The International Policy Student Association (IPSA) of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy is currently preparing and coordinating its 2015 International Economic Development Program (IEDP) policy research trip. Students in the program study key policy issues in a student selected developing country, culminating with a research trip to the country for a hands-on experience of its economic and policy characteristics.
For IEDP 2015, students selected Brazil, a vibrant emerging market democracy replete with relevant policy issues. A multidisciplinary group of 22 Policy, Law, and Natural Resource and Environment students are responsible for developing the course structure and planning the trip to Brazil. To support the ten-day experiential research trip, IPSA will raise money for transportation, lodging, and other expenses. This funding will come from institutions within the University of Michigan, outside foundations, and private companies.
While in Brazil, IEDP participants will hold meetings with approximately 20 key stakeholders, including representatives from the private, public, and non-governmental sectors. Former U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Melvyn Levitsky, will serve as faculty advisor, lending his professional expertise and regional contacts. By observing the political, cultural, and social environment of the country first-hand, participants will gain a deeper understanding of the circumstances faced by Brazilian policymakers.
IEDP presents an opportunity for students to apply tools learned in the classroom to real world problems facing policy practitioners. In addition to experiential learning, participants acquire professional skills through the student-run nature of the program. IEDP is developed, organized, and implemented by the students in two tiers of teams: planning and policy committees. The planning committees coordinate the course and trip logistics, finances, contacts, and documentation. Students simultaneously research policy interests of their choice within the policy committees.
Policy Focus Areas
As an emerging market that is already the world’s seventh largest economy, Brazil must face problems inherent to those of both developed and developing nations. This unique position provides IEDP 2015 the opportunity to explore policy issues facing a prominent emerging market. Brazil’s contentious presidential election, recent economic recession and prominent position in the international spotlight as host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, make IEDP perfectly timed to explore multiple policy topics currently affecting the development of Brazil.
Policy Focus Areas will include:
- Economic development
- Social welfare programs
- Environmental issues
- Urban planning
These will be narrowed and further specified in the future.
While students will gain invaluable hands-on experience, they will also produce reports, contribute to social media and host a public presentation drawing upon their research and experience in the field. In addition to an in-depth report concentrated on a policy focus area, participants will also share policy analysis and recommendations with stakeholders in Brazil. Students will also regularly be contributing to Twitter, Instagram and the IEDP blog to bring awareness of the group’s work to a larger audience. At the end of the semester, students will host a symposium to present their findings to the University of Michigan community.