Policy Change Studio

Policy Change Studio

Policy Change Studio

Training Policy Change-Makers to Solve Problems in the Real World

The MIP Capstone Experience

While problems can be neatly solved in the classroom through policy briefs or equations, the real world is much more complex. Uncertainty, bureaucracy, resource constraints, and politics are just some of the obstacles that await students upon graduation, yet traditional courses do not adequately prepare them for these challenges.
Policy Change Studio is designed to provide Master’s in International Policy (MIP) students with the know-how to bring about change in the real world. The two-quarter course, in which second-year students work with partner organizations to tackle global policy problems, is the capstone experience of the MIP program. Guided by an innovative problem-solving framework, student teams work with partner organizations to analyze policy problems, craft solutions, and develop implementation plans designed for success.


The MIP Problem-Solving Framework

A multi-disciplinary, iterative guide for solving public problems in the real world.

Teaching Team

fukuyama teaching

Francis Fukuyama

Faculty Co-Director

Jeremy Weinstein

Faculty Co-Director
P. Laboon

Patrick Laboon

Capstone Manager
MIP Problem-Solving Framework
  • MIP Problem-Solving Framework
  • Holistic Teaching Network
  • Field Work
  • Timeline

MIP Problem-Solving Framework

Too often, problem-solving is approached without the right tools or mindsets for achieving success. Trendy solutions are pursued before the problem is understood, data analysis is undertaken without an appreciation of the context, and "optimal" solutions are put into place that have no chance of being implemented.
Drawing from cross-disciplinary methods as well as the expertise and experience of Professors Francis Fukuyama and Jeremy Weinstein, the MIP Problem-Solving Framework aims to provide a roadmap for successfully tackling global public problems. The framework teaches students to put problems first, only working towards a solution after understanding the context and causes of the problem. Students then craft evidence-based solutions designed for impact, and navigate the many challenges of implementation that are too often overlooked.
The framework provides the structure for Policy Change Studio, with each step entailing a set of tools and exercises to be applied towards students’ projects and beyond.

Holistic Teaching Network

Policy Change Studio students benefit from a holistic teaching network that provides multiple layers of support. The network consists of faculty chairs Professors Francis Fukuyama and Jeremy Weinstein, program manager Patrick Laboon, project partners from outside organizations, faculty mentors with expertise in the project topic, and teamwork coaches Dikla Carmel-Hurwitz and Leslie Chin.

Field Work

Field work is an indispensable part of the Policy Change Studio experience. Through field work, students are able to interact with stakeholders, collect primary data, test assumptions, and otherwise gain an understanding of realities on the ground. Each student team is supported by the MIP Program to travel to field locations during their spring break.

Click here for details on field work from our MIP Class of 2022.


Policy Change Studio takes place during the winter and spring quarters of MIP students' second year in the program (January to June). Students travel to field locations during their spring break (typically late March).

Scoping for projects begins during the spring proceeding the start of the course cycle. 

Call for Project Partners

We invite interested organizations to contact us about turning a public problem they face into a Policy Change Studio project. We are currently sourcing projects for our upcoming course cycle, which will run from January to June 2023. We will select about 8 projects for our 2023 course, with each project assigned a team of 3-4 students. 
Projects will be selected on a rolling basis and be chosen based on fit with the course structure, the partner's commitment to the project, student interest, and faculty expertise in the topic. The partner’s ability to support student travel may also be considered in selecting projects. Partners can come from any sector as long as the project is focused on solving a public problem.
During the 6-month course period, partners regularly engage with student teams to give feedback, share expertise, provide data, and otherwise support the projects. Partners must be willing to work through the course curriculum and framework and open to allowing students challenge existing practices and assumptions.
For more information, please contact Patrick Laboon at plaboon@stanford.edu