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Events, alumni networking, courses, and internships for Penn students on campus and in D.C.

Course Details

All students will take three courses for four credits. The orientation course will meet intensively for the first week of the semester followed by periodic meetings for the remainder of the term. The remaining two courses will meet once a week for the rest of the semester. There is a full week break at approximately the 12th week of the program, after completion of the ten week internship period. This falls on Thanksgiving in the fall and in late March/early April in the spring. Note that semester start and end dates and breaks do not correspond with the Penn calendar.


Fall 2018 Courses

PSCI 330-301: PIW Semester Core Seminar: Conducting Public Policy Research in Washington (two credits)

This is the core course of the Penn in Washington semester program and serves as an introduction to Washington, with a particular focus on the practice of policy analysis and research in a policymaking rather than an academic environment. At the end of this course, students should be able to: Identify the various actors involved in the policymaking process and understand how they interact across institutions to influence policymaking; Evaluate competing solutions to a policy problem and identify obstacles to policy adoption; Adjust writing style to suit a particular audience; Conduct research which capitalizes on the full range of resources available in Washington; Deliver a compelling presentation; Conduct effective informational interviews and use a citation manager


Faculty: Dr. Deirdre Martinez, Executive Director, Penn in Washington


PSCI 398-301: The U.S. Presidency: The Purview of Chief Executive Power

The American public expects their President to provide a moral compass for the nation, guide our economy, vanquish our enemies both foreign and domestic, and otherwise lead the free world. But former President Harry Truman once famously said, “The people can never understand why the President does not use his supposedly great power to make ’em behave. Well, all the President is, is a glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.”  This course will examine the American presidency from a number of different perspectives in order to gain a fuller appreciation for the expanse and limits of presidential power. The goal of the course is to gain both a theoretical and practical understanding of the presidency and apply those findings to the actual structure and operations of the office. The course is not intended to promote or defend any specific administration or its policies. Students are encouraged to think critically and express thoughtful and respectful disagreement.  In order to achieve the course’s goals, students will be expected to keep apprised of current events with a focus on developments as they relate to the Trump presidency.  Students are expected to come to class prepared to participate in a rigorous discussion regarding the events of the day and to defend their conclusions and opinions. Students are also expected to engage in thoughtful dialogue with the various guest speakers who have been invited to discuss their experiences in government.

Faculty: Miguel Rodriguez, Partner, Bryan Cave and former White House Director of Legislative Affairs


PSCI 398-302: Today’s Diplomacy: How Does it Really Work?

This seminar will look at diplomacy as the central instrument of contemporary foreign policy. It will examine the role of diplomacy and the responsibilities of the State Department and other actors, explore the resources and techniques available to them, and review the way diplomats have used these tools in recent history. The course will be broken up into three units: the players in diplomacy, the tools of foreign policy and recent case studies.   

Faculty: Abigail Denburg, Analyst, International Government Affairs, Boeing