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PPA 190: Internship and Thesis Seminar
Pomona College, Fall 2022
Prof. David Menefee-Libey

Fridays at 1:15 - 4:00 pm
Carnegie 109

Office: Carnegie 4.
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:00-noon, Thursdays 2:00-4:00, and by appointment.
e-mail: DML@pomona.edu or DJML4747@pomona.edu (mail sent to either of these ends up in the same account)

A live version of this syllabus is available online at https://DML.sites.pomona.edu/PPASeminar.html

Find a list of sites with course-related information, data, and research at https://DML.sites.pomona.edu/DMLresources.html.. (Note: there are a lot of links on that 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 four objectives:

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 a series of analytic questions that will guide our discussions.

Most weeks, I will ask you to reflect on one or another specific aspect of your internship experience or the organization you're working for. I'll ask you to post those reflections on the Sakai Commons the night before we meet each week, and we'll discuss your postings during the seminar.

B. Thesis Prospectus

Second, the seminar will help you prepare to research and write a prospectus for your PPA senior thesis. The thesis is a year-long project, and this semester we will work through several "scaffolded" assignments focused on different parts of your project work, culminating in the Thesis Prospectus you will submit in December. You will return to complete the project in the spring. Your PPA thesis will demonstrate

In writing it, you will engage your home department or program's faculty, build on at least one literature within your field, and experience the challenges and joys of original research.

C. The Field of Public Policy Analysis

Third, the seminar will give you opportunities 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 and discussions of your internship, your thesis project, and several presentations by real-world policy practitioners.

D. Presenting your work through writing and speaking

Finally, this course fulfills the college's Speaking Intensive graduation requirement, and we will focus on that challenge in direct and specific ways. You will have many opportunities this semester and next spring to gain experience presenting your ideas and research to peers, mentors, and supervisors orally as well as in writing. I will give you written feedback and guidance on your presentations this semester, and encourage you to draw on this aspect of the course as you prepare for the PPA Thesis Conference in April.

Books and materials

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 seminar meetings.

Back to Table of Contents

PPA 190: Internship and Thesis Seminar
Pomona College, Fall 2022
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, and I'll give each group written feedback.

3. Sakai "Commons" postings on your internship (20%). Most weeks, the syllabus includes a question about the organization you're working for (or, if you were in DC last spring, the organization you worked for there). Post your response in the Sakai "Commons" folder for that week.

4. Submit a log to Hilary LaConte of your internship hours, signed by your supervisor, for each month by the 5th of the following month. This assignment must be completed for you to receive credit for the course. Late submissions will lead to a grade penalty for the semester, because they disrupt our ability to monitor your progress this semester.

5. Four short papers (35%)

4. Thesis prospectus, due Dec 12 (25%). This seminar begins your year-long work researching and writing your PPA thesis. The prospectus is the culmination of the first stages of that work. In collaboration with your colleagues and us, you will pick a topic, find faculty readers, and develop a a paper that includes:

  • A clear research question with some explanation of its importance;
  • Intended audience(s): who they are, and why and how will you communicate with them through an academic project;
  • A partial review of the research literature in which others have addressed this or closely related questions, (supplemented if appropriate by a consideration of public debate about the issue), followed by a correctly formatted bibliography of sources;
  • A research design and work plan of how you will investigate your question, the data you will gather, the method you will use to analyze it, and how you'll respond to potential ethical issues;
  • A description of your qualifications to carry out this plan (prior related courses? reseach papers or projects? jobs or internships?);
  • 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.
  • 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 format for the name of the electronic file, so that I can easily distinguish your paper from dozens of others after I download them all: PPASeminar.[Paper#][prospectus].LastName.doc, as in PPASeminar.FieldNotes.Arbery.doc. This may seem picky and trivial, but I'll really appreciate you doing it because I'll receive so many papers this semester that it's easy for me to lose track of papers the ones that aren't named this way. Please, also submit your paper as an MS Word-compatible document (not Apple Pages, Google Doc, or PDF), so I can insert comments into the document file. Any word processor you use will let you save your file in this format.

