In fieldwork practicum courses, students participate in weekly seminars and conduct related fieldwork at outside organizations. This fieldwork practicum course explores the legal and practical dimensions of policy making at the state level, with a focus on the role of governors and other state executives (e.g., attorneys general, legislators, secretaries of state). Students will participate in a two hour/week seminar and also undertake 15 hours/week of fieldwork with the National Governors Association, National Association of Attorneys General, National Conference of State Legislatures, or other state and local stakeholder group.
SEMINAR: This seminar will provide an overview of the constitutional underpinnings of federalism and the legal frameworks applicable to policy development and implementation (e.g., in healthcare, homeland security, emergency response, infrastructure and transportation); case studies on the challenges and opportunities of federal, state, and local cooperation; and practical guidance on the operation of governors’ offices and state agencies. It will also examine the role of the “Big Seven” associations in driving state and local interests at the federal level, and in facilitating the adoption of best practices across government. Students will be trained in written and oral communication for an audience of policymakers, and become skilled at distilling complex legal issues into actionable recommendations for executives. During the semester, students will hear from guest speakers who serve or have served in governors’ offices and state agencies, or who otherwise offer unique insight and expertise in topical issues. By the end of the course, students will understand how “good” public policy (ethical and effective) happens in the real world and the practical ways in which research/science, politics, ideology, tradition, and the law help to shape it.
FIELDWORK: Depending on students’ interests and the organization’s needs, students may be placed in NGA’s Center for Best Practices (Homeland Security & Public Safety Division) or one of the other “Big Seven” state/local associations, such as the National Conference of State Legislatures, National Association of Attorneys General, National District Attorneys Association, or Council of State Governments. Students will work with the organization’s staff and state officials to resolve legal questions and develop recommendations for state policymakers, such as: (1) writing a model cyber vulnerability disclosure policy for state agencies; (2) providing guidance on the legal implications of health reform; (3) constructing a model framework for addressing citizen privacy in homeland security policy; (4) identifying and analyzing novel legal issues raised by the deployment of the National Public Safety Broadband Network; (5) updating legal and procedural guidance for governors’ legal counsel; and (6) developing advocacy strategies for federal legislation that affects state interests.