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Integrated Learning: Developing a Thematic Course and Internship Program in Washington DC
Unformatted Document Text:  and experiential learning. The basic structure of an integrated, thematic approach seems to be present. However, as you can see in Appendix A, this is not the case for most internship programs. The far more common approach is some basic American government or policy courses, augmented with an elective or two, and an internship largely without constraint. Although many students will have wonderful experiences in such programs, the additional benefit to be garnered by an integrated approach would seem to far outweigh the marginal costs associate with the necessary structural changes. Assessing the Integrated Approach: Is it Worth the Effort? What are the costs associated with an integrated, academically rigorous approach? Without question the integrated, thematic approach has great start-up costs. And, if the themes are to rotate as do those at William & Mary, this start-up cost is incurred not once, but persists semester after semester. Prior to the beginning of each semester, the faculty and program directors (though the program director does remain a constant in this equation) work together to arrange a program in which internships are tailored to the course theme and a seminar schedule composed largely of outside speakers and practitioners is developed. The faculty director must then provide some organizational structure to the seminar as well as develop readings, sometimes in conjunction with a speaker, appropriate to the course and the speaker’s topic. While this may seem daunting, reaching out to alumni in the Washington DC area and using their connections is a great asset in building a database of internship opportunities as well as Washington DC practitioners who are willing to work with students and faculty. Having the participation of faculty who are familiar with, or have 15

Authors: Nemacheck, Christine.
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and experiential learning. The basic structure of an integrated, thematic approach seems
to be present.
However, as you can see in Appendix A, this is not the case for most internship
programs. The far more common approach is some basic American government or
policy courses, augmented with an elective or two, and an internship largely without
constraint. Although many students will have wonderful experiences in such programs,
the additional benefit to be garnered by an integrated approach would seem to far
outweigh the marginal costs associate with the necessary structural changes.
Assessing the Integrated Approach: Is it Worth the Effort?
What are the costs associated with an integrated, academically rigorous approach?
Without question the integrated, thematic approach has great start-up costs. And, if the
themes are to rotate as do those at William & Mary, this start-up cost is incurred not
once, but persists semester after semester. Prior to the beginning of each semester, the
faculty and program directors (though the program director does remain a constant in this
equation) work together to arrange a program in which internships are tailored to the
course theme and a seminar schedule composed largely of outside speakers and
practitioners is developed. The faculty director must then provide some organizational
structure to the seminar as well as develop readings, sometimes in conjunction with a
speaker, appropriate to the course and the speaker’s topic.
While this may seem daunting, reaching out to alumni in the Washington DC area
and using their connections is a great asset in building a database of internship
opportunities as well as Washington DC practitioners who are willing to work with
students and faculty. Having the participation of faculty who are familiar with, or have
15


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