PPA 190: Internship and Thesis Seminar
Pomona College, Fall 2020
Prof. David Menefee-Libey

Fridays at 12:45 - 3:45 pm (California time)
via Zoom (address on MyPomona portal and course Sakai page)

Office: via Zoom (address on course Sakai page). Carnegie is closed to students until campus evacuation ends.
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:00-noon, Thursdays 2:00-4:00, and by appointment. Signup via Google doc link from course Sakai page.
e-mail: DJML4747(at)pomona(dot)edu, DMenefee(at)pomona(dot)edu, or David_Menefee-Libey(at)pomona(dot)edu (mail sent to any of these ends up in the same account)

Access a live version of this syllabus online at https://pages.pomona.edu/~djml4747/PPASeminar.html

Find a list of sites with course-related information, data, and research at https://pages.pomona.edu/~djml4747/DMLresources.html.. (Note: there are a lot of links on this page, and I do my best to keep them up to date. Please let me know if you run into a dead link, or if you have a suggestion of something I should add.)

Table of Contents for This Syllabus:
Go to Course Description and Goals
Go to Course Requirements, Evaluations, and Deadlines
Go to Class Schedule and Assignments

Course Description and Goals

This course is a practicum in connecting ideas and action. There are three objectives:

  1. Making the most of your internship, both experientially and analytically;
  2. Reflecting on and consolidating your learning in the PPA major; and
  3. Further refining your research and presentation skills to start writing your senior thesis.

Each week we will spend some time on each of these.

A. The Internship

First, the seminar will enable you to be more constructively engaged in and critically analytical about your internship. You will read, write, and talk about your internships in the contexts of courses you have had in your concentration in Public Policy Analysis, competing ideas about professionalism, and readings from several of the disciplines represented in the PPA program.

I'll ask you to keep field notes about the work you're doing in your internship placement. In seminar, we'll talk about a sequence of questions I'll ask you to write about briefly and post on Sakai.

B. The Field of Public Policy Analysis

Second, the seminar will give you the opportunity to synthesize your own thinking and learning about the field of Public Policy Analysis in a liberal arts setting. We will do that through readings, discussions, and writing a policy memo. One major topic of our discussions will be "professionalism": its many meanings, forms in the field of public policy analysis, and critiques.

C. Thesis Prospectus

Third, the seminar will help you prepare to research and write a prospectus for your PPA senior thesis. The prospectus will show your preparation for thesis work next spring. A PPA thesis must demonstrate

In writing it, you will engage your home department's faculty, at least one literature within your field, and experience the challenges and joys of original research. Through presentations in this seminar and at our thesis conference next semester, you will also gain experience presenting your ideas and research to peers, mentors, and supervisors.

I have ordered one book for the seminar through Huntley Bookstore:

I will also post and assign a substantial number of readings on Sakai (which I will mark with an *asterisk), through links to the web, or as "handouts" during our Zoom meetings.

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PPA 190: Internship and Thesis Seminar
Pomona College, Fall 2020
Prof. David Menefee-Libey

Requirements, Evaluations, and Deadlines

To receive credit for the seminar, you must complete all of the following assignments.

1. Seminar participation (10% of the semester grade). The criteria for this grade in order of importance are:

2. Thesis review assignment (10%) Each group of 2-3 students will select and read a past PPA senior theses from the collection in the Carnegie library room, then make a ~15 minute presentation on the thesis they read, summarizing the author's

Each member of a group should read the entire thesis individually, and develop their own answers to these questions, along with notes on what they've learned from reading it. Each group's presentation should reflect the group's discussion – prior to the class meeting – of each individual's reading of the entire thesis. The group will lead a discussion with the class after their presentation.

3. Field Notes on internships (20%). The syllabus includes a weekly question about the organization you're working for.  Post a response in the Sakai "Commons" folder for that week (or, if you were in DC last spring, the organization you worked for there). I will also ask you to write 3 short (less than 500 words) field note reflections on some aspect of your internship, and post them in your Sakai Dropbox before the first seminar meeting each month for October, November, and December).

4. Submit a log of your internship hours signed by your supervisor for each month by the 5th of the following month. (We'll devise a way for you to get these to Hilary electronically.) This assignment is ungraded, but your field notes grade will be reduced if you miss any of these assignments.

