PL SC 177N: Politics & Government in Washington, D.C.
Go inside politics and government during a trip to D.C. over Spring Break. The political science program organizes a student trip to Washington, D.C., over Spring Break during every "odd" year. The next trip will take place over Spring Break 2021. The trip is a required portion of the course PL SC 177N (GS/GH). The class is taught by Dr. Robert Speel, Associate Professor of Political Science. Dr. Molly Monahan Lang, Assistant Teaching Professor of Sociology, also accompanied the group for the trip in 2019.
The following information pertains to the 2019 trip and is provided for reference. Information for Spring Break 2021 will be updated closer to the trip.
The exact itinerary will not be determined until February of 2019, but on past such trips, the group has met with all of our local members of Congress, with officials at the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Organization of American States, the U.S. Institute of Peace, and the embassies of Australia, Romania, Botswana, India, Ireland, Canada, Jamaica, Estonia. Bulgaria, Latvia, Slovakia, and Indonesia. We have toured the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, the Department of Justice, the U.S. Capitol, the Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the C-SPAN studios. We have participated in seminars held in the Supreme Court chambers, Ford's Theatre, and the Federal Reserve Board room. Among the highlights of the trip will be meetings or tours with Penn State Behrend alumni who work on Capitol Hill, for federal government agencies, as policy analysts, or as political consultants in Washington.
We always visit Arlington National Cemetery and all the most famous monuments and memorials. Free time is provided to visit museums such as the Newseum, the International Spy Museum, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the various Smithsonian Museums, as well as the National Zoo. Students have also attended major sports and entertainment events in Washington, D.C., during the evening. Students should be aware that most of the places we visit during the week are only available to student groups in Washington and not to individual tourists. Some of the places we visit may provide the only opportunity some will have in their lives to tour certain government buildings or meet with certain officials in Washington.
The trip is associated with the political science course POLSC 177N (GS/GH), and students will be required to sign up for either a three credit or one credit version of the course in order to take the trip. The three credit version of the course will involve class meetings on campus before and after the trip. In addition, the three credit version of the class will involve assigned readings, quizzes, some research, and short papers appropriate for a three credit course.
The one credit version of the course will include participation in the trip and a 10-page paper to be written after the trip. It is intended for students who would like to participate in the trip to Washington, but who don't necessarily need a three credit political science course.
The three credits or one credit can be used for both the political science major and politics and government minor in the subfields of American government or international politics. The course can also be used to fulfill requirements for the Crime, Law, and Psychology minor, and the Crime, Psychology, and Public Policy certificate. And students in all majors can use the course to fulfill general education requirements. Some majors will allow the course to fulfill other specific requirements. The course and trip are open to students in all majors. There is no prerequisite.
In Washington our group will stay at the Virginian Suites hotel. The hotel is located in Arlington, VA, just across the Potomac River from Washington, and is a brief walk from a Washington Metro (subway) stop. Each room in the hotel contains two queen-sized beds, a pull out sofa bed, a full kitchen, television, furniture, private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and closet space. A chartered bus will transport students between campus and Washington.
The cost for the trip, per student, for 8 nights stay in the hotel and the bus transportation to Washington, will be $590 for students who stay 3 to room (by utilizing the sofa-bed). Students who stay two to a room will need to pay more. The low cost of the week in Washington is thanks to financial support from the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Fund and from the Office of the Penn State Behrend Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. In addition, Barbara Welton and Ron Ridgley, Penn State Behrend political science alumni, have donated funds to cover some costs.
Students will also be responsible for their own food and incidental expenses while in Washington, including subway transportation. Students will be able to eat meals cheaply in their rooms if they prefer by using the kitchens present in each room. We will generally go to lunch at area food courts. Students should plan on bringing or having available approximately $200 in personal spending money. ATM bank machines are available at the hotel and throughout Washington. Penn State students registered full-time in Spring 2019 will incur no additional tuition costs for the course or trip.
Brochures with a full explanation of the trip are available at the School of Humanities and Social Sciences office (170 Kochel). To register for the trip and course, students must submit a non-refundable deposit in the form of cash, check, money order, or credit card in the amount of $200 to Penn State University, along with a completed course registration form, course fee form, emergency contact form, and background information form, to Jackie May in the School of H&SS Office, 170 Kochel, by November 29, 2018. The forms are available from Dr. Speel or the H&SS School Office.
The $200 will serve as a non-refundable deposit to reserve a space on the trip. The remaining cost of the trip will be due to Jackie May by January 28, 2019.
Photos from previous trips can be found below.
For more information about the trip and course, pick up a copy of the brochure, or email Dr. Speel with any questions.