“The Capstone Learning Experience”
Professor Douglas J. Besharov

The Project Course is meant to be social policy students’ capstone learning experience at the School of Public Policy. It is a client-based workshop in which students integrate their prior course instruction with a real-world experience, grappling with current policy questions and the practical needs of policy makers and managers.

Although the Project Course is officially offered in the Spring semester before students graduate, the process of finding clients and matching students to clients begins earlier. Clients are invited to participate in the summer before the Project Course and are encouraged to submit their project proposals before the Fall semester begins. Early in the Fall semester, students are matched to clients and are encouraged to begin working with their client in developing the project for the next semester. By the end of the Fall semester, most students have finalized their project proposals and have begun work on the projects. Classes in the Spring semester are intended to bolster student’s understanding of policy analysis and evaluation and to provide a forum for students to discuss their progress in their projects.

The course is required for all 48-credit (MPP) Social Policy students. Work must be completed by graduation.

A word about the student-client relationship: This course is meant to be the capstone of the student's learning experience at the University of Maryland School of Public Policy. Student projects (and clients) are selected because they seem to be offer best teaching and learning opportunities for the students. Of necessity, the reports the students prepare reflect both the time constraints placed on the students and the limited relationship they have with the "client." Moreover, they are not subjected to formal agency vetting and editing processes. Hence, the reports should be understood to be the products of the students and not official products of their clients.

Current Syllabus

Course Papers and Presentations

Spring 2013

Spring 2012

Spring 2011

Spring 2010

Spring 2009


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