HKS Finishes Policy Analysis Exercise

Second-year Master’s in Public Policy candidates at the Harvard Kennedy School completed their Policy Analysis Exercises earlier this month, addressing real-world problems for a variety of national and international clients.

The Policy Analysis Exercise is intended to provide a “capstone experience” integrating the skill set and knowledge cultivated through the Public Policy curriculum, according to Debra E. Isaacson, director of the Master’s in Public Policy program.

“The goal is to give students an opportunity to go out into the world and to solve the world’s most intractable problems,” she added.

Exploring a diverse set of topics individually or in groups, students said they were eager to make full use of the opportunity to translate theory into practical application.

Jonathan H. Faull, a second-year Master’s in Public Policy candidate, designed his Policy Analysis Exercise to evaluate the practices employed by the European Investment Bank in the Mediterranean region.


“It was a very memorable experience to engage critically and creatively with a set problems that have real implications,” Faull said of his experience traveling to Jordan and Tunisia. While he was there, he said he and his partner had the opportunity to meet with officials, delegation members, and members of industry associations.

According to Faull, his analysis was designed to critique the EIB’s practices and ultimately offer the organization specific recommendations.

“Every indication that we have is that the EIB is appreciative of our recommendations and that they will consult them in the future,” Faull said, adding that he and his partner may present their findings to the management of the EIB this summer.

Through his Policy Analysis Exercise, Mark S. Bell, another second-year Master’s in Public Policy candidate, offered recommendations to the U.S. Department of Defense concerning U.N. Resolution 1540, a resolution that created guidelines to curtail the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Noting that “it was nice to do something that was developing in real time,” Bell noted the uniqueness of the Policy Analysis Exercise.

“I think the combination of doing academically rigorous work with work that has the potential to have a real impact on policy is key to everything that gets done at the Kennedy School,” Bell said.

“It’s not something you really get in undergraduate or post-graduate courses anywhere else,” he added.

Bell said he hopes to present his findings with his partner to the Department of Defense in May, and that his Policy Analysis Exercise will continue to play a role in the future of the debate.

Another second-year Master’s in Public Policy candidate, Antoniya M. Owens, chose to analyze the demographics of the teaching workforce across the state of Massachusetts in order to forecast what areas may suffer teacher shortages in the future.

Owens presented her findings to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education last month, and expressed gratitude that the Kennedy School provides the opportunity for in-depth policy analysis.

“I’m definitely glad that the Policy Analysis Exercise was offered. It synthesizes and encapsulates all the work that you yourself, as a student, are capable of doing,” she said.

—Staff writer Andrew Z. Lorey can be reached at