    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 ours 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 have reserved Carnegie 110 from 3:00 to 5:00 every Sunday afternoon for the whole semester. Partly, it's a help session: I'll make appointments for at least the first hour to meet one-on-one with students in my classes about their papers, research, thesis projects, and internship issues. Partly, it's just a supportive study space: all students are welcome, and you can stay any or all of that time to work on your projects and classes with other PPA and Politics students.

    2. The Library: Though most students do most of their research online, alone, unassisted, the Claremont Colleges actually has a physical 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 an entire resource page for students in Public Policy Analysis courses that I link to in the online version of this syllabus. 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. Some 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 and any other research project you do.

    4. The Center for Speaking, Writing, and the Image (formerly The Writing Center) will open at full capacity after the second week of the semester, but will be holding limited appointments and drop-in hours as soon as classes begin. Writing and Speaking Partners meet one-on-one with students to talk about their work and provide feedback at any stage of their preparation process. Trained to think deeply about written, oral, and visual rhetoric and communication, these student peers facilitate conversations about everything from ID1 papers to senior theses, lab reports to creative writing, giving presentations to developing strategies for reading and engaging more deeply and confidently in class discussion. Jenny Thomas, Asst. 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 onto the Portal and go to Academics - Writing Center or email writing.center@pomona.edu. They offer both in-person and virtual appointments, and have regular drop-in hours in SCC 148.

    5. The Quantitative Skills Center (QSC) provides academic support to Pomona College students in courses that feature a large degree of quantitative and/or scientific reasoning through our QSC Partners Program. QSC partners meet one-on-one with students to provide support for a variety of Pomona courses for course specific help. The QSC also offers non-course specific help in general quantitative skills and offers consultations for projects and theses involving quantitative methods. Additionally, Dr. Travis Brown, Director of the QSC, and Dr. Dylan Worcester, Assistant Director of the QSC are available to meet with you regarding your success in STEM at Pomona College. To make an appointment at the QSC, please visit https://pomona.mywconline.com, or email qsc@pomona.edu.

    6. The Sage Fellows Peer Academic Coaching Program supports Pomona College students at all levels of their academic careers to build an efficient and flexible set of study skills. Our Sage Fellows provide students with semester-long academic support in time management, self-management, procrastination, test preparation, note-taking, and reading strategies. They work with students individually to assess their strengths and needs to develop a personalized action plan. To make an appointment with a Sage Fellow, please visit https://www.pomona.edu/administration/sage-fellows-peer-academic-coaches to submit a meeting request form. Additionally, Dr. Hector Sambolin, Jr., Associate Dean for Academic Success and Assessment, is available to meet with students wishing to discuss their academic success at Pomona College.

    7. 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 the current state of the world, 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.

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    PPA 190: Internship and Thesis Seminar
    Pomona College, Fall 2022
    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. I'll let you know in advance, and I'll post the changes in a changed online syllabus.
    -- An asterisk (*) means the a copy of the reading is posted on Sakai. Let me know if you don't have access to Sakai.

    Most meetings of the seminar will have at least two istinct parts, related to A. Your internships, and B. Preparation for writing your senior thesis. We'll also have occasional presentations by policy practitioners from outside the college. We'll take at least one break during the seminar every week.

    Week 1, September 2: First meeting

    Introductions and norms
    » Read (in class) *DML, "Class Discussion Norms"
    » Read (in class) *Bartholomae and Petrosky, "Reading With and Against the Grain."

    A. Internships
    » Internship placements and logistics;
    » The importance of personal safety on all dimensions.
    » Plans for this part of our seminar agenda, including Commons postings responding to weekly questions.

    B. Senior Thesis
    » Read (in class) *PPA Prospectus and Senior Thesis Guide 2022-23"
    » Assigning groups for Thesis Review presentations. Instructions for the groups are in the "Course Assignments" section above.
    » Zotero, Part 1: getting it installed on your computer and linked to your browser and word processor.

