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 then submit a written report incorporating client feedback.
This is a core requirement for the Public and Urban Policy MS degree. Students from other programs are also welcome to participate in the Urban Policy Lab. While Public and Urban Policy MS 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.
Policy Lab Clients
Lab clients include a wide array of public agencies and nonprofit organizations.
Recent public-sector clients include the New York City Administration for Children’s Services; the New York City Departments of Administrative Services, Corrections, Education, Environmental Protection, Health and Mental Hygiene, Housing
Preservation and Development, Parks and Recreation, and Probation; the Mayor’s Office for Criminal Justice, the Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence, and the Mayor's Office for Immigrant Affairs; the New York City Housing Authority;
and several members of the New York City Council, including the Council speaker.
Recent nonprofit clients include the Association for Housing and Neighborhood Development, Bedford-Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, Center for Court Innovation, Hunger Free America, Nature Conservancy, New York
Immigration Coalition, Safe Horizon, and United Neighborhood Houses.
See lists of recent Lab projects by year:
Policy Lab Stories
The Urban Policy Lab recently worked with the New York Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) to identify how MOIA can improve its workflow and better serve
the city's growing immigrant population. Several external and internal publications have featured articles about the Urban Policy 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 Public and Urban Policy program's client-based curriculum.
NYC Administration for Children's Services
"The Community Based Strategies team at the NYC Administration for Children’s Services leads the design and strategy for a continuum of over 200 social services programs that serve over 20,000 families a year with the goal of promoting family strengths
and preventing child maltreatment. Over the past several years we have been fortunate to partner with Milano’s Urban Policy Lab on child welfare issues and initiatives to build strong families and strong communities. Every student team that we’ve
worked with has brought a high level of expertise in policy analysis and strategic thinking, all through a lens of equity and social justice. Not only have we been able to implement the student team’s recommendations and analysis, we have also hired
outstanding past students and have seen a lasting impact on our practice and policy. I am grateful to the Urban Policy Lab for their dedication, persistence, and commitment to this important work!"
Assistant Commissioner, Community Based Strategies
Division of Prevention Services
Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation
“Restoration has been honored and fortunate to be a frequent partner and client of the Urban Policy Lab. I always marvel at how the teams come in seemingly green, and then produce a superior product and presentation, with each team member contributing
to the effort to deliver strong recommendations that make a meaningful and lasting contribution to our work. I can't overemphasize how valuable their work and reports have been to us as a nonprofit with limited time, human capital, and consulting
EVP and Chief Program Officer
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
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
"The Urban Policy Lab was just the type of challenge I needed to feel confident in my future and to showcase what I was capable of to any potential employer in the public or nonprofit sectors. The course prepared me and my Urban Policy Lab teammates to
take on projects, collaborate with a diverse group of people, fine-tune our organizational skills, and convey our research, ideas, and recommendations in a way that spoke to our client and an array of potential stakeholders. In my current position
working for the department of Human Capital at the NYC Department of Education, these skills are vital to successful program implementation and have helped me take our work from conceptual to impactful in just a few short years."
'14, Senior Manager, Teacher Talent Continuum, New York City Department of Education
"The Urban Policy Lab provided invaluable experience that prepared me for my capstone work and helped me secure my current job providing research support
and technical assistance to government agencies. Liaising with stakeholders, conducting interviews, and synthesizing findings helped me become familiar with research methods I now use daily. Presenting as a team in the Urban Policy Lab taught me how
to translate complex findings clearly to a broad audience. In the end, the Urban Policy Lab helped me build a skill set that will last me throughout my career."
Julia Bowling '17, Research Associate at CUNY Institute for State & Local Governance
Urban Policy Lab has been one of the most rewarding educational experiences I've had. I was challenged from day one and my teammates and I came up with a solid end product that I could immediately put on my résumé and have revisited as a resource. Through
this process I was able to get the necessary knowledge base and connect with professionals, leading to a promotion and later career change. With that said, as underwriter for all new-construction affordable housing proposals reviewed by the City of
New York, I would recommend this truly unique class to anyone looking to take their career to the next level!"
Micah Hunter '14, Senior Underwriter, New Construction, at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development