Three first-year political science majors – Aaliyah Dittman, Derik Fenchak and Owen Rynex – recently completed a week-long intensive "Inside Washington" academic seminar in the nation's capital. The program, held at the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, was part of their winter experiential political science course, CPS 350: Inside Washington, taught by Dr. Kevan Yenerall. The seminar's theme was "Preserving Democracy."
While living and learning in Washington, students attended daily plenary sessions, educational briefings throughout the city, and small discussion groups led by their professor.
The seminar centered on topics such as youth voting and civic engagement; media norms and behavior; American foreign policy and the war in Ukraine; economic policy; and campaign finance.
Seminar speakers and panelists featured a diverse and distinguished array of public servants and scholars, including:
· Yamiche Alcindor, Washington correspondent for NBC News, and anchor and moderator, of “Washington Week” on PBS.
· John Della Volpe, director of polling at the Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics, and author of “Fight: How Gen Z is Channeling Their Fear and Passion to Save America” (St. Martin's Press, January 2022).
· Nancy L. Thomas, director of the Institute for Democracy & Higher Education at Tufts University’s Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life.
· Fiona Hill, senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe at the Brookings Institution, and former deputy assistant to the president and senior director for European and Russian affairs on the National Security Council from 2017 to 2019.
· Kathy Boockvar, former Pennsylvania Secretary of State and current president of Athena Strategies, which works with a broad base of organizations, government officials and academic institutions to fortify election security, strengthen democracy and amplify understanding and civil discourse about elections in the United States.
· Alison Dagnes, professor of political science at Shippensburg University and author of “Super Mad at Everything All the Time: Political Media and Our National Anger” (2019).
Dittman, Fenchak and Rynex's briefings included a trip to the U.S. Capitol and discussion with PennWest alumnus Matthew Knoedler '13, who is press secretary for U.S. Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA).
Clarion students also attended a session with the Office of Management and Budget at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.
Distinguished PennWest alumni Christopher Myers '12 and Seth Ickes '17 joined Dittman, Fenchak, Rynex and Yenerall for a professional networking dinner at the historic Old Ebbitt Grill. Myers is governance and administration manager at Voices for Progress, and Ickes serves as a political associate for the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association.