Image of the main stairs at Old North taken from Dahlgren Quad
Discovery & Impact, General News

McCourt’s Inaugural Virtual Summer Workshop Advances Students’ Professional Development

July 13, 2020

In March 2020, as the McCourt School shifted to a virtual learning environment, faculty and staff began reimagining ways to ensure the same level of high-quality educational and professional development offerings that are at the core of a McCourt education.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on internships and other professional development plans, McCourt professor Judy Feder and associate director of executive education John Dolan identified an opportunity to harness the talent across academic faculty, staff, alumni and research centers to build out McCourt’s first-ever virtual Enhance and Advance Workshop Series.

The workshop series aimed to offer students courses related to capstone projects and additional professional development options to deepen skills in policy and political leadership, learn new analytical tools, and explore different policy areas over the summer months. The workshop series, launched in early June, has over 450 enrollments across 20 different courses.

“At McCourt, we continue to identify new and innovative ways to support our community of leaders with the tools and skills to address today’s most complex policy challenges,” said Dean Maria Cancian. “I am incredibly grateful to the students who dedicated time this summer to continue learning and to each course instructor for putting together this high-impact series during this time of uncertainty and change.”

The free, non-credit workshops covered a diverse range of topics including data management in Python, social media basics, understanding congressional operations, education finance, and more. Many students continue to share positive reviews of the courses and instructors.

“The Certificate in Education Finance (CEF) course was phenomenal and legitimately one of the best online courses that I have attended,” said National Urban Fellow Regina Johnson (MPM ‘20). “It was great to engage with nearly 80 professionals from 27 different states who enrolled in the course, and I look forward to networking with them after the program ends.”

The course instructors included faculty and researchers as well as several staff members, all of whom volunteered to build the curriculum and share specific expertise in key professional development areas. McCourt associate professor Nada Eissa’s “Economics of Large Scale Disasters” class garnered much interest and high student enrollment.

“I volunteered to teach this summer to help students make sense of the economic devastation of COVID-19 and to put the pandemic in the context of other catastrophic events,” explained Eissa. “I also wanted to directly engage students in developing a semester course on the role of the government in large-scale disasters and the feedback has been incredibly helpful to guide both my teaching approach and topics.