Southeast Students Studying Global Issues at Washington, D.C., Think Tank

CSIS 2014 JonesCAPE GIRARDEAU, MISSOURI, March 12, 2015 – Thirty Southeast Missouri State University students will participate in a five-day seminar in Washington, D.C., during spring break March 15-20, discussing global issues in business, the environment, politics and cyber-security at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

Southeast is one of just four institutions nationally selected to partner in student seminars with CSIS and it is the only university that participates in a week-long CSIS program. The think tank, located in Washington, D.C., is made up of scholars and board members who advise the federal government on significant social, economic, environmental and political global issues. CSIS experts hold extensive credentials in the public and private sectors and offer a unique perspective on global issues based on their firsthand experiences in the policy world.  They are often asked to advise presidential administrations and Congress regarding policy formation.

The students attending are enrolled in the UI498 Senior Seminar course, which allows them to earn University Studies credit for their participation. The research-based course revolves around a detailed preparatory study of the Seven Revolutions, which are the global trends that will profoundly affect the world by 2035. In addition to the seminar at CSIS, students will present their research to the campus and larger community via the Southeast Missouri State University Student research conference April 22 and 23.

“CSIS is one of the leading non-partisan think tanks in the world. Our Southeast students get the opportunity to interact, in an intimate board-room type setting with some of the leading policy researchers of today.  These are the researchers who advise our governmental leaders and other influential groups, on the prominent global issues of the present and future,” said Dr. Willie Redmond, professor of Economics and lead instructor for the CSIS course.

As part of their week-in-residence at CSIS, students will take part in a crisis simulation activity. During the simulation, students gain an opportunity to role-play as a policy –making body and find a solution to an on-going problem presented to them.

“During the simulation, CSIS staff places the students in a setting where they must act as a policy-making group such as the United Nations or the President’s Cabinet, etc.  The students are then presented with a problem and it is subsequently their task to provide a solution to this problem. The conditions of that problem tend to be changed, as they are in the middle of formulating this solution (just as it does in the ‘real-world’).  This part of the program is closely aligned with the ‘experiential’ focus that we have at Southeast,” said Redmond.

“Taking part in CSIS was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. To get the opportunity to visit one of the more beautiful and politically influential cities in the world while sitting next to some of the most respected individuals in public policy is something I will never forget,” said Amber Cason of Springfield, Illinois, and past CSIS participant. “You really get the opportunity to understand that we are all connected as global citizens and that the actions of others around the globe can impact us all and to grow professionally, regardless of the field you’re in. I am so proud to be an alumna of this astounding program and I urge everyone to apply and try to get the opportunity to go. It will be an experience you will never forget.”

Students selected to attend represent every college and regional campus within the university. They were each nominated by their deans or the Office of the President for participation in the seminar.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to meet and learn from some of the great minds that not only push our nation in a better direction, but the global community as a whole,” said Tyler Sayer of O’Fallon, Missouri.

Students selected for the trip are eligible for scholarships provided by Southeast’s president, provost and deans. Students will be accompanied on the trip by the four Southeast faculty members who are teaching the course, as well as other Southeast officials including President Kenneth W. Dobbins. Southeast faculty members teaching the course include Dr. Willie Redmond, Department of Economics and Finance; Dr. Sara Garner, Department of Human Environmental Studies; Dr. Hamner Hill, Department of Political Science, Philosophy and Religion; and Dr. Michelle Kilburn, Department of Criminal Justice and Sociology.

“One over-riding theme that I have heard from past students is that it is an ‘eye-opening’ experience. Students have noted that after having this involvement, they are naturally more aware of the world around them and how they can fit into that changing framework,” said Redmond. “Along with that, I can see that it is a confidence-builder for many of the students.  On one hand, they realize that with some background preparation, they are able to sit down and converse with these very distinguished people.  However in addition to that, through their interaction with people on the ‘Young Professionals Panel’ (a group of 20-somethings who are working at CSIS) they realize that many of the people who work in D.C. are from similar small towns and/or from similar quality regional universities, such as Southeast.  That is indeed, significant.”

The CSIS seminar is held once a year during the spring semester and open to students who have a minimum of 60 credit hours and no more than 90 credit hours at the start of their spring semester, a 3.0 grade point average, have demonstrated leadership on and off campus, and been referred by two references (one of which being a Southeast faculty or staff member) along with a letter of recommendation.