In addition Juan has learned how to identify solutions to problems involving large amounts and incomplete data. He hopes moving forward through work such as this, more effective methods will be adapted in the public sector and cut back on current inefficiencies.

Through their time with the City of Detroit, Marcus, Juan and Sean have all come to gain a better understanding of bureaucratic operations and team building to accomplish set end goals. Their work is extremely important to the city and has come to be mutually beneficial.

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Internships, Student Profiles

MPP in the Summer, The Places They Go: Pauline Wambua

jfgjPauline Wambua is a Michigan State University Master of Public Policy student, who has had the privilege to spend her summer interning at the Economic Policy Research Center (EPRC) in Makerere University, Uganda. EPRC is Uganda’s leading think tank in research and development policy. This center provides key policy analysis to support the formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of government policies.

Pauline is working with one of the researchers to design a study to investigate optimal financing strategies within Uganda’s primary education subsector. Education in Uganda is centralized and in 1997 the government abolished all tuition fees and other charges for primary education. However, insufficient funding is one of the challenges faced by Uganda’s education sector. Her current role is to review related literature including lessons from other countries. She is also doing trend analyses of household spending on education, national budget allocation on the education sector, and how much schools receive from the government for tuition.

She was also privileged to attend two national functions in Uganda organized by EPRC: a discussion on “Macro economic implications of the 2015/16 budget”, and the 4th National Agricultural Policy Forum.

 

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