Academic Seminar Components

Academic Seminar Components

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Throughout your brief stay in Washington, D.C., you’ll often have an insider’s access to the intersection of society with areas such as policy, international affairs, science and politics. Each academic seminar will take you to places you’ve only seen in pictures, but you’ll also have an option for free time to explore the city on your own or with other students. Unique perspectives, important issues, insider’s access and distinguished speakers form the basis of every academic seminar available only through The Washington Center.


There are three main components of The Washington Center’s Academic Seminars that create this extraordinary learning opportunity. Please click on the links to learn more about these components.


  1. Speakers
  2. Site Visits
  3. Small Group Sessions


Academic Seminars are designed to deeply explore a major topic of the year and the inner workings of national and international institutions. Lectures and panels of relevant and timely leaders create a context in which to learn about the issue at hand. One of the highlights of The Washington Center’s Academic Seminars is the access you’ll have to some of the day’s most prestigious newsmakers. In addition you’ll have the rare opportunity to question them directly.


Access to the nation’s greatest minds and thinkers is built into every academic seminar at The Washington Center. Depending on the focus of your seminar you might find yourself meeting Howard Dean, former chairman of the Democratic Party; Justice Antonin Scalia, U.S. Supreme Court Justice; H.E. Samir Samaida’ie, Ambassador of Iraq or any of hundreds of prominent men and women whom The Washington Center invites to speak to our program participants.


Past seminar speakers have included:

  • Juan Zarate, Fmr. Deputy, National Security Advisor for Counterterrorism
  • Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff
  • Mickey Edwards, Fmr. Congressman from Oklahoma
  • Ed Gillespie, Fmr. RNC Chairman
  • Juan Williams, NPR News Analyst
  • Brian Lamb, C-SPAN Founder
  • Ann Compton, ABC News
  • Charlie Cook, Cook Political Report
  • Andrea Mitchell, ABC News
  • Sam Donaldson, ABC News
  • Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune
  • Chuck Hagel (R-NE), US Senate
  • Ted Koppel, ABC News
  • Dana Perino, White House Press Secretary
  • Antonin Scalia, US Supreme Court
  • Brian Lamb, C-SPAN
  • Bob Schieffer, CBS News
  • Bob Woodward, The Washington Post
  • Ambassador Nabil Fahmy, Arab Republic of Egypt
  • Ambassador Husain Haqqani, Islamic Republic of Pakistan
  • Mike McCurry, Fmr. White House Press Secretary

Site Visits

The academic seminars are an immersive experience. The Washington Center utilizes the resources of our nation’s capital to ensure students are able to gain a behind-the-scenes perspective on how the country works. Seminars include site visits to government agencies, embassies, think tanks, media companies, and other influential organizations; there are receptions and special events unique to Washington, D.C.


The purpose of the site visits is to give students an opportunity to expand upon the topics addressed by the speakers during the morning sessions. Students are given the opportunity to visit organizations that challenge their way of thinking, and are involved in the day-to-day happenings pertaining to a particular subject. TWC encourages students to ask challenging questions and to delve deeper into topics, allowing a perspective that cannot be found through a textbook.


Past Site Visits have included:

  • Capitol Hill
  • National Education Association
  • Pentagon
  • FBI
  • National Counter Terrorism Center
  • Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • No Labels
  • CATO Institute
  • Voice of America
  • Al Jazeera
  • CNN
  • C-SPAN
  • CBS
  • Heritage Foundation
  • The Center for Responsive Politics
  • The National Press Club
  • Lobbying groups
  • Policy think tanks
  • Embassies
  • National political party headquarters
  • Newseum

Small Group Sessions

Small group discussions, led by a Faculty Leader, allow for spirited give-and-take discussions. Past participants have often stated the small group sessions are their favorite part of the academic seminar experience. These sessions are influential; they’re intense. They give you a level of understanding that’s impossible to achieve in any other way and that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Students refine their perspective and integrate new ways of thinking about the complex and interconnected world around them.


These small group sessions are essential in allowing participants to digest the information presented throughout the day and allow for a candid, open and honest conversation. These sessions will foster an environment that will allow students to express their thoughts without fear of penalty and encourages respectful debate.

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