Washington Program

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Students in the Washington Program spend either the fall or spring semester in our nation's capital working at a full-time internship, taking two seminar courses and conducting an Independent Research Project. Outside of work and academics, the Director of the Program organizes guest speakers with prominent political figures, excursions both in and outside of Washington, private tours of locations such as the Supreme Court or the Pentagon, and facilitates learning opportunities through visit(s) to think tanks or the National Library. Students work at a diverse array of organizations, such as the Sierra Club, the Environmental Protection Agency, the White House, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, CNN, the Smithsonian, the Senate Budget Committee, and Amnesty International.

There is no better way to learn about the intricacies of U.S. government and politics and their impact on the world than to spend a semester in Washington, D.C. While our nation’s capital known for politics, it is also a leading hub for international exchange, political economy, arts, culture, history, and news media. 

Center Location

The CMC Washington Program Center is located at 1101 17th Street, N.W., Suite 604, in the heart of downtown. Within blocks of the White House, Farragut Square, and the famed Mayflower Hotel, our address provides a central site for Claremont and its students in Washington, D.C. Students have 24/7 access to our suite where they can study, conduct research, attend courses, meet guest speakers, and relax.

Student Housing

To remain in line with the professional nature of the Washington Program, CMC does not manage housing facilities in the city.  Instead, students collaborate prior to arrival to determine roommate and housing needs and arrange their own independent housing in D.C. During the orientations in Claremont, students are provided the necessary tools and guidance to finding housing and selecting roommates. This information includes descriptions of different neighborhoods in Washington and the surrounding suburbs, a housing resource guide, and specific websites where students can research available housing.

Washington Program students often live together, which reduces costs and eases the challenge of living off-campus in a new city. Once accepted, interns should also discuss Washington housing with alumni of the program, current interns, or any other contacts they may have in the D.C. metropolitan area

Dates

The calendar in Washington corresponds to the academic calendar of the Claremont Colleges. Classes take place in the evenings at the CMC facility. Interns will sometimes take time off from their office work to attend special lectures, hearings, and other activities. The amount of time devoted to work-related experiences is determined by each office. 

Washington Program Director and Faculty

Photo of Majia Harkonen
Maija Harkonen, Ph.D. -  Washington Program Director and Professor of Government

Dr. Harkonen comes to the CMC Washington Program from St. Mary’s College of Maryland where she was the executive director of the Center for the Study of Democracy.   Previous to her work at St. Mary’s College, Dr. Harkonen worked in Helsinki, Finland, where she served as director of strategic partnerships for the Finnish Consulting Group International, Ltd. and led international business development efforts, with a focus on Europe and China, for the U.S. private sector. She holds a Ph.D. from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.

Photo of Matt Glassman
Matt Glassman, Ph.D., Professor of Government

Dr. Glassman has taught courses on and off the Hill on American government, congressional process, congressional-presidential relations, and congressional leadership.  He has worked on the Hill at the Congressional  Research Service (CRS) for ten years. His portfolio included congressional operations, separation of powers, appropriations, judicial administration, agency design, and congressional history. He was detailed to the House Committee on Appropriations as professional staff for the Legislative Branch Subcommittee in FY2010 and FY2011. He holds a Ph.D. from Yale University.

Curriculum

The Washington Program integrates work and study in a four-course credit program. All courses must be completed for a letter grade. Students will normally not have the credit/no credit option on any program courses. The program will permit this option only in extraordinary circumstances (e.g., serious illness) and only with the consent of the course instructor, the program director, and the home campus.

Government 30: Internship in Politics
This course is an intensive internship in which students work five days a week. This full-time presence distinguishes Claremont interns from most other interns and allows them to be treated as regular junior staff and integrated quickly into office routines as trusted employees who can meet deadlines.  Letter grade only.

Government 126: Policy Analysis
This course takes an advanced look at the federal budget in all its component parts, including defense and domestic discretionary spending, mandatory programs, and revenue. Students will learn how the President, through the Office of Management and Budget, puts together his annual budget proposal to the Congress and how Congress does its work to fund programs and legislate on the tax code. Most importantly, the course integrates policy and process with politics so students come away with a practical and comprehensive look at the federal budget. Letter grade only

Government 128: Power, Politics, and Persuasion in Washington
This course examines the mores, folkways, and working styles of the political communities of Washington, DC.  Students will analyze the formal and informal “rules of the game” both through scholarly literature and their own experiences as interns.  They will also study and practice various genres of political writing. Taken as part of the Washington Program. Letter grade only.

