CLOSUP in the Classroom

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Engaging students

The "CLOSUP in the Classroom" initiative, launched in 2013, links the Center's research activities with teaching in the Ford School and elsewhere, to enhance and expand student learning opportunities. The initiative brings students into CLOSUP research projects as policy analysts, integrates the Center's research data and findings into the classroom to inform course presentations and student learning, and supports Ford School student internships with external policy organizations. See below for more information.

In 2015, CLOSUP received a grant from the Office of the Provost at the University of Michigan to design and launch two new innovative undergraduate courses that integrate the Center's research activities directly into the classroom, providing students with unique opportunities to conduct original research with the latest social science data. In 2018, a gift from Dennis and Nancy Meany to the Ford School Renewable Energy Support Fund allowed for the creation of the first graduate-level class to actively engage students in CLOSUP’s Energy and Environmental Policy Initiative.

The Center often brings in experts on a range of policy topics to make presentations to Ford School classes, usually opening the events to the wider campus community and the public as well. Students have opportunities to meet in small groups with these policy experts before and after the public events.


Prior courses and related resources

  • Winter 2019 Syllabus

    This course considers the range of state and local policies that impact renewable energy development, understanding how these policies interact and the politics at play behind their adoption. It covers not just policies traditionally associated with climate action—such as the carbon tax, cap and trade, RPS or municipal climate pledges—but also the suite of policies that facilitate or hinder renewable energy development from state tax policy to local land use laws regulation to infrastructure investment. It also explores the diverse stakeholders who shape these policies and the motivations behind their positions—from economic development, to energy independence, to landowners' rights. Seminar time is spent examining the case of a single state both through public documents and news reports, as well as through guest lectures by policymakers and scholars from that state. Outside of class, students work together in teams, with each team developing an additional state case study that they will present at an end-of-term public symposium. Exceptional students from this course may be invited to further develop their case study into a publishable paper or chapter.

    Fall 2016 Syllabus
    See Ford School news article on this course

    This course is designed to familiarize students with the Michigan political system and current policy issues at play both statewide and in local communities. It provides an overview of Michigan government and political institutions, and examine the responsibilities of and relationships between state and local units of government in Michigan, with discussion about specific issues and challenges currently facing Michigan policymakers. The course also includes an introduction to and hands-on use of survey research data provided by one the Ford School's core research centers: the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP). CLOSUP's Michigan Public Policy Survey (MPPS) program asks Michigan local government leaders about a wide variety of public policy issues. The course employs these data to supplement discussions of the topics covered each week. The data are also used in students' final papers. No prior knowledge of survey research, its methodology, or statistical software is required.

    Winter 2017 Syllabus

    In this seminar-style course, students gain a deeper understanding of contemporary energy and environmental policy debates, as well as develop personal expertise with a specific aspect of this policy arena. The course begins by introducing students to policy research techniques. Students then spend the remainder of the term researching a topic of their choosing on energy or environmental policy. These may include the student's own environmental policy passion or a topic that complements ongoing research in CLOSUP's Energy and Environmental Policy Initiative, including the National Surveys on Energy and the Environment. The course culminates with a public research conference where students, divided into panels based on their research topics, each make an oral presentation of their research results and engage in a panel discussion with their classmates.

    This Coursera/UM course incorporates a video of CLOSUP's Oct. 8, 2018 panel discussion on Electoral Reform via Ballot Initiatives, which brought a panel of experts together to discuss the pros and cons of reforming the redistricting process in Michigan, as well as policies on voter registration and voter rights.

CLOSUP in YOUR Classroom

CLOSUP staff are interested in helping other faculty integrate data from the Michigan Public Policy Survey and the National Surveys on Energy and Environment into their teaching and research. See the links below for presentations on how these data can be used to enhance teaching and learning opportunities at the University of Michigan and beyond.

Policy analysts

CLOSUP enhances the classroom experience by engaging students through independent study and employment as policy analysts on the Center's projects. These activities provide hands-on training in social science research methods and practices, as well as opportunities to work with original data that have not been analyzed previously, and to help drive the Center's research agenda and findings.

After their time at the Ford School, CLOSUP Policy Analysts take their experience and expertise to positions with leading policy organizations. For example, Kristy Hartman, a CLOSUP Policy Analyst for AY2012-2013, later joined the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL)(link is external) as an energy policy specialist and was quoted in the Wall Street Journal(link is external) regarding new policies on hydraulic fracturing in Colorado.

Meet the CLOSUP Policy Analysts

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Student Working Papers

CLOSUP's student policy analysts have an opportunity to author research papers on a wide range of policy topics, for publication through CLOSUP's Student Working Paper Series. Whether working with CLOSUP data from the MPPS or NSEE surveys, working on case studies, or other methods, these papers offer an opportunity for students to further develop their research and writing skills and to contribute original research to the wider community.
See student working papers


CLOSUP also occasionally supports summer internships which are administered by the Ford School's Graduate Career Services Office. These internships place Master's students with state and local government offices and other external organizations working on state and local public policy issues, and are part of the School's Master's program which requires internships between the first and second years of study at the School.