Meet Tricia Davies, CEO of Public Good Consulting LLC, Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University. Advisor, entrepreneur, applied policy analyst and community builder! 

Tricia is an entrepreneur and strategist who combines 20 years​ of policy research, financial planning, and management with her commitment to community development. Her expertise is provided through her firm, The Public Good. She’s a trusted advisor to nonprofit boards, government leaders and community organizations and is passionate about ensuring high-quality educational opportunities for all, regardless of income. Also, as a an Adjunct Associate Professor at Columbia University, she has served as the faculty advisor on several graduate student research projects, including: Spring 2017 – World Bank Group – assessment of Open Data initiatives in Tanzania, and Spring 2016 – NYC Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics NYC Open Data portal as a tool for citizen impact.

Tricia also collaborated with CapSource on an article about “How to Set Up University Capstone Projects for Success.” Stay tuned for the upcoming article, which will be published this week! 

Hear directly from Tricia about her perspective on experiential learning:

 

What does experiential learning mean to you? 

 

Experiential learning is the practice of applying theories and academic learning to lived experiences.  It is also the result of work experiences that one has reflected on and learned from in a critical way. Combining practical work experiences that include all their nuanced challenges within a context for learning that you can’t get in a classroom alone.

 

Why is experiential learning a priority for you? 

 

It’s a priority when I’m looking to hire someone who can demonstrate not only their technical skills but also their knowledge and familiarity in the industry or environment of my clients.  It also provides exposure to students in fields or industries that they may not have otherwise considered in their careers. In short, experiential learning is a major stepping stone in career development.

 

Can you give us an example of a successful experiential learning engagement that you’ve coordinated/delivered? 

 

Several years ago I was the faculty advisor for a Capstone team at Columbia’s School of International & Public Affairs (Capstones have been a requirement of their MPA degree for at least 20 years).  The team was tasked by the NYC Mayor’s office to assess the utility of New York City’s open data platform for citizens. The students’ findings were included in the Mayor’s annual status review of the open data initiative and the report was published through local government news outlets. One of the students went on to accept a job with the Mayor’s Office.

 

Why do you use experiential learning? 

 

As a strategy consultant, it’s important that my team (students or staff) learn from prior experiences and be able to translate those hands-on experiences into tactics and solutions that can refined and replicated. 

 

How do your students benefit from experiential learning? 

 

Students benefit through exposure to industry employers as well as through the experience of applying their classroom learning to real-life challenges.

 

What’s the most challenging part of being an #ExperientialEducator? (coordinating/delivering an experiential learning curriculum to students) 

 

There are a lot of challenges. The biggest I think is managing expectations of the major stakeholders:  the students, the academic office and the company (client).

 

What skills do your students use when engaged in experiential learning? 

 

My students have participated in group Capstone projects on behalf of a company (or government office). Students learn time management and delegation above all.

 

What advice do you have for faculty and institutions considering experiential learning? 

 

One piece of advice is to involve the faculty advisor (and possibly the students) in negotiating the project scope of work early on.