Experiential Learning: PBPL 85 Global Policy Leadership

Global citizenship and engagement are key. Understanding one’s place in the world and the complexities of international policy dilemmas truly allow for one to become a global citizen—an identity especially important in our modern world. At Dartmouth, every year, Public Policy 85: Global Policy Leadership (PBPL 85) offers our public policy students a unique experimental learning opportunity that allows them to deconstruct cross-cultural barriers and become well versed in the intricacies of global policy through a combination of classroom instruction and international travel.

The course begins in the classroom during the fall term, when a select group of students study the history and context of a public policy challenge in a particular country or region. Students are introduced to the process of assessing problems and developing solutions to the challenge, practices important to cultivating civically engaged, global leaders.

The class then travels to the country or region during Dartmouth’s winter interim to conduct field research. Students meet with local policy leaders: politicians, academics, civil society leaders, journalists, business leaders, diplomats, and other in-country experts who help inform their analyses.

This travel not only deepens the student’s understanding of the policy issues, but also builds on leadership and communication skills through direct contact with policymakers and other leaders abroad.

By the end of the course, students are completely invested in the topic—it is now personal, nuanced, and tangible.

For a final project, the students jointly write and distribute a detailed memo with specific policy recommendations, as targeted and actionable as possible. This requirement helps to synthesize the lessons learned from ten weeks of study on campus with their field work.

The final project also gives students the chance to learn and practice transferable workplace skills, such as conducting interviews, project management, teamwork, negotiation, and problem solving.

The topics undertaken during the first four years of the course include: economic reform in India (2013), the peace process in Northern Ireland (2014), the U.S. role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (2015) and an evaluation of civil society in Ukraine utilizing USAID assessment methodologies (2016).

Students enrolled in the course in the Fall term of 2017, explored Liberia 2030: A Political and Economic Roadmap with Professor Charles Wheelan ’88. Throughout the term, twelve rising juniors and seniors conducted an in-depth analysis of policy and left campus in early December for Monrovia for field research.

The final policy memo will contain a blueprint to inform domestic political decisions; to focus the efforts of domestic and international NGOs; and to guide aid efforts by the United States and other international donors. Ultimately, this memo will serve as the culmination of their experience in the course and its international travel component as well as serve as a useful resource for elected officials and policymakers with whom it will be shared.

Written by Alexandrea Keith '20, Rockefeller Center Student Program Assistant for Communications