The Penn in Washington Semester Program is unique for many reasons – it offers a place to live in the heart of D.C., opportunities to network with leaders in Washington, and a chance to hold a prestigious internship during the academic year. One of the most exciting aspects of the program, however, are the classes. Each semester, Penn in Washington offers three classes (which count for four credits) that focus on various aspects of public policy and the political process.
"Not only do we have some amazing professors who are very well-versed in the policy realm, but we are also given the opportunity to meet with other political leaders and policymakers in the city as part of our schoolwork. Doing so has allowed us to fully submerge into the DC political life and understand the policymaking process through our firsthand observations. A few weeks ago, we were given the opportunity to visit the White House West Wing and meet White House staff members in the process. Hearing their insight and visiting the Oval Office was definitely a memorable, once in a lifetime experience!"
Regular Order: Congressional Procedure and the Policy Process, taught by Colleen Shogan
"Once a week we attend a two-hour lecture where we engage in conversation about our weekly reading and discuss with a guest – who is an expert on the topic – how everything works in real government. It’s given us an eye-opening understanding of how Congress works and has opened up networking opportunities with brilliant, successful, powerful people in Washington."
"Dr. Shogan requires a weekly blog post to the canvas website – it’s a great way to ensure student accountability and create an avenue for students to communicate about the topics of the week."
Modern Politics: Presidential Power, taught by Miguel Rodriguez
"Having an instructor who was an instrumental member of the Obama administration and who now works on the lobbying side of politics has provided our class with insight we simply could not gain on campus. We are able to ask hard questions and receive frank answers from Professor Rodriguez as well as from the many guests he invites. We can always voice our own political opinions and know that someone else in the room will have a dissimilar response, forcing us to reevaluate or reinforce our reasoning."
"I have greatly appreciated the ability to learn from not only our professor, an experienced member of the political world who consistently challenges our opinions, but also many other guest lecturers who candidly share their varied experiences. Speaking with and learning from experienced members of both political parties involved in a variety of aspects of government allows me to challenge my political thoughts and gain a deeper understanding of politics."
Politics and Power: Policymaking in D.C., taught by Dr. Deirdre Martinez
The highlight of Politics and Power is the intensive orientation that serves as an introduction to both the class and the semester program as a whole. Students have the chance to meet alumni working for various administrative agencies (including places like the Department of State and the Department of Education), in Congress, and at high-profile think tanks and research institutions. They also tour Washington’s best museums and monuments – including the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Supreme Court!
Throughout the semester, students are matched with a policymaker in D.C. who works in a particular field of public policy. Students work with their mentors to research a specific area in their field of interest, ultimately creating – and implementing – a project that addresses an issue that they discovered through the course of their research.
Penn in Washington’s classes offer a truly unique opportunity to explore the world of D.C. After all, what other program lets you tell a story like this?
"As I was sitting in my Presidential Power class talking to Rob Nabors (White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy for U.S. President Barack Obama) about reactive policy decisions, it hit me: we've been exposed to some very powerful individuals. I can honestly say I could not have had this kind of opportunity anywhere else. This has truly been a fantastic experience!"