Twenty-two students took advantage of the opportunity to have an impact in their field this spring while still enrolled at the Middlebury Institute, completing their degree requirements through the International Professional Service Semester (IPSS) program.
The IPSS program places students in internship and consultancy positions throughout the world in organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and the World Trade Organization. The program also has a substantial academic component; participants are required to undertake projects that apply knowledge from their degrees and that benefit their host organizations. Throughout the semester students receive feedback from their peers and from their faculty mentor, and eventually present their findings to colleagues within their organization.
This year’s cohort of IPSS students includes participants from four different degree programs—International Environmental Policy, International Policy and Development, Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies, and Public Administration—working in six countries in fields ranging from conflict resolution to watershed management. A sampling of four IPSS participants offers a cross-section of the types of placements and projects will have completed by their graduation later this month:
Reducing Marine Debris
Emma Tonge MAIEP ’16 worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in Oakland, California, researching how source reduction laws are addressing marine debris by looking at how bans on plastic bags and other single use products are helping to keep trash out of the ocean. At the NOAA’s request, she focused specifically on laws implemented on the state and local level on the West Coast.
Investigating Small Arms Control
Jamie Stanton MPA ’16 relocated to Geneva, Switzerland to work with the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). For her project, Jamie developed community-level indicators that will help determine the link between small arms control measures and their impact on the community. In the course of her research, she looked specifically at two case studies: 1) Weapons and Ammunition Management in Somalia and 2) Gender and Small Arms Control in Libya. Both of these studies stem from ongoing UNIDIR projects.
Miranda Salinas MAIPS ’16 was one of several IPSS fellows working in Washington, D.C. In her work with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, she research what exactly it means to be a peacebuilder. Because there is no official certification or degree that qualifies one as a peacebuilder, Miranda conducted interviews to determine whether or not this group of professionals has some other common, shared set of traits.
Examining Violence and Development
Elin Orre MANPTS ’16 worked for the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs, Conventional Arms Branch (UNODA CAB) in New York, NY. Her project involved the evaluation of the Sustainable Development Goal 16, which aims “to significantly reduce all forms of violence, and work with governments and communities to find lasting solutions to conflict and insecurity.” Her project was intended to help define the scope of goal 16 and explore how the indicator should be assessed.
These students and their IPSS colleagues are at the nexus of a mutually beneficial relationship between the Institute and external organization partners, lending the organizations talented junior professionals to work on specific, timely projects, while offering student participants a unique opportunity to apply everything they have been learning in the classroom to real-world problems and professional situations.
[With reporting by Ariel Watkins MPA '17]