    Week 2, September 9:

    A. Internships
    » 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 recent political developments in the US 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. 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.
    » Before seminar, read: *"PPA Prospectus and Senior Thesis Guide, 2022-23"
    » Discussion: What a thesis project is, how to find thesis "readers," and how to lay the groundwork for doing the work.

    Week 3, September 16:

    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. 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/
    » Report from Thesis Reading Group 1.
    » Discussion: beginning to identify possible research questions. Be ready to write a first-draft research question on the whiteboard by the end of class today.
    » Zotero, Part 2. In class reading: *DML, "Annotated Bib Helpsheet." I'll show you how to annotate a bibliography entry for the 3-item annotated bibs due next week.

    Week 4, September 23:

    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. Senior Thesis
    » 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.
    » Come to seminar ready to write your current draft research question on the whiteboard. (We'll do this every week from now on.)
    » Before seminar, read Lipson, ch. 3, "Taking Effective Notes and Avoiding Plagiarism"
    » Report from Thesis Reading Group 2.
    » Due to be posted on Sakai today by 5:00: your 3-entry annotated bibliography

    Week 5, September 30:

    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. Senior Thesis
    » Before seminar, read: Lipson, ch. 4, "Refining Your Topic, Writing a Proposal, and Beginning Research." [Connect this with your use of Zotero!]
    » In seminar: research design exercise in groups
    » Report from Thesis Reading Group 3

    Week 6, October 7:

    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?

    B. Senior Thesis
    » Before seminar, read: Lipson, ch. 5, "What is Good Thesis Research?"
    » Before seminar, read: *DML, "Literature Review Helpsheet."
    » Re-read: "PPA Thesis Research & Writing Lessons Learned," passed on from the PPA Class of 2012
    » Report from Thesis Reading Group 4. We're more than 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 14:

    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. Senior Thesis
    » Before seminar, read: *Dave Harris, "Writing a Literature Review," ch. 7 of Literature Review and Research Design: A Guide to Effective Research Practice (Routlege, 2020), 137-155.
    » 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/
    » Report from Thesis Reading Group 5.
    » Discussion: What is a prospectus? What is research design?

    Week 8, October 21:

    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. Senior Thesis
    » Report from Thesis Reading Group 6.
    » Research Ethics. Before seminar, enroll in and complete two units of the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI Program) course on the Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR-Basic) on Research Involving Human Subjects.
    » 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.
    » Due today by 5:00: your Two-page Research Design memo (Call it PPASeminar.ResearchDesign.YourName.docx.)

    Week 9, October 28:

    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. 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).
    » Before seminar, read: Lipson, Appendix 2, "Footnotes 101."
    » Discuss: Using Zotero to handle citations in your literature review, which is due in two weeks. Which format to use?

    Week 10, November 4:

    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. Senior Thesis
    » Write your research question on the board again when you arrive. Then write the school of thought in the research literature that is most important for your thesis.
    » Bring a rough draft of your literature review for peer review during the seminar.

    Week 11, November 11:

    A. Internships
    » Check-ins, thinking about finishing up and leaving your internship.

    B. 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.
    » Due today by 5:00: your Literature Review. Cite a minimum of 8 scholarly articles, reports, or books.

    Week 12, November 18:

    A. Internships
    » Reflections on your internships at this point? Any common themes?

    B. Senior Thesis
    » More on the prospectus and research design: How to develop a work plan and draft chapter outline? How might you go about developing some "initial findings" from your research, for inclusion in your Prospectus?

    Week 13, November 25: Thanksgiving Break, no class

    Week 14, December 2: Last seminar meeting

    A. Internships
    » Final reflections on your internships

    B. Senior Thesis
    » Finishing up your Prospectus

    Due by 5:00 pm Monday, December 12:
    » Thesis abstract "signed" by readers
    » Prospectus
    » Final internship hours documentation

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    Last modified: September 1, 2022