Georgetown’s MA-IBP Program Commences Social Action Projects in the Jesuit Tradition

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The Master of Arts in International Business and Policy Program  (new window)(MA-IBP), an interdisciplinary program at Georgetown University exploring the intersection between business and geopolitics, commenced its Social Action Projects (new window) this fall. Working in small teams, students are collaborating with a number of public, private, and nonprofit organizations to tackle international business issues. 

What distinguishes these capstone consulting projects is their focus on the Jesuit tradition of “women and men for others.” While completing their respective projects, MA-IBP students study the global management and governance of people, products, and profits as a means toward a greater social purpose in the world. 

Paul O’Brien (IBP ‘20) highlighted his sense of fulfillment when working alongside UNICEF on their Health Access Public-Private Partnerships for Mothers and Children project. Previously deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other countries across East Asia, he felt conflicted when he could only tend to the immediate health needs of children, rather than develop a health care system that would get to the root of the problem. 

“I am able to build actionable targets that can be employed to bridge this gap and bring health care to those who need it,” said O’Brien, finally at ease. “It has been made possible through this sustainable, public-private partnership.”

MA-IBP students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with a diverse group of organizations. Offered by Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and McDonough School of Business, this one-year interdisciplinary program blends the strengths of the oldest and most highly regarded school of foreign service in the world with a top-tier business school that has proven experience in educating global, principled leaders who serve business and society.

The curriculum provides an understanding of the frameworks and mechanisms that drive business and international relations and explores those concepts in contemporary global issues. It is designed for working professionals who want to broaden their perspective and advance their careers without pausing it. 

Michael Ryan, lecturer at Georgetown McDonough and Social Action Project advisor, noted that, “Our best projects are strategic, integrate international business and international policy studies that consider both the interests of stakeholders and aspire to real-world readiness.” 

Some recent organizations that students have worked directly with include:

  • African Development Bank: Small Solar Market Place in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Atlantic Council Scowcroft Center: Global Data Governance
  • Environmental Defense Fund: Deforestation and Global Cocoa Industry-Grower Country Strategies
  • World Bank: Haiti Comprehensive Special Economic Zone Development Plan

The Social Action Projects allow students to apply both the technical and soft skills that they have developed throughout their time in the program. Before participating in MA-IBP, Aliya Candeloro (IBP ‘20) was limited to delivering capacity-building activities to smaller beneficiary groups and organizations in the Eurasia region. Since working alongside the World Bank to explore sustainable tourism options in Dominica, however, she has been able to branch out beyond her familiar geographic area to work on the large-scale project. 

“The social action project is truly a culminating point in the program,” said Candeloro. “All of the key concepts introduced in earlier months come into play and enable us to test our strengths and expertise as professionals.”