Spring Break Course: Politics & Government in Washington, D.C.

PL SC 177N: Politics & Government in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C. directional sign

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-numbered year. The next trip will take place over Spring Break 2023. 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. Maggie Shum, Assistant Professor of Political Science, will also accompany the group in Washington, D.C., in 2023.

The exact itinerary will not be determined until February of 2023, 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 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 many of the places and people 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 3-credit or 1-credit version of the course in order to take the trip. The 3-credit version of the course will involve class meetings on campus before and after the trip. In addition, the 3-credit version of the class will involve assigned readings, quizzes, some research, and short papers appropriate for a 3-credit course.

The 1-credit version of the course will include participation in the trip and a 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 3-credit political science or general education course. The course and trip are open to students in all majors. There is no prerequisite.

In Washington, our group will stay at The River Inn hotel in the Foggy Bottom neighborhood. The hotel is located near a Washington Metro (subway) station. Each room in the hotel contains two queen-sized beds, a pull-out sofa bed, a full kitchen, a television, furniture, a private bathroom, free Wi-Fi, and closet space. Students are responsible for finding their own form of transportation to Washington, D.C.

The cost for the trip, per student, for an eight-night stay in the hotel, will be $600 for students who stay three to a room (by utilizing the sofa bed). Students who stay two to a room will need to pay more. Some travel expenses and admissions fees related to the course are being covered by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Fund and generous donations from some of our alumni and alumnae.

Students will also be responsible for their own food and incidental expenses while in Washington. 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 eat lunch at area food courts or cafeterias. Students should plan on bringing or having available approximately $200 in personal spending money. ATM bank machines are available throughout Washington. Penn State students registered full-time in Spring 2023 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 and course fee form, to Kristen Gincott in the School of H&SS Office, 170 Kochel, by December 2, 2022.

The $200 will serve as a non-refundable deposit to reserve a space on the trip. The remaining $400 cost of the trip will be due to Kristen Gincott by January 30, 2023.

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.

Photos from Previous Trips

Past Programs