Students grilled policymakers on C-SPAN this month during a winter break Inside Washington academic seminar series in Washington D.C.

At the same time, four Suffolk students took part in the Camp David III Simulations, also in Washington, which allowed them to negotiate in a simulation of an international summit based on the talks that produced the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace accord.

Both programs are offered by The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.

Direct engagement with leaders

The Inside Washington 2011 seminars "provided our students with an opportunity to interact with elected officials and learn about the complexities of the political process,” said Government Professor Brian Conley, who guided 16 participating students during the two-week academic experience.

“It’s a wonderful learning experience to have a ground-floor, direct engagement with these political leaders in our nation’s capital,” said Conley.

Through daily lectures, site visits, tours, and special events, the Inside Washington seminar provided students an opportunity to witness the political process and the creation of public policy.

“It was an eye-opening experience to be behind the scenes of what goes on in the United States Congress and Senate,” said Karl Hoffman, a senior majoring in Government and History. “And it was a really interesting time to be in Washington because of the transition of control from Democrat to Republican in the U.S. House of Representatives.”

Discord & impact on process

During the first week's seminar, “New Congress,” speakers discussed the causes and effects of polarization and its impact on the legislative process. They also analyzed specific legislation and discussed the interaction between party leaders in Congress and President Barack Obama.

The second week's seminar, “Politics and the Media,” included presentations from journalists, former press secretaries, and academics.

Students on C-Span

Select Inside Washington sessions were televised on C-SPAN, and Suffolk students were included in the broadcasts for the second straight year. Students posed questions to policymakers on topics including:

•Health care •Administration of voting systems
•The 2010 census •Immigration legislation
•The future of news reporting
Students kept journals and were evaluated on their participation. They also will prepare book reviews and write essays about their experiences in Washington.