5. Three short papers (40%)

4. Thesis prospectus (20%). The seminar will help you prepare to research and write your PPA senior thesis. In collaboration with your colleagues and us, you will pick a topic, find faculty readers, and develop a thesis prospectus.

A complete prospectus will include:

  • A clear research question;
  • Intended audience(s): who they are, and why and how will you communicate with them through an academic project;
  • A review of the research literature in which others have addressed this or closely related questions, supplemented if appropriate by a consideration of the work of public intellectuals and other commentators, followed by a correctly formatted bibliography of sources;
  • A research design and work plan of how you will investigate your question;
  • A description of your qualifications to carry out this plan (prior related coursework? specific experiences?);
  • Some preliminary findings from the first stages of your work, and a draft chapter outline of how you expect to organize your thesis; and
  • The names of two Claremont Colleges faculty members who have agreed to supervise your work (and to sign your prospectus form). At least one of your readers must be in your home discipline at the college in which you are enrolled.
  • Notes on deadlines and submitting written assignments:

    All written assignments must be submitted in your Sakai "dropbox" on the dates listed in the course schedule. (Please don't ask Sakai to send an email notifying me of your submission.)

    Important: When you upload a paper to Sakai, use the following protocol for the name of the electronic file, so that I can easily distinguish your paper from others after I download them: PPASeminar.[Paper#][Fieldnotes][prospectus].LastName.doc, as in PPASeminar.FieldNotes.Arbery.doc.

    To be eligible for Distinction in the Senior Exercise, students must meet all of the following requirements:

  • Submit signed documentation that they have completed their internship hours by the last day of the semester they take PPA 195;
  • Submit all assignments for the Internship and Thesis Seminar on time unless they have received an emailed exception from the instructor;
  • Submit their thesis rough draft on time; and
  • Earn an A or A- on their Senior Thesis.
  • Those who have met these requirements will be considered for Distinction on the basis of their performance in the internship, senior seminar, and thesis, with primary emphasis on the thesis.

    Academic collaboration and academic honesty: I hope you study with other people in the class, and discuss the substance of the course with them.  As you do that, I encourage you to read each other's paper drafts and to give advice to each other.  When you do that, acknowledge in a footnote those who have helped you.  If you draw on a specific idea from someone else, cite them specifically in a footnote, just as you would cite any source you find helpful.

    I also encourage you to read Pomona College's Academic Honesty Policy, which you learned about in your ID1 class and which you can find online in the college catalog. We actually do have an honor code, and it's important.


    1. Sunday Afternoon Study Space: I will set up a "Zoom room" from 3:00 to 5:00 on Sunday afternoons for the whole semester.  Partly, it's a help session for one-on-one conversations with students about their papers, research, thesis projects, and internship issues. Partly, it's just a supportive study space: students are welcome to stay any or all of that time to work on their projects and classes with other PPA and Politics students.

    2. The Library: Though most students do most of their research alone and unassisted, the Claremont Colleges actually has a library with amazing resources and a staff of trained research librarians who can be of tremendous assistance to you in your thesis work. One of these librarians, Mary Martin, has kindly created entire resource pages for students in the Politics and Public Policy Analysis courses that I link to in the online version of my syllabi. I urge you to start with those links, and to make an individual appointment with Ms. Martin or one of her colleagues. They can help you find things you would never otherwise find, and they can save you countless hours of unnecessary wandering on the Internet. Librarians can also help you with Zotero and with citation challenges.

    3. Zotero: Zotero is free, open-source, public domain bibliographic and citation software that works in most browsers and word processing programs. You download it from https://zotero.org, where you can also find links to instructional videos, faqs, problem-solving threads, and access to free cloud storage for your own bibliographic archive. If you haven't already installed Zotero on your own computer and started using it for research projects and papers, I'd strongly urge you to do it immediately. It will help you immensely with this class.

