GW Political Management Goes Global

International advocacy program will include immersion residencies around the world.

GW students and GSPM Director Mark Kennedy in Brazil
GW students and GSPM Director Mark Kennedy visit Brazil's Congresso Nacional during a Spring 2014 global immersion course.
March 31, 2014

By James Irwin

The first cohort of students in the Graduate School of Political Management’s Master of Advocacy in the Global Environment program will need to have their passports ready. They’ll be using them often.

GSPM’s newest master’s program—a 39-credit degree launching this fall that will focus on international political management, legislative advocacy and public relations strategies—will include global perspectives residencies where students will travel abroad and meet with influencers who shape decisions in countries and regions worldwide.

“This is not a trip where we send students to go see monuments,” said GSPM adjunct professor David Rehr. “It’s a weeklong intensive in-country experience. When our students come back they will have a firm understanding of how to affect decision-making in that country and region.”

The trips last a week and are only one part of the new program, unveiled by GSPM on Monday, but they are at the heart of the curriculum. The residencies are attached to courses devoted to a specific city or country. In the weeks leading up to a particular residency, classes will learn about the history, commerce and leaders of that region.

The residencies developed out of a series of global immersion trips GSPM Director Mark Kennedy has led to Istanbul, Brussels, Hong Kong and Sao Paulo, where GW students have met with members of parliament, governors, embassy officials, government affairs representatives from major corporations, public affairs firms, local and international media, and other high-powered decision makers. Mr. Kennedy, a former member of Congress and international consultant, recognized the value of offering immersion trips in a degree program.

“From the very beginning we anticipated launching this master’s,” he said. “The trips are a good thing to do unto themselves; they’re even better partnered with the kind of skills-based training offered in the other courses within this new program.”

The result, Dr. Rehr said, will be a program loaded with experiential learning that “builds on existing GSPM programs—political management, strategic public relations, legislative advocacy—and takes it out into the world.” Global perspectives residencies in Brussels, London, Hong Kong, Sao Paulo and Istanbul, and their respective courses, will complement a core curriculum that includes classes titled “Cultural Aspects of Global Engagement” and “Comparative Political Management Environments,” designed to examine how culture and political structure affects global advocacy.

“If I’m going into a new country, how do I meet with people—how do I negotiate with them?” Mr. Kennedy said. “Regarding government decision making, [Americans] come at it from a congressional perspective: We elect our representatives directly by voting for specific people, not the party. But many other countries are parliamentary, not congressional. Those types of differences in the various political decision-making societal structures around the world are important to understand.”

GSPM expects a first cohort of around 15 students. The program is designed to prepare them for careers in many capacities, including frontline lobbyists, strategy consultants and legislative or regulatory advisers. The school also announced the creation of an 18-credit graduate certificate in global public relations Tuesday, which also begins this fall.

These program additions, and last month's announcement of curriculum changes to the political management track, are reflective of trends in the global market and in the careers of GSPM graduates, especially in international relations, digital communication and data analysis.

“This program has broad applicability, and it’s a skillset the world needs,” Mr. Kennedy said. “We’re excited about the positive impact this degree can have, not just at GSPM and GW, but, we hope, the world.”