Thirty-four Elon students recently attended a dual seminar program, Inside Washington, held at the Washington Center in D.C. Both the freshman International Fellows and the junior Teaching Fellows took part in the program.

The seminars discussed a broad range of subjects, including the fairly recent establishment of Super PACs, past presidents and political comedians.

“With my lack of political knowledge prior to attending these seminars, I learned a great deal,” said junior teaching fellow Ethan Luke. “More than anything, the seminars helped me to understand that more of the American public needs to become involved and educated on current issues. As future educators, it is imperative for us to be knowledgeable about politics not only concerning education, but any policies that could affect our students.”

[quote]More than anything, the seminars helped me to understand that more of the American public needs to become involved and educated on current issues.[/quote]

Speakers from both sides of the political spectrum offered insight into the culture of politics and the complexities of the current campaign.

“I was exposed to a myriad of people with different views, which made reviewing and modifying my own beliefs and ideals a much healthier process than if I had only had access to one side of the issues,” Luke said.

Inside Washington is part of the Washington Center’s larger Campaign 2012 program, which includes seminars scheduled for later this year focused on the Republican and Democratic National Conventions as well as the Presidential Inauguration.

The two seminars attended by Elon students were held during the first two weeks of January, and each convened for one week. The first, In Pursuit of the Presidency, focused mainly on the presidential campaign process while the second, Politics and Media, concentrated on the role of mass media in determining the future president.

“Students who attended these seminars gained a better understanding of the nomination process, the intricacies of the electoral process and what it takes to run in a national campaign,” said Maha Neouchy, public relations coordinator at the Washington Center. “In addition, students learned about the issues and challenges that face the United States.”

Mike Harney, legislative director for North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan, took questions from students following a seminar.

“I particularly enjoyed talking to (him) about how the state of North Carolina benefits from current educational policies, specifically No Child Left Behind,” said junior teaching fellow Whitley Dozier.

More than 15 individuals spoke at the seminars, including several prominent political and news correspondents such as Brian Lamb, C-SPAN president and CEO and Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary.

“The seminars provided a chance for students to learn about the city of D.C. and to hear about the workings of government from people that are practitioners in the field,” said Adam Short, political science lecturer and faculty adviser of the course.

Luke particularly enjoyed a speech by Ann Compton, White House Correspondent for ABC News Radio.

“Her remark about how President Obama has chosen to remain in Washington and focus on doing his job, rather than to run a campaign was insightful,” he said.