Fall 2008 Classes

I pay a lot of money to go to school.  Part of that premium is having really good professors.  I’ve also benefited from getting a Yahoo! fellowship that lets me research stuff near and dear to me while getting a master’s.  Here are the classes I’m taking this fall:

MSFS-538 Small and Medium Enterprise Development
Taught by a career USAID foreign service officer, this class will help me understand the environment needed for successful scaling of startups to fast-growth businesses and how to duplicate that across cultures, societies, and countries.
“This course will explore small- and medium-enterprise (SME) development, addressing issues of innovation, scalable and sustainable solutions, and SME’s contribution to growth in developing countries and emerging markets. The course will include an introduction to the economics and dynamics of the sector and basic theory, and the opportunities and obstacles in SME growth. Through case studies, exposure to practitioners’ best practices, and an operational approach, the course will analyze what works and why as models for economic growth and poverty alleviation.”
MSFS-746 Workshop: Managing Development
This class is taught by a retired USAID officer who is now a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton.  In addition to learning project design and implementation, I’ll also get to do some consultancy work for Chemonics, which, along with DAI, is the biggest development consultant in the US.  I’ll be working in their Knowledge and Innovation division.
“Development management is a specialized management discipline focused on achieving social goals and it typically involves consensus building among diverse groups with differing values. Development managers need to work collaboratively with local groups to design, manage and evaluate projects, programs and policy reform activities. They may also be engaged to assess and strengthen local organizations that provide services to poor people. The ability to understand and respond to the special needs of women and vulnerable groups is central to development management.

“Drawing on current international “good practices” this graduate workshop provides students with practical tools, skills and methods for managing development and social change. The workshop addresses the management challenges faced by the international development agencies–and specifically, the role and skills of development managers–in enhancing development effectiveness. Combined with the Development Management Skills Clinics the workshop will provide students with a comprehensive, state-of-the practice–and highly marketable–skill set for launching their careers in international development. The course is also intended to provide students with a critical insight into their personal attitudes and biases in managing development and social change. Through a required consulting project students gain practical consulting skills and insight into how to influence (rather than control) change in a client setting.

“Course topics include:
• development management as a unique management discipline
• building and managing teams
• gender analysis and social analysis
• assessing development project quality
• structuring project organizations
• developing monitoring and evaluation systems
• project scheduling and budgeting
• developing winning project proposals
• assessing and building organizational capacity
• planning and managing partnerships
• managing policy reform

“Using a variety of hands-on case material, experience-based assignments and team-based methods, students will address critical development management issues through work on a sampling of “live” projects in HIV/AIDS, environment, poverty alleviation, education and private sector development. Class discussions and assignments may be supplemented by several guest lectures by leading practitioners.

“Students also will complete a team-based consulting assignment in development management for a development agency in Washington, DC. Previous client agencies have included the World Bank, USAID and a variety of NGOs. Typical assignments may involve supporting a project design activity, designing a monitoring and evaluation system for a new program, conducting an organizational assessment, assessing a development project portfolio, completing a gender analysis, or supporting a strategic planning activity.”

INAF-450 African Development
Taught by Callisto Madavo, a native Zimbabwean and former vice president of the Africa Region at the World Bank.  It’s an undergrad level course but I’ve been told the professor is fantastic.
“The course will survey the development of the Sub-Saharan African economies since independence. The focus will be on economic development, but aims to place the subject in its broader political, social and cultural context. The approach will be historical: starting with a brief review of the colonial inheritance, then covering the largely optimistic period to the early 1970s, moving on to the problems and stagnation of the 1980s, followed by the slow recovery of the 1990s which has accelerated in the first half of this decade. The survey will conclude by looking at where Africa is today and the prospects going forward. The course will explore key issues and themes that marked each period and try to piece together an overall story concerning where African economies have been and where they are going.”
SEST-540 Al Qaeda and the Global Jihad
I’ve been dreaming of taking this course ever since I first thought of applying to Georgetown and read the professor’s (Michael Scheuer) book “Imperial Hubris”.  He was the former head of the CIA’s bin Laden unit prior to 9/11 and has written an excellent book recently on US foreign policy’s failure to address contemporary problems.  He has since renamed the course to something like “Assessing the Enemy”, which in my opinion is more appropriate towards the current dynamic ecosystem of terrorist organizations.
“This course is specifically designed to enable the student to understand, think, plan and react like al-Qaeda’s leaders. In studying Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, the course will make an attempt to put them, and the threat they and their allies pose, into the context of contemporary international affairs, Islamic history, the traditional tenets of U.S. foregn policy and the nature of war. In short, the non-traditional national security threat posed by al-Qaedaism will be examined as if it were not that different than a traditional national security threat from a nation-state.”
CCTP-732-01 What’s Shaping the Global Internet Society?
Taught by Michael Nelson, Al Gore’s technology and science advisor when he helped pass legislation facilitating commercializing the Internet.  He then moved to the White House when Clinton was elected, and then worked at IBM for ten years as director of internet technology and strategy.
“The Internet continues to evolve rapidly. How it evolves will affect the way individuals communicate and use information, which will profoundly change both business and society.

“This course will examine how new technologies, government policies, standards decisions, business practices, and different world views are shaping how the Internet is being used in countries around the world. The course will begin with an examination how Internet policy, telecommunications policy, information policy, national security policy, copyright policy, trade policy, and other government policies can foster or hinder the development and use of Internet. It will also examine the impact of the Internet on business models and culture.

“The class will discuss a number of case studies in which national governments, the European Union, and the United Nations have adopted policies or policy recommendations affecting the Internet. Among the case studies likely to be examined:
1) The OECD’s Summit on the Future of the Internet Economy
2) The adoption of the IPv6 standard
3) The Digital Millennium Copyright Act
4) The EU’s Directive on Data Retention
5) The UN’s Internet Governance Forum
6) The evolution of ICANN
7) The development of Internationalized Domain Names
8) Allocation and regulation of wireless spectrum (esp. unlicensed spectrum)
9) Internet censorship in China
10) Development of authentication systems
11) Regulations regarding Net Neutrality and network management
12) The build-out of fiber backbones around and in Africa
13) Development of “cloud computing”

“Professor Nelson was personally involved in debates about many of these issues during the years he spent working with Al Gore in the Senate and at the White House, while at the FCC, and as Director for Internet Technology and Strategy at IBM.

“For each case study, teams of students will consider the different parties involved and their positions and examine how they pursued their objectives. Each team will provide the background that their fellow students need to better understand technology trends, the impact of policy on technology adoption, and how technology is shaped by (and shapes) society and culture—skills that will be valuable whether working in business, in government, or in research. No final paper will be required.”