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D.C. study program to begin in September
“Beginning this fall, students from across our campus will be able to study in a specially tailored program of seminars and internships in our nation’s capitol, using it as a laboratory for study, service and exploration,” read a news release issued by Andrew Rehfeld, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science.
The University saw a pressing need for this program.
“For reasons of power, politics, policy, art, culture, [D.C.] is a great place to be,” Rehfeld said. “It’s a place where thousands of college students go to study, to work and to get involved in government and non-profits. It’s the home of multiple institutions. It’s a place that offers you opportunities to get engaged.”
Additionally, the program was created because the University aimed to offer a program that met the rigors of the University’s academics.
“We wanted to have a presence in D.C. with a program that met the academic needs of our students,” said Chris Riha, coordinator for international programs. “That wasn’t already being met.”
The program will provide interested students with the chance to earn up to 15 University academic credits, including a three-credit weekly seminar on “American Democracy and the Policy Making Process,” a one-credit speakers series consisting of talks by a variety of notable scholars, and a three-credit weekly elective.
“I have very high expectations,” Riha said. “I think this program is great because unlike other study abroad programs you get Wash. U. credit…I think it’s exciting as well to have Wash. U. faculty teaching, unlike other study abroad programs.”
Past options for the weekly elective class have included classes on modern wars, Congress and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“The elective courses from the one’s I’ve seen sound really amazing,” Riha said.
Although the program will enable political science majors to fulfill major requirements, students in all majors are invited to apply. Additionally, each undergraduate academic school in the University, as well as the law school, will offer its own program. Students entering their sophomore, junior and senior years will be eligible to apply.
In addition to taking classes, participants will also have the opportunity to participate in numerous internships for four days of the week. The internships will place students in government offices and non-profit agencies and can include research opportunities.
To make the program possible, the University joined a consortium with the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor and the University of California, Berkeley. As a result, Washington University students will be in close contact with students from other universities in their classes, internships and dormitories.
The University will be setting up its own Washington, D.C., headquarters in the DuPont Circle neighborhood of Washington’s northwest quadrant. It will be located next door to the Brookings Institution. The dormitory, which will house students from all of the schools participating in the consortium, will be located within five minutes walking distance of the University headquarters.
Planning for the first class in the fall of this year is currently in the works. Those planning the University’s D.C. program hope to continue offering this opportunity for every semester thereafter.
Reaction to the implementation of the program has been positive.
“I’m really excited about it because of the internship possibilities and just being in D.C.,” freshman Karen Mok said. “It’s hard for someone pursuing political science or something in government to get the connections that people going to school in D.C. would, so I think this is a really good opportunity.”
Freshman Alex Ferris agreed.
“I like to see the school offering unique and educational opportunities to its students and continually expanding its offerings,” Ferris said.