GOVT 127: Washington Research Project
This project is designed to provide an introduction to research in Washington and to give students an opportunity to choose the subjects of their research.  The class will begin with an introduction to a few of the research resources available in Washington D.C., such as the Library of Congress, the National Archives, Washington-based online resources, and interviews with influential figures.  Following this introduction, students will select one of the independent study options that follow:

INDIVIDUALIZED INDEPENDENT STUDY: In this option, students will identify a research topic of their choice, related somehow to their internship. They will work with the Program staff to identify an appropriate research supervisor. That research supervisor may be either a CMC faculty member in Claremont or one of the Program faculty in Washington.

Students wishing to get major credit for their research project in Economics, History, International Relations, or Religious Studies may do so with approval of the department chair or program director. In that instance, they would have a supervisor in the appropriate department or program.

Students would confer with their supervisors several times through the semester, would do readings and turn in drafts on a mutually agreeable schedule, and would ultimately submit a 20-25 page research paper.

This option could be selected by anyone on the Program, but would be particularly suitable to students interested in using their Washington research project as a launching pad for their senior thesis.

Government Department faculty available for individualized Independent Study Project supervision effective fall 2018:

  • Hillary Appel
  • Giorgi Areshidze
  • Chris Nadon
  • Shanna Rose
  • Aseema Sinha

Additional faculty will be determined should a student wish to conduct an individualized Independent Study Project for the Economics major (Course Code: ECON 199), History major (Course Code: HIST 199), or Religious Studies (Course Code: RLST 199).

STRUCTURED INDEPENDENT STUDY: In this option, students would pick one from a selection of structured independent study courses developed and supervised by CMC professors in Claremont. There will be options in Government/IR and, depending on the semester, may be options in other fields. Examples could include The Constitution and Public Policy, Ethics and Public Policy, U.S. Foreign Policy Process, The Presentation of History in Washington, DC, and others.

These independent study courses would each consist of a prearranged reading list and set of assignments culminating in a research paper relating somehow to the students’ internships. If more than one student enrolls in a particular independent study course, there will also be some group sessions skyping with the supervisor.

Structured Independent Research Projects for fall 2018:

  • Technology, Security, and Politics or The Politics of Abdication: Congress, Presidency and the Administrative State (Professor Areshidze)
  • Midterm Elections and U.S. Politics (Professor Busch)
  • Donald Trump and American Politics (Professor Pitney)
  • Foreign Policy/Diplomacy in a Multipolar World (Professor Sinha)

Toward the end of the semester all students, no matter which format of Independent Research s/he selected, will make presentations on their research projects.

Internship Placement

Students are responsible for applying for their own internships with the guidance of CMC’s government faculty. In most cases, students begin applying for internships after they have been accepted into the program. Some internships require security clearances and applications due up to one year in advance of the Washington Program deadlines. However, students are not guaranteed admission to the program simply because they have already applied for internships.

Internships span a breadth of areas, such as arts and humanities, business and economics, journalism and communications, international relations and foreign policy, health and human services, and civil rights and legal affairs.

Note to Internship Supervisors

A commitment to full-time internships and their prestigious liberal arts background at the Claremont Colleges make the Washington Program interns among the most professional and sought-after interns in Washington. While working full-time, students study academic topics such as foreign policy, Congress, campaigns and finance, the Executive Branch and leadership, and the modern federal system of administrative government. Students thus apply classroom knowledge to real-world challenges through their 40 hour per week internships. In addition, the connections they make – and the colleagues who serve as mentors – have an enormous impact on their professional lives. Your organization can benefit from the creative minds of the Claremont Colleges’ students.

Please email the Washington Program office if you have an internship opening or if you are interested in having your organization listed as a prospective internship site.

 

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Washington Program Profiles

We recently caught up with Crystal Adams ’12, a dual major in Government and Psychology with a Leadership Series sequence, and asked her a few questions about the time she spent in the Washington Program. It was the Spring Semester of her junior year and, as Crystal explains, the Washington Program was the prime reason she enrolled in CMC.

Q: What specifically drew you to participate in the Washington Program?

Katie Rodihan mugshot

Katie Rodihan ’14 was drawn to CMC by the College’s focus on pragmatic education. What she learned in the fall of 2012 is that the Washington Program is the perfect embodiment of that ideal. For Rodihan, it was an exciting time to be in D.C. with the presidential race in full swing and budget negotiations front and center.

“You learn about issues from all angles: at your internship, in class where your professors help you understand the nuances and strategies at plan, and then new perspectives from your classmates who are working on the same or similar issues at their internships,” she says. “Then you go to work the next day with a more in-depth and well-rounded understanding. That process helps Washington Program students shine as interns.”