HHH seeks capstone project proposals for 2017-18

TO: Prospective Client Organizations
FROM: Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Global Public Policy/Masters of Development Practice
DATE: July 2017
SUBJECT: Call for Capstone Project Proposals for the 2017-2018 Academic Year

The Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota invites proposals from organizations interested in working with a graduate student team as part of the  2017-2018 academic year combined Global Public Policy and Master of Development Practice (MDP) graduate student capstone courses.  

We invite project proposals from public, nonprofit and intergovernmental organizations working in international political, economic, security, human rights, humanitarian/relief, development or environmental fields. The attached request for proposals (RFP) includes a description of the course and guidelines for submission Please submit proposals electronically to gpa@umn.edu and feel free to direct any questions to the faculty at the contact information below.

Proposals for the 2017-2018 academic year are due September 9, 2017.  Please contact us before submission  if you would like to discuss your project idea or the capstone project experience in general.

Contact Information:

Mary T. Curtin, Diplomat in Residence (mtcurtin@umn.edu)
Sherry Gray, Director, International Programs (grayx260@umn.edu)
Robert Kudrle, Freeman Professor of International Trade and Investment Policy (kudrle@umn.edu)
David Wilsey, Director, Master of Development Practice, (dwilsey@umn.edu)


Global Policy Area
Humphrey School of Public Affairs 
University of Minnesota
232 Hubert H. Humphrey Center, 301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455 USA
Telephone (1-612) 626-5674;  Fax 625-3513  


Capstone courses are a culminating project for Humphrey School master’s degree programs.  The Capstone projects are designed to mutually benefit the client, the community being served, and the students. The project team consists of three to five master's-level graduate students who address challenges and identify opportunities for a client organization, provide a program evaluation, or conduct research on a policy and/or development question of interest to the organization. Graduate students draw upon their professional experience and academic knowledge from content or issue areas, key process skills, including project management and teamwork, and from qualitative and quantitative methods for gathering, analyzing and reporting data. The project team will approach the assignment with initiative and professionalism that results in a carefully considered final product.  Faculty members will guide the research, writing, and presentation of the final product.

Timeline: Students will be assigned to projects and form teams in the fall of 2017 and conduct projects primarily in the Spring 2018 semester, completing the project by May 2018.

Capstone projects selected and graduate student teams formed.
Graduate student teams and capstone clients work together on a contract (memorandum of agreement) and team work plan.  Students will prepare for the project (planning, research, skills preparation)
Possible time for preliminary research, especially if overseas travel required.
Students carry out project work
Students submit the final product, including any written materials or tools, and a formal presentation; the client will submit an evaluation of the students as specified by both parties in the contract, and the project will conclude.
All details and deadlines will be outlined in the jointly drafted memorandum of agreement between the students and the client organization.  

Selection Process
Humphrey faculty teaching the global policy and MDP capstone courses will review all submitted proposals and select proposals that:
  • focus on a global issue;
  • have a clearly defined research question or policy project;
  • are realistic for the students to complete within the proposed timeline;
  • state clearly whether or not the students would be required to travel in order to conduct research, with full information on the length and nature of the travel.

Ownership and Use of Final Report
Unless otherwise agreed upon in writing, the graduate students and the client shall jointly own the intellectual property rights, including copyright, in the materials and any other intellectual property developed as part of the capstone project, as subjected to University of Minnesota policies. The students may choose to make public the project in the University of Minnesota Library Digital Archives, to share with prospective employers, and to make available for future researchers or graduate students undertaking similar capstone projects.

Students are not compensated for their work on the Humphrey School capstone project for the client. In the event that any international travel is involved in the project, the client is expected to cover some of the costs or expenses. This could include transportation, lodging, food, printing, language interpreters or other agreed-upon expenses. Expenses will be negotiated by the client and the student team in the contract.  The Humphrey School provides limited support to students for Capstone related travel.

Mutual Expectations
Successful capstone projects are grounded in good relationships between the client, the graduate students and the faculty advisor. Good relationships involve mutual respect and an understanding of the expectations of all parties involved. Thus, the following list seeks to outline the mutual expectations and responsibilities of the client, the graduate students, and the faculty.

Graduate students will:
  • deliver a work product that fulfills the project’s objectives and the client’s expectations;
  • bring commitment, energy, and personal areas of expertise to working on the project;
  • utilize the best of their abilities and experience;
  • engage openly and fairly with clients, faculty, other students and stakeholders;
  • be resilient and maintain a positive attitude toward unexpected challenges or project changes;
  • be the direct beneficiaries of the project.

Clients will:
  • prepare a concrete, feasible project proposal with well-defined proposed deliverables;
  • provide a single contact/liaison person for the project;
  • support and communicate well with students and faculty;
  • mentor students and treat them as partners in the project;
  • allow revision of the project when necessary;
  • provide useful feedback during and after the project (used to inform project grades);
  • cover agreed upon expenses for students’ international travel/project costs, when necessary.

Faculty advisor will:
  • create a supportive and challenging learning environment for students;
  • build a well-defined framework from which students will work that involves a set of class meetings, activities and assignments;
  • offer intellectual and technical expertise, experience and referrals;
  • support the client as needed to make sure that the project progresses to a successful conclusion;
  • act as a liaison between the Humphrey School, the client and the students as needed;
  • facilitate opportunities for students to think about their project within the larger international/global political/development/humanitarian framework in which it takes place;
  • provide helpful feedback and grade the project at its conclusion.

Please use the following template in submitting project proposals:

  1. Date
  2. Name of organization
  3. Address of organization
  4. Name of contact person in your organization for the capstone project
  5. Phone number of contact person in your organization
  6. E-mail Address of contact person in your organization

  1. Description of project
  • A brief overview of the issue that the proposed project will address.
  • An explanation of your organization’s mission
  • A specific list of activities the client would like the students to engage in (i.e., program   evaluation, cost-benefit analysis, data collection, financial analysis, research, planning)
  • Specific skills the client is looking for (i.e., foreign language proficiency, experience with specific software, statistics, evaluation skills, familiarity with the issue or problem)
  • Potential risks for the student (difficult travel, cultural or political sensitivities)
  • Stakeholders in the project (who is the project serving?) and whether these stakeholders, if relevant for the proposed project, may be vulnerable (e.g., refugees, victims of torture, children)

(8)  Research Question
The proposal should have a clearly stated purpose and research or policy question. This will focus the project and identify the scope of the work for the students.

(9)  Proposed Deliverables
The proposal should specify what you, the potential client, want to see in the final report. For example, the potential client wants a cost-benefit analysis or recommendations on how to improve water resource management in rural villages.

(10)  Assumptions and Special Considerations
If the project will involve working with vulnerable populations, culturally sensitive issues, or challenging environments, this section serves as the place to explain these aspects of the project. In order to identify assumptions, some questions that you may want to ask are:
  • Is a language other than English required for fieldwork, research or information? Will a translator be required?  What cross-cultural skills are needed?
  • Will students need to gain access to restricted information?
  • Are there deadlines or timing issues that students and faculty need to be aware of?

  • Are there any extra expenses involved in the project, such as fees?
  • Will students have to make extra preparations for international travel such as vaccinations, special forms of documentation and/or visas?

(11)  Evaluation Criteria
Identify how you will evaluate the students and their work after project completed. 

(12)  Audience
Identify who will use this report and how they will use it. For example, the report will go to the board of directors and be used to determine how the program is doing and how can it be improved.
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