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"It's like drinking from a firehose."
It's a phrase often heard in the hallways at Harvard Kennedy School to characterize the student experience enriched not only through classroom instruction but also through a seemingly limitless number of brown bags, discussion groups, public Forums and other events where public officials, thought leaders and others engage directly with students in informal settings.
One such resource is the Fellows and Study Groups program at Harvard’s Institute of Politics (IOP), which offers a terrific opportunity for students to learn from leading public servants, political practitioners, journalists, diplomats, and others. IOP Resident Fellows maintain an office on campus during which time they lead weekly not-for-credit seminars – open to both graduate and undergraduate students – on a wide variety of issue areas, often featuring guest speakers at the highest levels of politics and public service. Study group topics range from local to global issues, and are offered in a variety of formats including project-based working groups, skill-building workshops, and traditional Q&A-based discussion groups.
“Study groups offer a nice break from the classroom that can supplement a Harvard Kennedy School education in an exciting way,” said Trey Grayson, director of the IOP. “For eight weeks during the semester, students have an amazing opportunity to re-live campaign war stories, personally interact with leaders in public service and hear how top political practitioners broke into the field. You can’t get that chance anywhere else.”
Resident Fellows also make themselves available to the campus community by holding weekly office hours during the semester, offering an opportunity for students to meet with top political practitioners and discuss issues of interest or brainstorm ideas for pursuing a career in public service. Fellows also frequently serve as guest speakers at student organization events elsewhere across the university.
IOP Fall Fellow Mo Cowan, who served as U.S. Senator from Massachusetts between February-July 2013, believes his study group, “Impressions of the Accidental Senator,” can be instructive to those beginning to explore political public service careers.
“We are going to bring in practitioners to discuss ways in which new entrants to the political process can have influence through roles as campaign or governance staff,” said Cowan.
Other IOP Resident Fellows for Fall 2013 include: Ginny Hunt, Google strategy principal; Sasha Issenberg, Slate columnist and author; Karen Mills, U.S. Small Business Administration administrator (2009-13) and member of President Obama’s cabinet and economic leadership team; Beth Myers, adviser (2012) and campaign manager (2008) for Mitt Romney’s presidential campaigns; and Ana Navarro, CNN/CNN Español political commentator and top aide to Jon Huntsman’s 2012 and John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaigns.
Visit the IOP blog to read exclusive Q-and-A interviews with the Fellows and the Institute’s Study Groups page for more information on the Fellows and their discussion topics for the fall.