The Washington Policy Design Studio

Utilizing the extensive foreign and security policy expertise of the Institute’s leadership, along with the cutting-edge technology of the Decision Theater, the Washington Policy Design Studio (PDS) brings Arizona State University students to Washington for a full semester of intensive class work in the art of foreign policymaking, combined with an internship in the Washington policy community.

Students participate in a weekly seminar at The McCain Institute and research solutions to real-world foreign policy issues. Under the supervision of Senior Director Ambassador Michael C. Polt, and working directly with a retired Ambassador as an adjunct faculty member, students are immersed in a highly creative and intense exercise of learning the process of foreign policy decisionmaking. Students are constituted as a U.S. Embassy staff to a specific country and manage a reality- based diplomatic agenda. They are assigned the actual roles of embassy team members, and together with Ambassador Polt practice how foreign policy is developed and executed in the field. Through research, design and class discussion, participants create a data set relevant to foreign policy implementation, visualized using The McCain Institute’s Decision Theater.

In addition to one day of intense course-work, students participating in the Policy Design Studio intern four days a week at an organization in Washington. Previous students have interned at federal government departments, law firms, lobbying firms, advocacy groups, media outlets and non-profit organizations. Participants also visit government agencies, historical sites and attend networking events. This is a unique opportunity for students in any major to gain valuable skills and hands-on foreign affairs, teamwork and leadership experience.