    4. The Writing Center: All writers need support and feedback on their work in progress. We strongly recommend that each of you whether you consider yourself a struggling writer or an expert seek that support and feedback as you complete writing assignments for this course. Each of the colleges has a Writing Center which provides students a community of experienced readers and writers, offering free, one-on-one consultations at any stage of the writing process - from brainstorming ideas to fine-tuning a draft. They also help with oral presentations. Pomona's Writing Center will open at full capacity after the second week of the semester, but will be holding limited hours as soon as classes begin. Additionally, Jenny Thomas, Assistant Director of College Writing and Language Diversity, offers specialized writing and speaking support for multilingual students navigating English as an additional language. To make an appointment with a Writing or Speaking Partner, please log on to the Portal and go to Academics > Writing Center, or contact them at writing.center@pomona.edu. All appointments will be made through the Portal as usual, will be online, and Writing and Speaking Partners will be flexible both about the mode of consultation (phone, Zoom, email, Google docs, etc.) and about their hours in order to accommodate time zone differences.

    5. The Quantitative Skills Center: Like the Writing Center, the QSC can be very helpful to PPA students. QSC peer tutors can help students across projects that involve data gathering and statistical analysis. They can help with many aspects of your project: research design, methodological issues, data sets, data analysis, and presentations of data through visuals, in writing, and in presentations.

    6. Accommodations: I welcome every student into my classroom, and am committed to the full inclusion of anyone who may need an accommodation based on the impact of disability including mental health, chronic or temporary medical conditions. Given our current online learning environment, I recognize that the challenges facing students are different and student accommodation needs may change. I encourage Pomona students who may need some accommodation in order to fully participate in this class to contact Pomona College's Accesibility Resources and Services office, or call the Dean of Students office at (909) 621-8017. (Students from the other Claremont Colleges should contact their home college's disability resources officer.) The Dean will review your concerns and determine, with you, what accommodations are necessary and appropriate. All discussions, information, and documentation of disability are confidential.

    Back to Table of Contents

    PPA 190: Internship and Thesis Seminar
    Pomona College, Fall 2020
    Prof. David Menefee-Libey

    Class Schedule and Assignments

    -- Readings for a day are listed below that day's date
    -- I will change some details of this as the semester progresses.
    -- An asterisk (*) means the a copy of the reading is posted on Sakai. Let me know if you do not have access to Sakai.

    Most meetings of the seminar will have three distinct parts, related to A. your internships, B. the field of Public Policy Analysis, and C. preparation for writing your senior thesis.

    Week 1, August 28: Introductions
    Introductions and norms
    >> Your name, major, current location, what you did last summer
    >> Your internship (last spring for DC folks, this semester for everyone else)
    >> Your concentration, policy interests, and possible thesis topics
    >> Returning to the norms discussions we've had in other classes, using the "DML, Class Discussion Norms" document posted in the Sakai Resources folder, and the Bartholomae and Petrosky excerpt posted there.
    A. Internships
    >> Plans for this part of our seminar agenda, including two kinds of weekly field notes: public (Commons, responding to weekly prompts) and private (Dropbox, based on observations and reflections).
    >> Internship placements and logistics;
    >> The importance of personal safety on all dimensions.
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Plans for this part of our seminar agenda: Public Policy Analysis and professionalism(s).
    >> The associated departments and their faculty liaisons;
    >> Planned events for fall semester.
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Plans for this part of our seminar agenda, starting with topics and building to a thesis prospectus.
    >> Zotero worshop and exercise, Part 1.

    Week 2, September 4:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, read: *Robert M. Emerson et al., Writing Ethnographic Fieldnotes (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1995), Ch 2, “In the Field: Participating, Observing and Jotting Notes,” pp. 17-38.
    >> Before seminar, post in Week 2 blog in Sakai "Commons" Less than 200 words on: What's the mission of the organization you're interning for? How, when and why was the organization founded? Is there an explicit mission statement? Has Covid affected that mission? Have political developments since the killing of George Floyd affected it? (Also to think about: Do employees understand and individually work toward fulfillment of the mission?)
    >> If you have not yet done so, please make sure Hilary has your Internship contract signed by your supervisor:
    >> In seminar: first impressions, then organizational missions.
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Discussion: based on your experience up to now, what do you think Public Policy Analysis is? Can you name a specific thing you've read, assignment you've done, or experience you've had that exemplifies public policy analysis for you? What do you tell other people PPA is?
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, Part I, “Getting Started,” to p. 27. Includes "How to Read This Book," "Introduction," and part of "Useful Nuts and Bolts."
    >> Before seminar, read: *“PPA Thesis Research & Writing Lessons Learned,” passed on from the PPA Class of 2012.
    >> Discussion: What a thesis project is, and how to lay the groundwork for doing it.
    >> Assigning groups for Thesis Review presentations. Instructions for the groups are in the “Course Assignments” section above.

