One of the distinctives of the ASP curriculum is the opportunity to conduct fieldwork. Instead of receiving instruction solely inside the classroom and gathering material from the campus library (though, the Library of Congress is just a 10 minute walk away!), ASP students collect their research directly from the source: stakeholders in governmental offices, advocacy groups, marketing firms, and more!
Using our network from over 40 years in DC, we arrange private briefings and small-group interviews with organizations and professionals all over the city. This fieldwork provides opportunities for ASP students to move beyond the question of “What is your position?” and on to more substantive questions like “Why do you believe your position is preferable to other alternatives?” and “What are the most common misconceptions about your positions and how do you respond to them?” With the floor open for more questions, students are able to dig even deeper into these issues and begin processing what this new information means for when they write their own policy memos.
This semester, ASP’s public policy students are meeting with policy stakeholders with an interest in influencing the direction of U.S. immigration policy and U.S.-Mexico relations. On September 15, we went to the hearing room of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs for a private briefing with Jay Sulzmann, the legislative director in a Senate office, to learn more about researching and writing effective policy memoranda.
On September 22, we visited UnidosUS, an advocacy group for the Hispanic community, to meet with senior policy advisor Carlos Guevara (who, previously, was an immigration lawyer and Department of Homeland Security official). Mr. Guevara discussed UnidosUS’ policy positions on several immigration issues we are researching: the H-1B visa, the DREAM Act/Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals, and U.S. refugee policy.
Last week, we went to the Canadian Embassy to meet with Carrie Goodge, the embassy’s trade policy counselor, and Kevin Tunney, one of the embassy’s political counselors. This conversation kick-started our foreign policy studies of two issues: the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Merida Initiative, a security agreement between the U.S. and Mexico. The visit ended with a tour of the Canadian Embassy’s famous rooftop deck overlooking the National Mall.
Looking ahead, we have briefings confirmed with the Heritage Foundation, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. House Speaker’s office. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to see the results!
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