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Theory and Practice Tracks


A theory and practice track is a group of 2 non-sequential courses that engage a single topic from differential methodological orientations. Collaboratively designed by a University of Maryland faculty member and an industry expert based in Washington, D.C., each track is comprised of a theory seminarand a practice seminar.

Together, this pair of seminars enable students to consider a given topic from both a scholarly and a pragmatic perspective. To complete a theory and practice track, students must complete both the theory seminar (3 credits) and the practice seminar (3 credits), for a total of 6 credits. Theory and practice seminars may be completed in any order and at any time during the track’s multi-year lifespan.

It is anticipated that a new theory and practice track will be introduced each semester during the 2020-21 and 2021-22 academic years.


earth iconTransform Maryland


Institutions by their very nature are built to sustain their processes over time. Many of the ways we do things in government and higher education, for example, have evolved slowly over centuries. Recognizing untapped potential in a stable organizational structure requires insight. Identifying solutions requires ingenuity. In this track, students focus on the University of Maryland’s own institutional processes, identify challenges, and propose innovative solutions for improvement. After a semester of developing their theoretical understanding and honing their practical skills, students devote a semester to working in partnership with University leadership to effect real change on our campus. (This track will be offered at least throughout 2020-22.)

HNUH 219T
Transform Maryland: Theories and Models of Consulting
Jeff Hollingsworth, Joseph Drasin & Megan MacKenzie Benefiel

This consulting practicum theory course is designed to prepare students with the theoretical and practical background they need to engage in the art of consulting to make real change in the world. The broad number of topics covered make this course both challenging and rewarding, with concepts drawn from business, engineering, psychology, sociology, communications, literature, and more. These topics blend multiple academic disciplines into an analytical, systems, and abstract analysis approach to problem solving. Students will develop an understanding of organizations, how groups make decisions, and how one can influence those decisions. This is driven by the development of two parallel analysis techniques: quantitative and qualitative. The quantitative analysis techniques include such areas as systems design, data analysis, and process modeling. These are paired with qualitative techniques, including organizational analysis, decision modeling, and stakeholder analysis.

GenEd: Under review for DSHS
Offered in: Fall 2020, Fall 2021
Required/Optional: Required


HNUH 219P
Transform Maryland: Theories into Practice
Jeff Hollingsworth, Joseph Drasin & Megan MacKenzie Benefiel

In this intensive, 10-person seminar, students undertake a real-world consulting engagement for their client, the University of Maryland, to improve one of its operational processes. Working as a consulting team, students apply analysis, user-centered design, behavioral and social science methods in order to identify opportunities for innovation and recommend solutions. The one-semester engagement is broken into four phases—Frame, Explore, Analyze, and Recommend—through which students assess the potential for changing operations, addressing political differences, and the potential for technology to augment the streamlined process. The practicum focuses on transforming critical university administrative and business functions and culminates in a presentation to key members of the University of Maryland leadership team. The specific project changes from semester to semester.

GenEd: DSSP
Offered in: Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Required/Optional: Required



earth iconClimate in Crisis


Tempests, wildfires, melting glaciers, and rising oceans speak to the increasing vulnerability of our planet and its systems due to climate change. The United Nations calls this predicament a race we must win. But what kind of race is climate change and what form should our political and moral responses take? Is it more similar to smallpox and the coronavirus or to a looming catastrophic asteroid strike? How do we weigh our actions against our impact on nonhuman animals and biodiversity? We can be sure that changes in Congress will impact how we orient to these issues as a nation in the coming years. But what role can advocacy play in the form Federal policy takes? In this track, students will acquire the knowledge they need to evaluate crisis response and the advocacy skills they need to be part of the solution. (This track will be offered at least throughout the 2021-22 academic year)

HNUH 229T
Climate in Crisis: Politics and Ethics

This theory and practice track examines theoretical frameworks for understanding climate change and concrete cases that shed light on the complexity of managing it. In this, the theoretical component of the Climate in Crisis track, we investigate the nature of global public goods and questions about how best to provide them in a situation of multiple actors (states, NGOs, local and indigenous communities); climate change policy and justice; and the intersection of climate change with concerns about biodiversity conservation, food security, migration, and local development. Learning from this broad range of material gives students the complex perspective they need to grapple with the climate crisis. In 229P, students will complement this work with hands-on engagement at the level of Federal policy and legislation.

GenEd: Under review for DSHU
Offered in: Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Required/Optional: Required


HNUH 229P
Climate in Crisis: Strategy and Advocacy

This theory and practice track examines theoretical frameworks for understanding climate change and concrete cases that shed light on the complexity of managing it. In this, the practical component of the Climate in Crisis track, we explore several domestic energy and climate policy case studies, examining the competing roles played by various interest groups that influence legislative and regulatory outcomes, with a focus on differing organizational advocacy strategies. Once we have mastered organizational advocacy strategies, students bring those tools to bear on the most recent US Federal policy mandates and legislation. In 229T, students will complement this work with a deep dive into the nature of public goods and climate change policy, among other crucial considerations.

GenEd: DSSP
Offered in: Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022
Required/Optional: Required



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