    Week 3, September 11:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: What are the organization’s finances (assets, annual budget, major revenue sources, major expenses)? [Sources for this information can include annual reports, the organization’s website, the nonprofit reporting organization www.guidestar.com, which compiles the IRS Form 990 federal tax returns for nonprofit organizations, public budgets if you are working at a government agency, press reports (of grants, etc.), and employees or supporters of the organization (ask!).]
    >> In seminar: checking in, then organization finances.
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Before seminar, read: *Robert A. Heineman et al, The World of the Policy Analyst: Rationality, Values, and Politics, Third edition (Chatham House, 2002), Introduction and Chapter 1, "The Emergence of a Field," pp. 1-29.
    >> Discussion: the mainstream origins of public policy analysis as a field of inquiry and practice. Is this consistent with your prior introductions to PPA?
    >> Thinking about writing for policy analysis. Prep for 2-page Policy Memo, due October 16. In that memo, you will present an idea for a policy you'd like to see enacted and/or implemented at any level of government. (Something related to your thesis topic would be helpful to you, but lots of different policies would work.) Consider how courses you have taken (or parts of them) provide resources for this memo. For an excellent model, look at UNC Prof. Rebecca Kreitzer's assignment here: https://www.rebeccakreitzer.com/briefs/
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, Chapter 2, "Useful Nuts and Bolts," pp. 27-end.
    >> Before seminar, read: Raul Pacheco-Vega, “Narrowing the Research Thesis Topic,” July 15, 2017, posted on his blog at http://www.raulpacheco.org/2017/07/narrowing-the-research-thesis-topic/
    >> Discussion: identifying topics that interest you, finding readers, beginning to identify possible research questions. Be ready to type a first-draft research question into the Zoom chat by the end of class today.
    >> Zotero exercise, Part 2. I'll show you how to annotate a bibliography entry for the 3-item annotated bibs due next week.
    >> Question to begin thinking about: will you need IRB approval for your research?

    Week 4, September 18:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: Who works for the organization (both paid employees and volunteers), and how are they selected? How are they motivated to continue their work?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Before seminar, read *Iris Geva-May, “‘We Seem to Have Always Spoken in Prose . . .’ Policy Analysis as a Clinical Profession: Implications for Policy Analysis Practice and Instruction” The Policy Studies Journal, Vol. 35, No. 2 (May 2007), pp. 135-164.
    >> More on how to policy memo.
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read Lipson, ch. 3, “Taking Effective Notes and Avoiding Plagiarism”
    >> Before seminar, read Raul Pacheco-Vega, "Writing an Annotated Bibliography," April 28, 2017. Available online at http://www.raulpacheco.org/2017/04/writing-an-annotated-bibliography/
    >> Report from Thesis Reading Group 1.
    >> 3-entry annotated bib due posted on Sakai by 5:00 this afternoon.

    Week 5, September 25:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: Who are the "clients", "customers", “partners”, "constituencies," and competitors of the organization? Who do they consider valuable? How does the organization make its services known to and available to them?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Be ready to type your policy memo topic in the Zoom chat by the end of class.
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, ch. 4, “Refining Your Topic, Writing a Proposal, and Beginning Research.” [Connect this with your use of Zotero!]
    >> Report from Thesis Reading Group 2.

    Week 6, October 2:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: What is your organization's culture? Do people use symbols, heroes, slogans to express this culture? What is the decision-making culture? (command-and-control? committee? consensus?) Is culture implied or clearly expressed? Is there a gap between the formally declared culture and the informal culture of the organization?
    >> Also before seminar, post an entry of observations about your internship to your dropbox on Sakai. These observations can be about any aspect of your internship, for example reflections on knowledge and skills you are gaining relevant to your thesis, or your future work, or your personal work style or practices. Please post this as PPASeminar.FieldNotes.YourName.docx. When you do your next two entries (in November and December), add them to the end of this document, with clear markings showing the dates of each entry.
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, ch. 5, “What is Good Thesis Research?”
    >> Before seminar, read: *DML, “Literature Reviews: What I Mean and How I Do It,” 2014.
    >> Re-read: “PPA Thesis Research & Writing Lessons Learned,” passed on from the PPA Class of 2012
    >> Come to seminar ready to type your research question into the Zoom chat. (We'll do this every week from now on.)
    >> Report from Thesis Reading Group 3. We're about halfway through these reviews. Do you think about them any differently now than you did when we discussed the first one?
    >> Due today by 5:00: 8-entry annotated bibliography on your research topic.

