According to Steven Jackson, PhD, on-site director, the Washington, D.C., Programs inspire by design.
“Washington, D.C., is a monumental city built to inspire,” he says. “Our programs connect students to history, as well as to leaders who are doing important work today. For example, students recently got to meet with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in a small-group setting.”
According to Jackson, students become acquainted with the people and the policies that affect the world now. They see the coalitions and networks performing critical functions, and thus can imagine themselves contributing at that level.
“When students do internships here, they participate in a small way to big things,” Jackson says. “They work with people with a passion for public service, who become mentors in a way.”
Time in D.C. also prepares students for leadership. “D.C. is a great place to learn how different leadership styles are exercised and begin to imagine what might work best for them,” Jackson adds.
While other universities offer programs in D.C., Jackson says the WUSTL offerings — a mix of course work and internships — are distinguished by four features: First, from its inception, WUSTL’s programs were intended for students from all schools at all levels. Therefore, students are able to share and learn from a more diverse cross-section of the student body than most programs, which focus solely on undergraduates in policy-related fields, Jackson says.
Second, WUSTL students intern four days each week, allowing them to be treated as full-time members of the professional staffs they join.
“Also, our programs uniquely revolve around a core course that both challenges students to respond to leading scholarly work on the policy-making process,” Jackson says, “while simultaneously offering students the chance to bring their internship experiences into class.”
Finally, Washington University students benefit from the university’s partnership with the Brookings Institution, with invitations to events, visits by Brookings Scholars and internship opportunities.
Priscilla Stone, PhD, assistant provost for international education, underscores the importance of the special Brookings relationship. “Washington University is now running the Brookings Executive Education program, which opens up more connections to world leaders for our students,” she says. “We have some amazing students, who are poised to become leaders not just in government and the public sector, but in nonprofits, business, social work, science-related fields and more.”
Stone assumed oversight of the Washington, D.C., Programs in 2012, from founder Kent Syverud, dean of the School of Law. Over three years, Syverud expanded offerings for all students modeled on the platform of a long-standing law school program that sent law students to the capital.