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Cornell University Cornell Brooks Public Policy

Public Engagement

Public Engagement: the Heart of the MPA Program

Our students often say that they’re drawn to the MPA Program because of the emphasis we place on experiential learning. And graduates regularly list their Public Engagement experiences as key in helping them develop the skill set they need to be successful in their future careers.

In addition to internship and externship opportunities, as well as numerous other courses with experiential learning components, we offer two intensive consulting courses that are client-based. Both are designed as service-learning partnerships. Students engage with government and nonprofit client-organizations to work on pro bono consulting projects. Clients may be locally, nationally, or internationally based.

Consulting for Government and Nonprofit Organizations

In your first or second year, you will be introduced to the basics of consulting. This course, PADM 5900—Consulting for Government and Nonprofit Organizations, includes a service-learning component, which will give you the opportunity to consult with a government or nonprofit client on a pro-bono basis either locally, nationally or internationally. It is not uncommon for clients to offer Brooks MPA Students internships or ongoing consultancies at the conclusion of the engagement.

Domestic or International Capstone

In your second year, you may take a Capstone course with either a domestic or international focus. This is an in-depth and rigorous semester-long program. With a consultancy team that includes your classmates, you will help a domestic or international client solve well-defined policy or management problems. The projects are multidisciplinary, which will allow you to draw on the resources of students and faculty across the University.

Each project offers the opportunity for you to hone your abilities as a public affairs professional. Your team will produce a professional report for your client in addition to presenting an oral presentation. By the end of these experiences, you will have developed skills in real-world project management, evaluation, consulting, teamwork and leadership. The Capstone course fulfills the Professional Writing/Analysis requirement for the MPA degree.

Representative Capstone and Consulting Clients

Representative Capstone and Consulting Clients

1492 Consulting Group, Ithaca, NY
AFL-CIO, Washington, DC
Africa Impact Group, West Africa
Alternatives Federal Credit Union, Ithaca NY
American Red Cross, Ithaca, NY
Appalachian Rural Poverty Initiative, Georgia
Astana International Finance Centre Authority, Kazakhstan
Bekondo Foundation, Cameroon
The Belize Zoo, Belize
California Coalition for Clean Air, Sacramento, CA
Cancer Resource Center of the Finger Lakes, Ithaca, NY
Cayuga Medical Center, Ithaca, NY
Centre d’Education Inclusif (CEI), Haiti
City of Ithaca Department of Human Resources, Ithaca, NY
City of Ithaca Department of Planning and Urban Renewal, Ithaca, NY
City of Ithaca Department of Public Works, Ithaca, NY
City of Ithaca Downtown Partnership, Ithaca NY
CityScience Outdoor Exploration and Learning, NYC
Community Foundation of Tompkins County, Ithaca, NY
Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY
Cornell Prison Education Program, Ithaca, NY
Cornell United Way, Ithaca, NY
Cornell University International Students and Scholars Office, Ithaca, NY
Cornell University Sustainability, Ithaca, NY
Danby Fire District, Danby, NY
Dialogistica, Venezuela, US
Early Childhood Collaborative, Ithaca, NY
Economic Development Administration, NYC
Education Fund, New York City and Washington, DC
Educate the Children, Inc., Kathmandu, Nepal
Egbok Mission, Cambodia
Finger Lakes ReUse, Ithaca, NY
Friends of Warm Hearth, Armenia
Fundación Quirós Tanzi, Costa Rica
Global Livingston Institute, Denver, CO
Greater Hudson Valley Family Health Center, NY
Green Empowerment, Port Au Prince, Haiti
Greenhouse Gas Management Institute (GHGMI), Washington, DC
Health and Human Services Coalition of Tompkins County, Ithaca, NY
Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia & Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Ithaca Area Wastewater Treatment Facility, Ithaca, NY
Ithaca City School District, Ithaca, NY
Ithaca Public Education Initiative, Ithaca, NY
Ithaca Youth Bureau, Ithaca, NY
INOMA Educational Products, Mexico
Kandangas, The Netherlands
Lake Placid/North Elba Community Development Board, NY
Madison County Agricultural Economic Development, NY
Mutual Housing Association of Tompkins County, Ithaca, NY
Namaste Montessori School, Ithaca, NY
Namgyal Monastery, Ithaca, NY
Nature Iraq, Tigris River, Iraq
New Orleans Recovery Project for the 9th Ward, New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Redevelopment Authority (NOLA), LA
New York Housing Authority (NYCHA), NYC
Pader Girls Academy, Northern Uganda
Paleontological Research Institute/Museum of the Earth, Ithaca, NY
Pipeline 4 Progeress, Corning, NY
Save the Children, La Paz, Bolivia
Sciencenter, Ithaca, NY
Stop the Silence, Glenn Dale, MD
St. Paul Catholic University Development Studies Center, Peru
Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM), Mysore, Karnataka State, India
Thrive, Nicaragua
Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, Ithaca, NY
Tomkins County Department of Administration, Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County, Ithaca, NY
Tompkins County Office for the Aging, Ithaca, NY
Transparency International, Berlin, Germany
Upstate New York Safety Coalition Task Force, NY
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC
U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), Washington, DC
Village at Ithaca, Ithaca, NY
Volcker Alliance, New York, NY
Water Resources Institute, Ithaca, NY
YMCA, Ithaca, NY

CIPA alumni in NYC

Public Engagement Through Capstone and Consulting

Laurie Miller, Associate Director for the MPA Program’s Public Engagement Program and Capstone instructor, shares information about the Capstone and Consulting courses.

Capstone Program

student working with Volcker AllianceProject Spotlight: The Volcker Alliance

The Volcker Alliance is a nonpartisan nonprofit focused on addressing the challenges of effective execution of public policies and rebuilding public trust in government. They have an ongoing partnership with the MPA Program to work on their Truth and Integrity in Government Finance project.

Explore more Capstone projects

CIPA students in Lake PlacidConsulting Client: Lake Placid/North Elba Development Commission

A Consulting for Nonprofit and Government Organizations team worked on a mapping project for the Lake Placid/North Elba Development Commission. They created a consumer guide to eight select trails.

Client website

Laurie Miller talkingInformation for Prospective Engagement Clients/Partners

Questions about courses, programs? Contact our Associate Director for Public Engagement Laurie Miller.

capstone brochure coverCapstone Guide

Our students often say that they’re drawn to our Master of Public Administration program because of the emphasis we place on experiential learning.

Get more details on the Cornell Brooks School MPA Capstone and student spotlights in our Guide to the Cornell Brooks School MPA Capstone & Public Engagement.