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A. The PAE can provide you, as a client, with a fresh perspective on a familiar problem or with an opportunity to analyze new issues that your organization may not have had the time to address. You may also use the PAE to obtain policy recommendations from an objective, independent source. In all cases, the PAE will provide your organization with a useful, professional study at very little cost.
A. Your organization is expected to cover the cost of all incidental expenses such as out-of-town travel, long-distance phone calls, and photocopying. While there is some funding available through the university for travel, it is very limited. As per Harvard University policy, students may not be paid for work on the project itself.
A. Students are free to work on a wide variety of projects in different policy fields. Some projects incorporate highly technical or quantitative techniques; others use organizational or management analysis. All projects, however, must be focused on an actual policy decision or problem. Background or library research is not an adequate project in itself. The topic must be limited enough in scope to be completed during the time frame (September to March), yet broad enough to be intellectually challenging for the student and useful to the client. Examples of recent projects can be found here.
A. Once you submit your proposal to Harvard Kennedy School and it is approved by faculty, it will be made available to students, who, if interested, will contact you to gather more information. You may request resumes or interview students in person or by phone. As the client, you are free to choose any interested student(s) who you believe have an appropriate background for your project. You should be aware that students choose clients as well as clients choosing students. Due to the large number of proposals the school receives, and the fact that some students develop their own projects, there is no guarantee that a client-proposed project will be implemented.
Students may work independently or in small teams. If you are approached by multiple students, you may feel free to encourage them to work together.
A. You are expected to discuss the project with the student on a regular basis, review drafts and other interim products, and provide access to information. The initial problem definition stage is especially crucial to the success of the project. Time devoted at this early juncture will lead to more efficient, long-term management of the project for both you and the student.
A. The student is asked to understand your position as a client and to see the problem from your organization’s perspective. At the same time, independent thinking is crucial to the project’s success and, therefore, students are encouraged to look at the problem from alternative points of view, and to bring those alternatives to your attention.
A. PAE topic and client selection begins in August when PAE proposals are solicited from clients. Throughout September, students discuss topics and client needs and in early October, PAE topics are finalized. From this time through March, several interim products are developed by the student, including a detailed prospectus and several drafts. The final product is due at the end of March.
A. Students are enrolled full-time at the Harvard Kennedy School while they work on their PAE and are required to take at least six other courses during the year. Students are expected to spend approximately eight to ten hours per week on the PAE. Exactly how much time is spent depends largely on the requirements of the project and the student's schedule. Many students choose to use the winter break from late December through January to travel and conduct intensive on-site research and writing. Usually the majority of the writing occurs during the spring term, especially between early February and late March when the final paper is due.
A. This varies enormously, from no on-site presence at all to a great deal. At the outset, it is prudent for you to meet face-to-face with the student to discuss the project. After this initial meeting, the student may make several other trips to interview relevant stakeholders, collect data, and gain insights into the problem being analyzed. If your organization is in the Boston area, you may arrange for the student to spend time on-site on a weekly basis. If you are not located in the Boston area, the student should remain in contact via telephone conversations and e-mail correspondence. Students are required to be in-residence on campus for the second year of the program and thus schedule PAE-related trips during vacation periods to avoid missed class time.
A. Each student is assigned two Harvard Kennedy School faculty members with expertise in the topic area to provide guidance on the PAE. As advisors, they ensure that the analysis meets appropriate academic and professional standards. If possible, you should discuss the project early in the fall with both the student(s) and advisors, and maintain contact with the advisors through the year. While the PAE is the work of the students, the engagement of faculty advisors - many of them preeminent in their fields - can be an important benefit to clients.
A. Before deciding on a project, you must be prepared to give the student access to any information that is required for his or her analysis. It is important to understand that all final reports are placed in the Harvard Kennedy School's library and are available to anyone holding a Harvard identification. Therefore, you should feel free to ask students not to divulge sensitive information in the final paper, or you may request the use of pseudonyms to protect the identity of people and organizations. In special circumstances, PAEs can be temporarily withheld from availability in the library. If the project requires a great degree of confidentiality, it may not be an appropriate PAE topic.