Political Science Department

Term In Washington D.C.

Fascinated by politics, power, and policy-making? There’s no better place than Washington, D.C. to test your idealistic or cynical principles. Or you might want to see if the Washington political scene is a career after graduation.

Each year (typically in the winter term), for ten weeks, the Political Science Department organizes an academic program in D.C. Union students journey to help save the world, or sink into the political muck, or simply observe and interact with the many complexities and thrills that is Washington. Though the program is selective and competitive, all majors can apply, and no particular prerequisites are necessary (except motivation and enthusiasm).

Each student gains an internship in D.C., and works in that office for 30 hours per week. Union students have worked in the Executive branch, on the Hill (the House or the Senate), or with a think tank, or a non-governmental organization (NGO). These internships could be issue oriented (environment, human rights, foreign policy, tax policy, education, etc.) and/or might be partisan (libertarian, conservative, moderate, liberal, progressive, etc.). Recently, students have interned with Office of Homeland Security, Emily’s List, Human Rights First, Radio Free Asia, Institute for Policy Studies, Center for American Progress, Wilson Center, Public Citizen, and Senators Sanders, Gillibrand, Markey, and Kirk, and Representatives Tonko, Gibson, Lowey, Serrano, Nadler, Hastings, McGovern, and Garrett. The internship counts as a credit class, and is supervised and graded.

Union students also take two academic classes. One is a Political Science credit course, focusing on US Foreign Policy. The D.C. program director organizes outside speakers, seminars and lectures that engage the students with the processes and procedures of making US foreign and security policy, contending perspectives on issues, as well as how policies conflict within the US government and among various interests. The class examines US policy toward regional issues (Russia, Ukraine, China, Israel/Palestine, Iran, Venezuela, South Africa, Syria) as well as policy debates (multilateralism, United Nations, Non-proliferation, terrorism, ISIS, NATO). The second class is an American studies credit class and focuses on Washington, D.C. as an urban space. Because Washington, D.C. is the capital, with the White House, Capital, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, and home of the vast Smithsonian museums, War Memorials, and Presidential Monuments, its public space is important as exemplifying the US in memory and identity. But Washington is also a working city, with fascinating neighborhoods and communities, in terms of race, gender, and class, as well as immigrant flows. The class studies these political-social-economic-demographic changes, and we’ll visit both the public and community spaces that make up Washington, D.C.