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

Course Details

The Penn in Washington courses are designed to take full advantage of our presence in Washington. All faculty are policy experts in their field who capitalize on their impressive networks to introduce you to an array of fascinating D.C. insiders. While the courses are rostered as Penn political science courses and mirror the rigor of a PSCI course you might take on campus, they are less theoretical and more practical. Written assignments are similar to what you might be expected to produce for an employer in Washington, and oral and written communication skills are emphasized. All classes encourage a high degree of student interaction and engagement with speakers and faculty. 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 are not the same as on campus.

From recent students:

  •  PIW made me a very strong student in my major; I became a better writer and was able to apply what I was learning in my more theoretical classes on campus to the real policy process.
  •  My policy proposal that I wrote on US strategies in the Northern Triangle helped frame my thesis in poli sci and my final paper for Josh’s class helped kickstart my desire to be an international lawyer, so it helped my future law school academics. 
  •  My work and PIW research topic informed my senior thesis and my experience at AEI led me to work for a think tank now that I have graduated.
  •  During my time in DC, I focused on foreign policy as part of my semester-long research into the entities and structures that restrict and enable a wide range of operations in the policymaking realm. As a result, I gained an in-depth understanding of the various topics of foreign policy. In particular, I became very intrigued by the concept of international trade and its implications on the countless agreements/treaties/interactions that bring different governments together to maintain a strong global economy. Now that I am back on campus, I want to take my interest to the next level by embarking on a research project that involves addressing some of the most complicated issues related to the topic. Because most of the discussions I had in DC and the think tank events I attended focused on the dangerous implications of the lack of a strong legal framework to ensure fair and equitable trade in the wake of the technological revolution, I hope to contribute to the important discussions surrounding this topic.
  •  As part of my semester I did a lot of work and research on Medicaid and work requirements. I am planning on now making this the topic of my honors thesis. In addition, I now realize that I might want to pursue a career in health policy at the community level instead of the global level, which is a huge revelation. 
  •  My internship was with the Department of Justice, Office of Immigration-Related Unfair Employment Practices which litigated cases related to illegal immigration-related discrimination in the context of employment law. My experience informed my decision to write about immigration in my PIW semester research topic which was about E-Verify. My political science thesis would end up also being about immigration, specifically about the constitutionality of two executive actions issued by the Obama Administration: Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and the subsequent, but struck down, Deferred Action for the Parents of Americans (DAPA). My PIW experience cemented my interest in immigration and positioned me to start thinking about what my thesis would ultimately be. 
  •  Students who do the PIW semester come back with an appreciation for the kind of writing that is most used in DC, ie. memos, op-eds, etc. Taking the opportunity to bridge the gap between academic and policy writing is immensely helpful.
  •  The professors at PIW are experts in their field and had wonderful networks they reached out to for speaker events who enriched conversations in the classroom. PIW coursework offers a unique curriculum in Political Science because content is more pragmatic/practical and hands-on, it's a nice complement to the strong theoretical coursework we receive back at Penn's campus.  Not only do the professors support and challenge PIW students academically, they are also a wonderful resource for professional development.
  •  PIW immensely impacted how I would complete my final year at Penn in a positive way from my thesis topic to classes I would take and it better prepared me to figuring out what I wanted to do after Penn. I'd recommend PIW to anyone interested in policy or DC.

 

Fall 2019 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.

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, Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at the Center for American Progress 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

 

Spring 2020 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 Congress and the President: Balance of Power

How do the Constitution’s checks and balances work in practice? And where are they not working? This course examines the fault lines between Washington’s two most powerful institutions — Congress and the President — how they clash, and where they work together. Students learn how Congress and the President share and compete for power in lawmaking, spending, investigations, nominations, foreign policy, and impeachment. The course is designed to foster skills in formulating strategies for conducting policy in an environment of institutions competing for power.

Faculty: Bill Dauster

 

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.  The intent of this class is to enable you to begin your career in politics or international affairs with the necessary baseline understanding of how foreign policy is created and implemented.

Faculty: Dr. Stephen Epstein, Senior Advisor, U.S. Department of State