    Week 7, October 9:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: How does your organization monitor conduct and secure compliance with its rules and norms?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Bring a rough draft of your policy memo to class for peer review.
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Report from Thesis Reading Group 4.
    >> In preparation for our meeting this week, interview a professor (preferably, one of your potential thesis readers) in your “home” discipline about whether there are standard approaches to literature reviews in your discipline. Ask her/him to point you at one or two refereed journal articles that exemplify one or another of these approaches.
    >> Before seminar, read: Raul Pacheco-Vega, “How to Undertake a Literature Review,” April 18, 2017, posted on his blog at http://www.raulpacheco.org/2017/04/how-to-undertake-a-literature-review/

    Week 8, October 16:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: For a particular project that interests you within your organization, what is the goal? Who is on the team? Are there alliances outside the organization? How does the project fit with the organization's mission? Where did it come from? How is it going? What inducements/constraints affect the project?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Policy memo due to be posted on Sakai by 5:00 today. (Call it PPASeminar.PolicyMemo.YourName.docx.)
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Report from Thesis Reading Group 5.
    >> Before seminar, read: Raul Pacheco-Vega, “Eight Sequential steps to Write a Research Paper From Start to Finish,” April 16, 2017, posted on his blog at http://www.raulpacheco.org/2017/04/8-tips-to-write-a-research-paper-from-start-to-finish-relatively-quick-and-easy/.
    >> Literature Reviews again: be prepared to discuss three research articles you intend to use in your thesis, and what they might contribute to your literature review.
    >> IRB issues: What is an IRB? Where did IRBs come from? How do they work for senior thesis research at the Claremont Colleges?

    Week 9, October 23:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: How would you evaluate the effectiveness/success of your organization? Could you use cost/benefit analysis? Ethical considerations? Evaluation outcomes compared with mission statement? Other methods? What indicators/metrics would you use?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, ch. 7, “Every Thesis Should Have a Thesis,” and ch. 8, “Planning and Prewriting: How Do They Help Your Thesis?”
    >> For fun, Before seminar, read: *Annie Lamott, “Shitty First Drafts,” from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life (New York, NY: Anchor, 1995).
    >> Bring a rough draft of your literature review for peer review during the seminar.
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, Appendix 2, "Footnotes 101."
    >> Discuss: Using Zotero to handle citations in your literature review, which is due next week. Which format to use?

    Week 10, October 30:
    A. Internships
    >> Before seminar, post in Sakai "Commons" less than 200 words on: How has Covid affected your organization? How well has it adapted?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Write your research question in the chat again. Then write the school of thought in the research literature that is most important for your thesis.
    >> What is a prospectus? What is research design?
    >> Literature Review due today by 5:00 pm. Cite a minimum of 8 scholarly articles, reports, or books.

    Week 11, November 6:
    A. Internships
    >> Check-ins, thinking about finishing up and leaving your internship.
    >> Also before seminar, post entry #2 of observations about your internship to your Dropbox on Sakai. Add them to the end of the document you posted in October, PPASeminar.FieldNotes.YourName.docx.
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> Before seminar, read: Lipson, ch. 15, “Thesis Time Schedule,” and Part VI, “Scheduling and Completing Your Thesis."
    >> Developing the research design, research plan, and timetable you'll include in your prospectus.

    Week 12, November 13:
    A. Internships
    >> Reflections on your internships at this point? Any common themes?
    B. Public Policy Analysis
    >> Reflections on your PPA majors?
    C. Senior Thesis
    >> More on the prospectus and research design? How might you go about developing some “initial findings” from your research, for inclusion in your Prospectus?

    Week 13, November 20: Last seminar meeting
    >> Post your third and final entry of observations about your internship to your Dropbox on Sakai. Add them to the end of the document you posted in October and November, PPASeminar.FieldNotes.YourName.docx.

    Due by 5:00 pm Friday, December 4:
    >> Thesis abstract "signed" by readers
    >> Prospectus
    >> Final internship hours documentation

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    Last modified: August 27, 2020