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International Development Program | SIS

IDP Skills Institutes

General Guidelines

Days/Times: 5:30 to 8:00 pm on Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm on Saturday and Sunday

Preparation: For many institutes, some advanced reading is required. This information will be posted on Blackboard.

Credits: Each institute is worth one credit hour of graduate level credit. All skills institutes are "pass/fail."

Eligible Students: All AU graduate students interested in international development who have completed either SIS-636, SIS-637, or the equivalent are eligible. Non-degree students should contact the Graduate Advising Office at (202) 885-1690 for information on registering for skills institutes. Non-degree students will be admitted only by permission of IDP and the instructor.

Cost: Students will be charged the current tuition rate for one graduate level credit hour. Note: If this is the only course taken, a Sports Center fee of $30 will be assessed. Skills Institutes may not be audited.

Registration: Register as you would for regular courses. Students may register or drop up to two days before the Institute begins, but since space is limited, early registration is strongly recommended.  Students are registered on a first-come first-served basis. Students may drop an Institute with a 100% refund provided that your request (including course number and section and your AU ID) is emailed to sis-skills@american.edu no later than two days prior to the institute's start date. Please fill out the Request for Registration Action form if you would like to add or drop a skills institute after the add/drop deadline.

For further information please contact the International Development Program Office in SIS 228: 202-885-1657, idpsis@american.edu


Fall 2015 IDP Skills Institutes

Click here for the IDP Fall 2015 flyer. Click here for the SIS-wide Fall 2015 master list.

SIS-638-005 Organizational Development   

September 18-20, 2015

Stephen Ladek

Every organization, whether not for profit, for profit or hybrid, begins with an idea. This idea is translated into a product or service that seeks to solve one or more problems. As the organization experiences success, it will be required to evolve to improve its products or services, respond to market needs and increase its effectiveness. In today’s world, this evolution is constant, rapid and affects every aspect of the organization - including its structure, human resources, culture, partnerships, administration and financing. Because of this, managing change is a critical leadership skill whether you are working for a startup, established middle-market player or massive global brand. In this case-based course, the class will use an exceedingly practical hands-on approach to consider how to recognize, survive and lead in the constant churn that is organizational development.


SIS-638-001 Gender Analysis & Development   

October 23-25, 2015

Patricia Morris

This course explores the concept of gender and its practical application to international development programs and policy. It covers a variety of analytical and planning tools as well as frameworks and methodologies developed and used by gender practitioners and activists worldwide. Course participants review gender concepts, gender analysis frameworks, gender analysis tools and strategies for gender mainstreaming and gender integration in international relief and development programs. This interactive skills institute focuses on applying gender analysis tools in program planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation.


SIS-638-002 Innovation in Market Development  

November 6-8, 2015

Jacqueline Bass

This course exposes students to new strategies to assist micro and small entrepreneurs in market development such as business training, strengthening producers' commercial relationships with suppliers & buyers, improving collaboration among producers, product development, and advisory and information services, among others. The course acquaints students with emerging and innovative ideas on market development best practices including the essential principles and core skills behind the design and management of market development interventions to create well-functioning markets. The course exposes students to the wide range of market development strategies, major intervention types and techniques, and tools and practices. A practical emphasis draws lessons from donor and practitioner agencies across the world through case studies and group exercises to illustrate emerging approaches to market development in different contexts (urban, rural, peri-urban, and transitional economies) and types of enterprises targeted (micro, small, and medium scale enterprises) to facilitate learning and enhance the skills and knowledge of students in the design and management of market development interventions.

SIS-638-003 Project and Program Evaluation   

November 13-15, 2015

Instructor: TBD

This course focuses on the development of skills to evaluate projects and programs using a variety of qualitative tools. It provides a basic understanding of the steps to include in preparing for and conducting an evaluation and includes you as the evaluator; designing evaluations; developing indicators; and practicing the use of several different tools.


