Public Engagement

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Urban Policy Lab

  • The Urban Policy Lab is Milano’s oldest and largest client-centered course. Students in the lab work in teams to advise clients in government and the nonprofit sector on pressing policy and management issues. Working under the supervision of a faculty supervisor, students research the issue, identify possible solutions, and analyze them. The students present their recommendations to the client in a formal briefing and afterward submit a written report incorporating client feedback.

    This is a core requirement for the Public and Urban Policy program. Students from other programs are also welcome to participate in the Urban Policy Lab. While Urban Policy students work on two projects in the lab and earn six credits, students from other programs have the option of participating in a single client project, earning three credits. With the three-credit option, students work on their client project during the first half of the course.

    Urban Policy Lab is offered in the spring semester only. The prerequisite is Policy Analysis, a course in which students build critical decision-making skills through case-based analytical exercises.

    Lab clients include a wide array of public agencies and nonprofit organizations.

    • Recent public-sector clients include the New York City Departments of Corrections, Design and Construction, Health and Mental Hygiene, Housing Preservation and Development, Parks and Recreation, and Probation; the Mayor's Office for Environmental Coordination, the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice, the Mayor's Office for Food Policy, and the Mayor's Office for Operations; the New York City Housing Authority; the District  Attorney of New York County; and several members of the New York City Council, including the Council speaker.
    • Recent nonprofit clients include the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Citizens Committee for New York City, the Correctional Association of New York State, Farm School, Human Services Council, Services and Advocacy for LGBT Elders, Lutheran Social Services, Safe Horizon, Southwest Leadership Academy (a charter school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

    See lists of recent Lab projects by year:

    Links to Articles About the Urban Policy Lab

    Several external and internal publications have featured articles about the lab, including a description of a collaboration with Parsons School of Design; an article about a lab project that inspired a law promoting locally grown food; and an article by Professor Rachel Meltzer about the Urban Policy program's client-based curriculum.

    What Some of Our Clients Are Saying

  • Community Environmental Center

    "CEC has worked closely with Milano's Urban Policy Lab over the last decade, and we have been consistently impressed with the quality of the students' research, analysis, and formal presentations. From a project to mitigate the presence of reusable building materials in NYC's waste stream to our most recent project, which involves sustainable reconstruction in Hurricane Sandy's wake, CEC has consistently received incisive analysis and actionable recommendations from Milano students. CEC currently employs two graduates from Milano's Urban Policy program, and it is gratifying how often we get to work with other graduates we know who are employed by organizations in the sustainability sector. I recommend participating in the Lab to any non-profit or governmental agency that might appreciate a fresh perspective on any challenges or opportunities they face."

    Richard M. Cherry
    President and CEO

    NYC Department of Parks and Recreation

    "MillionTreesNYC was impressed by the New School team’s high level of professionalism, dedication, and enthusiasm for the project. The team offered insightful analysis of the issue and new opportunities to explore, while always being thoughtful about our needs and concerns. They helped us see things in a new light and helped us to improve our messaging. It was a pleasure to work with the New School team, and we look forward to implementing their proposal to engage more schools in the MillionTreesNYC initiative."

    Morgan Monaco
    Director, MillionTrees NYC

    NYC Department of Probation

    "The Department of Probation was very impressed with the high quality work done by the Milano students, who helped us think through options for developing and implementing staff and client feedback surveys. Not only did they do a thorough review of current practices in the field; we also used their recommendations as the foundation for our own planning process."

    Vincent N. Schiraldi