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Teaching Transferable Skills: Juan Pablo Martínez Guzmán

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Students presenting in front of bookcase
Students present their senior capstone projects to policy professionals.
Juan Pablo Martinez Guzman

A day in the classroom of assistant research professor Juan Pablo Martínez Guzmán can include anything from using Excel in order to analyze public expenditure policies, to presenting a public finance case study.

“Hands-on learning shows students how to go beyond just thinking about an issue,” Martínez explains. “They’re learning how to explain their thought process, deliver recommendations to their bosses, and take multiple sources of information and put them together to help a policymaker make an informed decision.”

In addition to teaching policy courses at the University of Maryland, Martínez’s current projects include studying the effectiveness of policies to enroll informal workers in public pension systems in Latin America, as well as U.S. state governments’ approaches to forecasting tax revenues in the wake of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. He holds a PhD in policy studies from UMD and master’s degrees in economics and public administration from the Maxwell School of Syracuse University.

Before joining the School of Public Policy, Martínez worked at the Inter-American Development Bank, where he focused on governance reforms in Latin American and Caribbean countries.

I ask students to do the assignments in a way that can be helpful when they graduate in transferring those skills to the job place
Juan Pablo Martínez Guzmán Assistant Research Professor

Now, he is able to share his experiences with students in four courses: Policy 303: Public Economics: Raising and Spending the People’s Money, Policy 400: Capstone, Policy 670: Finance, and Policy 688T: Team-Based Policy Lab.

“I ask students to do the assignments in a way that can be helpful when they graduate in transferring those skills to the job place,” says Martínez. “When they are here, they are able to debate, to share a room and discuss ideas in a civilized manner. Hopefully, they will continue this throughout their careers.”

In Martínez’s undergraduate senior capstone course, students gain professional experience working in teams to solve issues for external organizations, which have ranged from the American Farmland Trust to the National Defense Industrial Association.

Students present their findings to the clients, as well as SPP faculty and public policy professionals. The interactive focus of the course aligns with Martínez’s teaching philosophy.

“As a school, we are helping to shape people who are going to be on all sides of the political spectrum,” Martínez says. “Our students are so talented. You get the feeling that you are going to hear from them soon, in the news, making changes.”

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