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Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS)

At the Nexus of Policy and Practical Application

Each year, second-year students in the International Development (IDEV) Program at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) are eligible to apply to take part in the IDEV Practicum, an applied learning experience that pairs student teams with organizations around the world working to tackle important global development issues.

In past years, practicum teams have worked on a diverse range of needs, from water management in Sri Lanka fishing communities to promoting gender equality in Egypt to a sanitation project in India, and more. This year, two of the six practicum teams are partnering with the World Wildlife Fund.

“The International Development Practicum at Johns Hopkins SAIS gives students an invaluable, hands-on experience to work with an international development organization and address an important development challenge. Participants often say their practicum work was one of the most important experiences they had in graduate school,” says Professor Deborah Bräutigam, who directs the IDEV Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS. “These are not research projects. Practicum students address practical problems that the client needs to solve.”


Professor Deborah Brӓutigam, Johns Hopkins SAIS

Bräutigam introduced the practicum to the curriculum four years ago and now continues to help line up clients and funding. Two major grants help cover costs such as airfare for students, and clients cover local expenses while the students are visiting.

Student participation is competitive. Only half of the program’s second-year students pursuing the International Development concentration are selected to participate.

Under the guidance of a faculty adviser, student teams plan field work, perform stakeholder analyses, and collaborate with their client to develop the scope of their work during the fall semester. During the winter break teams travel around the world to meet with their clients and conduct field work. The project culminates with a final development project plan produced in the spring semester. One of last year’s teams worked for a Chinese organization that sought to make its industrial zone in Nigeria more sustainable. The client was so enthusiastic about the work of the students that its representatives traveled to the school’s Washington, D.C., campus to attend the team’s presentation of its experience, research, and recommendations.

In addition to leading the practicum and the IDEV Program, Bräutigam is a globally renowned expert on China-Africa relations and directs the school’s China-Africa Research Initiative (CARI). The initiative promotes evidence-based understanding of China-Africa relations by examining, for example, Chinese loans to Africa, investments in the continent, and the role of Chinese companies in Africa.

Through experiences such as the IDEV Practicum, Johns Hopkins SAIS students learn to connect the theoretical study of economics, international relations, and regional studies to the practical work of policymakers to gain the knowledge, skills, and expertise to address complex global issues.

Master’s Degrees offered: See Program Directory