Spring 2016 IDP Skills Institutes

Accounting for Development Practitioners (SIS-638-001)

Mark Robilliard

January 15-17, 2016

This course looks at the principles of accounting, finance, and business and their application to the development environment. Using the graphical Color Accounting learning system, the course establishes a logical and linguistic foundation for accounting. With a solid reporting framework in place, case studies of real business situations are examined. Students learn to use balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements to analyze the performance of reporting entities. The challenges of financial management and control are explored, along with practices for auditing and mitigating those challenges. The key issues of generally-accepted accounting practice are covered, along with abuses thereof so that the students can test the veracity of information they receive.


Data Analytics for Financial Inclusion (SIS-638-004)

Jacobo Menajovsky

January 22-24, 2016

This course focuses on the development of skills to analyze data and support decision making in financial inclusion programs using statistical software. Students will be exposed to basic statistical concepts and applications through hands-on exercises on real data from a country representative survey that targets users and non-users of digital financial services in Kenya. Additionally, students will be also exposed to socio-economic and poverty indicators that are widely used by global NGOs, Microfinance Institutions, Social Businesses and the Multilateral Development Banks.


Network Analysis – Theory, Practice, and Application in Development (SIS-638-002) 

Jacob Gray

January 29-31, 2016

This interactive skills institute introduces course participants to Network Analysis – a tool which in recent years has become widely referenced within donor project solicitations and applied in research and development projects to map, analyze, assess and monitor system change. Network analysis provides both visual and mathematical analysis of relationships in a system. It has been used by project implementers, researchers, and M&E specialists to identify roles and interactions between actors in a system, critical leverage points; structural gaps, bottlenecks, strengths and deficiencies in the flow of information, knowledge and resources. Course participants will be introduced to systems theory, and network analysis theory, concepts and metrics. They will gain basic skills in mapping and analyzing networks using two network analysis software programs – NodeXL and ORA – and explore applications in existing research and development projects. The course will culminate with participants applying knowledge gained by designing a solution to a USAID project solicitation.


Budgeting for Development (SIS-638-003)

Kristi Ragan and Nicholas Brown

February 12-14, 2016

"The budget is not just a collection of numbers, but an expression of our values and aspirations" (Jack Lew, Secretary of Treasury) If you want to understand how international development works you must have a basic understanding of how the US Government's budget, through the allocation of foreign aid, is managed to address international development challenges such as literacy, maternal and child health, good governance,clean water, and food security. At a more practical level to work on any development project you must understand how to build, manage and report on a budget. Students will learn the overall framework for how funding is allocated to the US Agency for Internal Development (USAID), how priorities are set, and how funds make their way to the USAID Mission managing resources at the country level. We will follow the program process within USAID as a guide to understanding how the budget flows down to individual projects and how NGO and for profit implementers use budgets to deliver assistance on the ground. Over the course of the workshop, students will learn the fundamentals of how to construct a budget, be introduced to budget monitoring methodologies, as well as get hands-on experience in basic budget forecasting and standard budget reporting.   


Project Design, Monitoring, and Evaluation (*2 credit skills institute) (SIS-696-001)

Cindy Collins

March 18-20, 2016; April 1-3, 2016

The Project Design portion of this course guides students through the first two of the six phases of the Project Cycle (Project Identification and Design; and Project Initiation) These hard skills will be learned or strengthened: problem analysis; objectives analysis; organizational capacity assessment; stakeholder analysis; theory of change; pathway of change; interventions, indicators, assumptions; grant proposal elements; and selection of implementing partner. The Project Monitoring and Evaluation portion of this course guides students through phases 3, 4 and 5 of the Project Cycle (Project Planning, Project Implementation, Project Evaluation). These hard skills will be learned or strengthened: initial community visits; data collection tools (quantitative and qualitative, including ICT solutions); logical framework (both horizontal template and 4x4 matrix); indicator protocols; process and informative evaluations; monitoring and evaluation means of verification templates; includes survey construction; data quality protection; communication plan, including change management system.

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Tinker-Walker Fellowships

Through the Irene Tinker-Millidge Walker Fellowship, students can receive financial support to offset the costs of including overseas field experience in their research, internship, or practicum.

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