Megan Bowman has over 25 years’ experience in public policy and international relations and has worked in business, government and the non-profit sector. As a member of the MAAIS faculty, Ms. Bowman oversees the Applied Research Client Projects, a capstone course that calls on MAAIS students to apply what they have learned in collaboration with Civic Council partners seeking assistance in addressing real-time challenges.
What has influenced your perspective on international affairs as your involvement has grown and deepened over time?
I was always interested in the humanities, and I took a generalist’s approach to my work, rather than specializing. That has given me a larger view of how problems can be solved. No one sector has all the answers. All the pieces have to fit together.
How does your involvement with MAAIS reflect that world view?
This program is so spot-on in its collaborative approach. Engaging mid-career students creates an incredibly rich learning environment for everyone involved. The mix of academic grounding and practical application is crucial. The idea of the Civic Council is brilliant, to make sure the program, the students and the professional community in Seattle are woven together.
It’s also an incredibly dynamic program. It has been personally fulfilling for me to get involved on the ground floor, to see what is working well and to have the flexibility to make adjustments so we can keep getting better.
How did you approach the Applied Research Client Project?
What distinguishes MAAIS from more academic-oriented programs is the transition from doing graduate-level research and analysis to making action-oriented recommendations to business leaders and policy makers. ARCP is where we fit those pieces together.
I have been on both sides of the client/consultant relationship, and I understand the needs and challenges of both roles. It is exciting to work with the students as they learn what our clients were looking for and how they can come together as a team to deliver results.
The biggest challenge with ARCP from the beginning has been scoping the work appropriately. Working from the outside, it can be a challenge to match the needs of the clients with the skill set of the students. It is important to create a meaningful, accessible learning opportunity for students, while ensuring the projects yield real added value for the clients.
The feedback we got from our clients after the first ARCP was very positive – they actually wanted more interaction with the students than they received. More communication is always better.
What advice do you have for students joining the MAAIS program?
Jump in with both feet. This is a short, intensive opportunity that will be over before you know it. Take full advantage of everything the program has to offer, push yourself out of your comfort zone.
Learn from your colleagues – the diversity of backgrounds in the cohort is a huge strength, and you will gain a lot of important insight from each other. You are fortunate to be a part of such a rich program – make the most of it!