Training policy change-makers by tackling real-world problems

The MIP Practicum

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.
The Master’s in International Policy (MIP) Practicum is designed to provide students with the know-how to bring about change in the real world. The practicum is a two-quarter capstone course in which second-year students work with partner organizations to tackle global policy problems. Guided by an innovative problem-solving framework, student teams analyze policy problems, craft solutions, and develop implementation plans designed for success.

The MIP Problem-Solving Framework

Developed by Prof. Francis Fukuyama & Prof. Jeremy Weinstein

    New Problem-Solving Framework
  • New Problem-Solving Framework
  • Holistic Teaching Network
  • Field Work
  • Timeline

New Problem-Solving Framework

Too often, problem-solving is approached without a path for achieving success. Trendy solutions are pursued before the problem is understood, data analysis is undertaken without an appreciation of the context, and plans are put into place that have no chance of surviving the political climate.
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 policy 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 will guide the structure of the practicum, with each step entailing a set of tools and exercises to be applied towards students’ projects and beyond.

Holistic Teaching Network

Practicum 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 spearhead the curriculum, lead class sessions, and provide overall leadership of the practicum program.
  • Practicum Manager: Kimberly Renk works closely with Professors Fukuyama and Weinstein to manage all aspects of the MIP Practicum.
  • Practicum Partners: Each student team works with an outside organization on a problem that affects them. Practicum partners provide students with regular input throughout the practicum process.
  • Faculty Mentors: Each student team is provided a faculty mentor who has expertise in the project topic.
  • Teamwork Coaches: Teamwork specialists Dikla Carmel-Hurwitz and Leslie Chin coach student teams on effective teamwork strategies.

Field Work

Field work is an indispensable part of the practicum 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 practicum team is supported by the MIP Program to travel to field locations during their spring break.


The practicum 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 practicum projects begins during the spring proceeding the start of the practicum cycle. 

Call for Practicum Partners

Are you facing a tricky policy problem in your work? Perhaps you don’t have the time or resources to address it on your own. Consider turning your problem into a MIP Practicum project!
We invite interested organizations to submit practicum project proposals during our project scoping period, which will begin in May 2019. For the 2020 practicum cycle, we will select about 8 practicum projects for our students. Projects will be chosen based on student interest, faculty expertise, partner commitment, and fit with the course structure. 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 policy problem.
During the 6-month practicum period, partners regularly meet with student teams to share expertise, give feedback, provide data, and otherwise support the practicum projects. Partners must be open to students pursuing a variety of solutions to the problem and even reframing the problem itself.

For more information, please contact Kimberly Renk.