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University program provides public service immersion in D.C.

Brown in Washington program offers experience, internships in public policy, politics

By
Contributing Writer
Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Every semester, a group of students heads down to Washington, where they have the chance to immerse themselves in the world of public service on Capitol Hill and receive credit for their adventures. At the moment, nine students are midway through their internships and coursework as part of the third iteration of the Swearer Center for Public Service’s Brown in Washington program.

This program, which is a collaboration between the Swearer Center and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, offers students the opportunity to live, study and intern in Washington. Students this semester are interning at the Brookings Institution, the Democratic National Committee, the Executive Office of the Mayor and the office of U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren D-MA, according to a press release from the Swearer Center.

In addition to internship experience, students will receive credit for three courses designed for the program — PLCY 1825: “The New National Security: Transnational and Cross-Border Issues,” PLCY 1822: “Brown in Washington, D.C. Reflection Seminar (Policy Analysis)” and PLCY 1823: “Brown in Washington, D.C. Practicum,” said Jennifer Romano, program consultant and associate director of academic engagement.

The cohort also receives the opportunity to meet with visiting speakers such as Ben Rhodes, former deputy national security advisor for strategic communications under Barack Obama, Jeffrey Goldberg, editor-in-chief of the Atlantic and Cathy Russell, former U.S. ambassador at-large for global women’s issues, according to the course syllabus.

The program does not require that students be public policy concentrators, Romano said. In fact, they study a variety of subjects as diverse as anthropology and geophysics, and all share an “interest in public service, community engagement (and) engaged scholarship,” Romano added.

The program launched with a week-long orientation that helped the cohort develop relationships. Students spent their first week exploring the city together, which gave them a sense of community, said Catherine Nacier ’19 MD’23. Because the cohort consists of students with eclectic interests and internships, “you really get to see what Brown is meant to be,” she added.

Nacier is a Program in Liberal Medical Education student who is interning at the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. She chose this internship because she is interested in “how one plant can intersect with criminal justice, business and medicine.”

Michael Fuller ’19 has been interested in criminal justice ever since he joined the University’s Petey Greene Program, which brings student tutors to teach in prison classrooms. His choice to intern at the Justice Policy Institute was natural and “a way to propel” his existing interest in public service, he said.

Both Fuller and Nacier believe that this program is an excellent alternative to studying abroad. “It’s a nice way to get off campus without a year-long time commitment or language ability,” Fuller said.

Applying for Brown in Washington was an easy and obvious choice for Timothy Peltier ’19. Previously an intern on Capitol Hill, he “fell in love with being in D.C.,” not only for its location, but also for its “vibrant music scene and amazing history,” he said.

Peltier interns at Warren’s office. “I’m from Massachusetts, and Warren has always been one of my heroes,” he said. Warren’s focus on education, labor and consumer protection policies aligns closely with his own interests.

Nacier and Fuller seem satisfied with the program overall and believe that they receive sufficient support from the University. So far, they have neither regrets nor complaints. Likewise, Peltier recommended the program to anyone who is interested. Brown in Washington is a great way to be “taking what I’ve learned (at the University) and putting it into real life.”

The program can currently accept up to 12 students, and the “selection process has continued to become more and more competitive,” Romano said. Applications for fall 2018 are open and the deadline is tomorrow.