Welcome back! How long has it been? Seems like it was forever ago when I wrote my first blog post for the Heller Admissions Blog. I blinked, and now we are in the final semester of my Master of Public Policy program. “Oh yeah, you made it, you made it”, just like Teyana Taylor said. So with graduation being about 100 days away, let’s chat about the classes I will be taking this semester to wrap up the Master of Public Policy Program:
Capstone Seminar with Mary Brolin
This is the most important class I will be registered for in my entire academic career here at Heller. The capstone seminar course is designed for students to highlight the policy analysis skills that we have developed throughout our time here. We generally choose a topic that is relevant to our concentration; having a topic in close proximity with your concentration makes it easier to obtain background knowledge to the policy area and any relevant literature. After determining our topic, we develop action plans to help us conduct our research, literature reviews to diagnose our policy problem, and weigh out the pros and cons for potential policy solutions. By the end of the course, we should have a 25-30 page policy brief, and in the final week of classes, we have a oral presentation on our policy brief. What makes me excited for this course is the opportunity to showcase the policies I am passionate about and what I believe to be potential policy solutions. Bet you want to know what I choose for my topic, huh? Seems like you will have to come to capstone presentations to find it out 😉
Public Finance with Sakshi Jain
This course focuses on the facts and analytical tools to help us determine and understand the theory behind public spending. Some of the focus questions for this course are: what is public spending? When can public spending be too little or too much? Is public spending properly allocated among competing uses and levels of government? As we navigate these questions we will be responsible for producing two blog posts (will I ever be able to escape writing blogs?), a group presentation with a policy brief on a tax policy of interest, and a final funding proposal which will be an extension of our group presentation and policy brief. I am hoping to leave this class with more knowledge on how we decide on public finance, like: what measures do we use? How do we develop these measures? Who has the final say? I plan to be a sponge in this class and soak up all the knowledge that I can, because a public finance class for a policy student can either make or break you.
Social Experimentation in Children, Youth, and Family Policymaking with Dolores Acevedo Garcia
This course provides a graduate level introduction to the use of social experimentation methods in policy research. When I first saw that this course was up for registration, I actually said, “Ooooh!”. Honestly, who doesn’t love a course where you can learn how to critically assess policy content, design, results and recommendations, especially when it is social policy focused? We will cover the five basic elements of social experiments (research questions, experimental design, measurement methods, implementation, and interpretation of results) through case studies. We will be responsible for producing an in class policy review, which will serve as our midterm for the course, a non-comprehensive systematic review, and a non-comprehensive review of reviews. I feel this course will really challenge my critical thinking and writing skills in order to help me understand how to design experimental studies to assess the effects of social policies.
Child and Family Policy with Marji Warfield
We have only been back in school for two weeks but I would say this course is starting to become my favorite. The course is organized in three sections: (1) a focus on discussing the definition of family, family functions, and family challenges, in addition to examining the emergence of family policies and how families with diverse identities intersect with different human service systems; (2) family policies designed to support family functions assessing this through policy models on problem definition and policy solutions in conjunction with theoretical frameworks such as critical race theory and intersectionality; and (3) implementation challenges and dilemmas will be investigated through the use of a policy implementation framework and family policy themes. In the class we will be responsible for producing three written papers (a fact sheet, a problem definition and policy solutions, and policy implementation), a individual presentation, and participate in share sessions which are connected to our in class book clubs. What I enjoy the most so far in this class is how we are able to engage with the materials assigned and be able to have open and honest conversations about what families look like. We are able to connect to the material on our personal experiences but not for it to be overpowering of our end goal of effective policy making and solutions.
I am looking forward to wrapping up my final semester here at Heller this year with these final core and concentration required courses I hope to have developed a sustainably and transferable work portfolio. Will we make it to the finish line? Stay tuned!