WC: Economic and Policy Studies Internship, 2023-24


The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service at University of Virginia leverages the research, expertise, and resources of the University to strengthen effective governance, inform public policy, develop ethical and effective leaders, and deliver strategic and technical assistance throughout the state.


Professor William Shobe, Director, Center for Economic and Policy Studies


This internship will prepare interns for careers in any of the following:

  • Government
  • Non-profit
  • Advocacy and Policy
  • Consulting
  • Data science
  • Regulatory affairs


This internship will provide experiences to develop and polish the following skills:

  • Rigorous applied policy design and evaluation
  • Problem-solving and analytical
  • Data literacy and fluency
  • Communication to diverse audiences
  • Project management and leadership
  • Thought leadership and innovation


Learning goals and outcomes would be developed and determined with the student, but some goal and learning outcomes could be: 

  • How to conduct and communicate research and policy analysis in a manner that has impact and will influence the intended audience. 
  • Expand and apply academic skills and knowledge while developing professional skills such as project management and communication. 
  • Experience in applied, interdisciplinary policy research 
  • Communicating and visualizing research results for a non-academic audience


The Cooper Center's Economic and Policy Studies group has a number of upcoming projects. We would work with the students to match them with the project that best matches their skills and interests and provides the most opportunity for growth in their desired focus area. (Or propose your own idea on regional policy design and evaluation!) We currently have projects on:

  • Climate policy and the renewable energy transition (policy and technology)
  • Analysis of building codes, zoning policies and other aspects of the built environment
  • Regional economic analysis in support of improved opportunity
  • Examine the current public approvals process for renewables projects (in Virginia, in particular) and to reflect on how the process may be improved, given our democratic values.
  • Techniques for evaluating energy efficiency measures (possibly a machine learning application).
  • Evaluating state and local policies in their regional context
  • Energy system modeling. 

Other topics in regional public policy by mutual agreement


The team will work to identify a research project that takes advantage of the student's area of interest or specialization. The student's responsibilities would be to work with Cooper Center staff and others to carry our research initiatives in support of activities at the Center. Any project would involve some topic identification, independent research, gathering and analyzing data, developing appropriate models and, of course, research communication, including both written and verbal presentation of results.


Many different disciplines would be useful: economics & finance, political science, engineering, regional science & planning, computing & data science and public policy. Since their projects span a wide variety of policy areas, the team is open to matching a project to a variety of interested candidates.


In order to meet the goals outlined above, this internship may span multiple terms. The department will work with the student on setting a weekly schedule that is mutually agreed upon and meets the PhD+ internship expectation of up to 200 hours per semester. 


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