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Project Course Leads to Deeper Understanding of Human Trafficking

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Michael Maiden

After earning a law degree, Michael Maiden’s interests drew him to the world of public policy. “I was always interested in how the policies that I learned about at law school were formulated and how that process worked,” he says. “I felt it would be insightful to gain a greater understanding of the policy process.”

During the fall semester of 2018, Maiden enrolled in a project course at SPP, where he was paired with Anjali Kalaria to work with the State Department. “Getting to apply some of the skills learned in the MPP program to a real world problem was both interesting and insightful,” Maiden says. “I’m grateful that SPP provided the opportunity and that the contact we worked with at the State Department was both accessible and engaged in the project.”

Even if you decide not to ultimately pursue a career path in public policy, the analytical skills that the degree teaches help you analyze a problem from a variety of approaches.
Michael Maiden SPP Student

Maiden was able to directly relate what he learned in previous public policy courses to his project. “Before starting the project course, I had taken Professor [Christopher] Foreman’s policy lab on human trafficking,” he says. “That class really helped prepare me for working with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons by giving some insight into the terminology used in the field and to the differences between trafficking and smuggling.”

Throughout the semester, Maiden says he appreciated having the chance to investigate new areas of human trafficking that he hadn’t been exposed to previously. “It was both eye opening and challenging given the scale of the migration crisis in South America,” he says. “I also enjoyed working with a contact in the State Department who provided good feedback that enabled us to improve our skills, but who was also encouraging and appreciative.”

As a University of Maryland staff member, Maiden came to the School of Public Policy for the location and the unique structure of the master’s program. “Comparing the curricula of different schools, I decided that SPP’s focus on experiential learning set it apart,” he says.

Maiden plans to pursue becoming a policy officer as the next step in his career. “Even if you decide not to ultimately pursue a career path in public policy, the analytical skills that the degree teaches help you analyze a problem from a variety of approaches,” he says. “That training helps to guard against the complacent thinking that can lead an organization or government department into trouble.”


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