INS 519: Internships and Civic Engagement for International Studies

Course frequency: Arranged

Course location: Arranged

Instructor: John Twichell, Ph.D.

Office: Campo Sano 220-D

Office Hours: TBA (each week) and by appointment 


Course description: This course is designed to maximize the effectiveness and utility of a semester-long, out-of-classroom internship as an integral element of academic programs in the College of Arts and Sciences.  Course components are designed to inspire the student to realize the benefits of an internship while that same practical work experience is taking place.  The cooperative design fosters an environment where the student is able to experience what it is like to work on real world projects.  Equally important, the student receives guidance, performance evaluation and feedback from both the internship supervisor and the course Instructor.  Identified by student career interests, the internship host organization becomes a setting for applied work relevant to international studies.  Host organizations in the Miami area draw upon the following fields: commerce, marketing, and trade; diplomacy; environmental and sustainable development; global public health; human rights; international law; international political economy; international security; human-generated and natural disasters; and issues of social justice.  The course offers students an unparalleled opportunity to: (1) partner with an agency/organization approved by the Instructor; (2) participate in an assignment closely tied to academic programs; and (3) apply critical-thinking, data analysis, leadership, methodological, and theoretical skills to the scope of applied work. 

Course objectives: Goals are for the student to: (1) apply the theoretical principles of international studies by identifying a specific area of career interest; (2) gain practical experience in international studies by serving as an intern in that area of interest; (3) be inspired to draw upon academic theory, research methodology and methods to solve real world problems; and (4) refine analytical, civic, communication, and leadership skills.

Course mission: Civic engagement is central to the intellectual experience in the College of Arts and Sciences, where students are encouraged to apply what they learn in the classroom in service to their community.  With that broader mission in mind, the course is designed to enhance student understanding of the complexities of the modern world through internships and civic engagement.  It aims to apply the interdisciplinary approach of international studies found in the increasing interdependence of people, nations, and institutions at all levels of society.  The course partners with agencies, communities, and organizations in Miami to build networks, share ideas, and look for innovative, cross-disciplinary solutions to global problems that impact our local community. 

Course prerequisites: Student registration into the course requires prior completion of INS core courses or permission from the Instructor.  Upon favorable review of the prospective student’s current resume and a written expression of area of internship interests, Instructor permission will be granted for course registration.  Course registration is limited due to the intense nature of the work required of Instructor and of students.

Course assignments, and grading criteria: The student is required to schedule an appointment and meet individually with the Instructor during the semester’s first two weeks of classes. The internship is to be identified and confirmed through the Instructor. Once confirmed, it is the student’s responsibility to make direct contact with the internship site (organization) supervisor. Next, the student is to schedule a meeting with the supervisor to discuss, establish, and formalize the scope of work in written format. Regular internship and class session attendance are required. The student will spend 10 hours per week working at the internship, for at least 12 weeks of the semester, or as arranged with internship supervisor, to fulfill the 120-hour course requirement. Given that the fundamental purpose of this internship experience is to promote the student’s capabilities to bridge theory with practice, the student is expected to incorporate a research component or analytical assignment into the internship, as deemed appropriate by the internship supervisor.

By the end of the semester the student is expected to be able to: (1) explain her/his role and function in the internship organization and how this function contributes to international studies; (2) present both oral and written work that bridges theory with practice; (3) communicate the mission of a real world organization from an insider’s perspective through the theories, methodology, and ‘language’ of international studies; and (3) critically examine one civic engagement activity and evaluate the extent to which it: (a) generates societal awareness, interconnectedness, and mutual understanding; (b) promotes social equality and justice, environmental consciousness, political participation, and/or identity formation; and (c) initiates change locally, with broader global implications.

In the event that the student experiences internship difficulties in any form, it is the responsibility of the student to notify the Instructor immediately. An assessment of the problem will be made, followed by appropriate action that involves a determination as to whether or not the student continues with the same internship or is transferred to another internship without any grade penalty being incurred by the student. However, if the difficulties are related to the student not fulfilling her/his responsibilities as agreed in the internship plan and signed agreement, the student could potentially be required to withdraw from the course. In certain cases, such as if the student demonstrates minimal communication, the Instructor will make a direct request of the supervisor to complete a midterm assessment, to monitor progress, and to identify any potential need for intervention on the part of the Instructor. 

In addition to the duties and expectations outlined above, the final grade will be structured according to the following set of assignments and criteria:

Internship work plan/agreement (15%): A written plan/agreement that outlines the goals, objectives, strategies, tasks, and a proposed timeline for successful completion of the internship. The student works with both the internship supervisor and the Instructor to ensure the plan/agreement is feasible, and to ensure that it is well suited to the internship organization and to the academic field of international studies. The finalized plan agreement must contain all contact information for the internship supervisor, as well as the supervisor’s signature.

Internship student performance assessment (15%): A standardized quantitative and qualitative student performance assessment form created by the Instructor is to be completed by the internship supervisor. The assessment includes a Likert scale to measure the student’s completion of assignments, timeliness, professionalism, work ethic and overall performance. The qualitative section of the assessment enables the supervisor to provide feedback on student’s strengths and weaknesses.

Civic engagement (15%): Students will be required to civically engage with the Miami community through at least one activity related to their area of academic and career interests. The activity can be one that is organized and takes place either on or off one of the University of Miami campuses. To fulfill the requirements of the assignment, the student must submit a three-page written report that details the activity/event in which s/he participated. The report must be submitted to the Instructor within two weeks after the date of the event.

Oral presentation (20%): To promote greater awareness about the academic significance of internships, near the end of the term, each student will deliver a presentation (10 minutes in length for undergraduates, and 15 minutes in length for graduate students) about her/his internship and how it relates to international studies, in particular, a specific subfield that informs the 12-week project. Guidelines and grading rubric will be posted on the course website. This presentation will be conducted before an audience that might include faculty and students from the broader University community. Each student is expected to be prepared to respond to critiques and questions from the audience.

Final paper (35%): A ten-page double-spaced academically-sourced research paper in MLA format (fifteen-page length for graduate students). Specific details about the writing format, guidelines and grading rubric will be posted on the course website. The student is to include an appendix of any additional written work completed during her/his internship, as appropriate. Appendices do not count toward the page length requirements for this assignment. 


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