Tarleton in D.C. program offers students unique Spring Break experiences

Tarleton State University students participating in the 2015 Tarleton in D.C. program pose in front of the U.S. Captiol during their spring break study-away in the nation's capital city.

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STEPHENVILLE (March 19, 2015) — The 2015 Tarleton in D.C. program over Spring Break offered unique opportunities to 15 students who visited the nation’s capital last week.

The program sponsored by the College of Liberal and Fine Arts’ Department of Social Sciences included tours of the U.S. Capitol and the National Archives, cultural events in Georgetown and the Kennedy Center, and a visit to the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. In addition, students had time to visit and tour memorials, museums and other sites on their own.

For most of the students, the D.C. trip was an Applied Learning Experience (ALE) connected to courses they are taking this semester. Nine students are in a Federal Government survey course. Their focus was on a broad engagement with institutions, culture and events to connect both the course material and their majors with the function and seat of federal government.

Four of the students are taking a problems course on U.S. Public Policy in which they are studying the policymaking process. These students contacted and scheduled interviews with policy analysts at major institutes and think-tanks in D.C. The group also was joined by two history graduate students: one conducted research at the National Archives for her thesis project and the other examined Greek and Roman influences on the American Founding.

Dr. Eric V. Morrow, coordinator of the program and instructor for both courses, developed the 2015 D.C. trip to give students an opportunity to experience the nation’s capital in a unique way. On Monday, the group received a guided tour of the Capitol building, organized by Rep. Mike Conaway’s office. The day concluded with an evening dinner at Café Bonaparte in Georgetown and a trip to the famous Georgetown Cupcake shop.

After a free day on Tuesday, the group had a private tour of several galleries at the National Archives on Wednesday, with time to view the Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights before the building opened to the public.

On Thursday, the group was hosted at the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates. After refreshments and a presentation on the UAE, students asked questions and discussed a wide range of topics with Embassy staff. Students also were presented gifts. In the evening, the group attended events at the Kennedy Center, including a concert by the National Symphony Orchestra with compositions by French composers influenced by Iberian themes and travels, and the long-running comedy-whodunit, Shear Madness.

Reflecting on the quality and experiences of the program in D.C., students said the following:

“Washington, D.C. is rich with culture and history,” said Chelsea Gadoury, political science major. “I was able to visit and see the cornerstones of politics that most students only hear about in class. I would encourage everyone to take advantage of this opportunity.”

“Overall, this trip was highly enjoyable, and I thank Tarleton for allowing me the opportunity to become a more cultured American citizen,” added Jason Smith, psychology major.

“Although our country is based on clear political principles, experiencing the evolution of our country from the hub of our nation gives a unique perspective of the working machine of our nation’s political and economic system,” noted Cory McCray, history/psychology major. “Every citizen should spend time in our nation’s capital and experience the foundations of our country and the constant evolution that our nation is undergoing.”

Plans are under way to continue the program in 2016, offering the ALE opportunity to students through a Federal Government course and a course on public policy. In addition, other Tarleton programs are asked to encourage participation of students in upper-level policy courses. Opportunities for research and interviews at policy centers, federal agencies and with officials will be available.

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