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Dickinson Launches New Program in Washington, D.C.

Washington DC

15-week experience to combine internships with globally focused courses

by Tony Moore

With the world more connected than ever, and global issues touching everyone’s lives, Dickinson College will pilot a new program in Washington, D.C., where policy, advocacy, technology, the arts, media and foreign relations all meet.

D.C. through the liberal-arts lens

In partnership with D.C.-based CET Academic Programs, the program will kick off in the spring 2021 semester and will connect the global issues students study in the classroom to practical and local situations in the workplace with industry-leading companies and organizations. Four-day internships and a rigorous lineup of classes taught by Dickinson and CET faculty will form the core of the program.

“We’re building this program as a D.C. immersion experience,” says Samantha Brandauer '95, director of the Center for Global Study & Engagement (CGSE). “Students will grapple with the complex issues of our time, like climate change, racism, inequality, public health and leadership—using the city and its diverse communities and people as well as its history as the backdrop.”

Alongside a course taught by Dickinson faculty, CET faculty will teach an internship course, a D.C. seminar course and one to two elective courses, all accredited by Dickinson. The program replaces Dickinson’s current D.C. program run through the Washington Center and will focus on equity, global solidarity, sustainability and interdependence at the local and global levels—all through a liberal-arts lens.

“Through the internship and connected course students will participate in, observe and reflect on how these issues play out in the workplace, making them better prepared for their future careers,” says Brandauer, who notes that while there are other D.C. internship programs, few are so placed-based and interdisciplinary. Now Dickinson will bring multiple disciplinary lenses to a D.C. experience—to students across the curriculum—while critically examining how national and global issues play out on a local level in the nation’s capital.

Seminars & internships

In the seminar portion of the program, students will explore the city’s historical roots, the influence of its many international communities and the challenges urbanization poses to a growing city. Alongside in-class sessions, students will develop research questions through the course’s experiential elements visiting D.C.’s diverse neighborhoods.

Internship experiences will play an integral role in the D.C. program, and students will spend around 30 hours a week in an internship setting. This will offer students opportunities to integrate classroom theories and gain a more nuanced and sophisticated understanding of the local, regional and global contexts in which they are studying and working. It will include immersion in a professional context, where students will establish an understanding of the external social, political and economic influences that frame and drive their host internship organization’s work.

Looking forward

Following the spring 2021 pilot program, CGSE plans to bring the program back through the governance process to become a permanent facet of Dickinson’s global lineup. At that point, two or three Dickinson-taught elective academic courses will be offered each semester—either a current course augmented to include placed-based D.C. learning or an entirely new course tied to a faculty member’s research/teaching interests.

“I’m excited about how students who do this program will develop skills, knowledge and understanding that will help them mature into critical global citizens focused on creative solutions,” says Brandauer. “It gives them an opportunity to put their Dickinson liberal-arts education into practice.”

The college currently partners with CET on several other initiatives, including programs for international students to study in their home countries, the new Dickinson in Brazil program and the Dickinson-CET Global Leaders Scholarship.

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Published September 18, 2020