CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 14, 24016 – Southeast Missouri State University senior Parker Butler of East Prairie, Missouri, says his spring break experience last year at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., “is your best opportunity to be the most informed citizen you can be.
“Being able to talk to the experts in their field of study was amazing,” said Butler, a mass communication major with an advertising option. “It’s one thing to see it in an article and in the news; it’s another thing to experience firsthand.”
Like Butler, 30 Southeast students will again participate in the five-day Washington, D.C., seminar during their 2016 spring break, March 14-17. They will discuss global issues in foreign policy, food security, global health and challenges in civil society at the CSIS, a policy think tank.
“This was such a unique experience, and the information at your fingertips was wonderful,” Butler said. “This was really my first big experience getting to go to CSIS, and getting to experience the history of our nation’s capital and getting to see Washington, D.C., as a whole was incredible.”
From left are Wesley Cox, Tyler Sayer,Destiny Brooks and Jacob James during last year’s trip to 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 program. The think tank 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 April 21 at the Southeast Missouri State University Student Research Conference on campus.
Dr. Willie Redmond, the project leader for the CSIS program, said, “Much of the week is structured into one-hour blocks where researchers come in and interact with the students in a boardroom-type setting. However, on Wednesday there is an even more interactive exercise, called a “simulation,” where the students are asked to play a predetermined role (member of the President’s cabinet, representative to the United Nations, etc.) where they respond to a global event and ultimately offer policy solutions. The students are given background reading on the general area before they go to D.C. to aid in this process. This exercise tends to be particularly intense, but quite fulfilling for the students.”
Southeast students Bradford Hutcheson, left, and Brady Nahlik toured the nation’s capitol in 2015.
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.
“When I found out that I was selected through the President’s Office to represent Southeast at CSIS, I was ecstatic because I understood what a great opportunity for continued learning, networking, and professional development it would be,” says Shannon Kelley, a communication studies major from St. Peters, Missouri. “I look forward to gaining firsthand experience collaborating with and learning from the experts in their field who are envisioning, influencing, and enacting our country’s national policy today. Though my particular interest is in foreign policy, I am excited to learn about a variety of topics ranging from economics to energy, and how these issues not only influence United States policy, but how our initiatives impact the entire global community.”
Kevin Marquez, a marketing management major from O’Fallon, Illinois, said, “In the future, I want to run my own business overseas, and I want to learn more about what’s going on in the world to help me with my career pursuits. I’m really excited to be with a lot of the world’s leaders and learning from their day to day perspective of what they do and what’s going on in the world. I’m really excited to be in the nation’s capital and be in the presence of real world leaders. This is an opportunity that not many other students have, so I am really excited to take part in this and get the most I can out of it.”
From left are Brady Nahlik, Bradford Hutcheson, Andrea Cox, Austin Cordell and Maggie Eggleston.
Students are selected for the trip by Southeast’s president, provost and deans and are eligible for the John and Betty Glenn CSIS Scholarship and the Erik Peterson CSIS Scholarship. Students will be accompanied on the trip by four Southeast faculty members teaching the course, as well as other Southeast officials including President Carlos and Pam Vargas along with Provost Karl Kunkel. Southeast faculty members teaching the course include Dr. Willie Redmond, Department of Economics and Finance; Dr. James Caldwell, Department of Marketing and Management; Dr. Tamela Randolph, Department of Mathematics; and Dr. Jeremy Heider, Department of Psychology.
“I have heard from past students that this is a ‘life changing’ experience for them,” says Dr. Karl Kunkel, provost at Southeast. “Though this is my first time attending this event, I am interested in seeing students feelings on policy and watching them interact with the world leaders while there. I am excited to see what they take from this experience.”
The CSIS seminar is held once a year during the spring semester and is open to students who have a minimum of 60 credit hours and will have at least one year remaining at Southeast after the seminar. Students also must have a minimum 3.0 grade point average, have demonstrated leadership on and off campus, and been referred by two references (one of whom is a Southeast faculty or staff member) along with a letter of recommendation.
**Photo Caption on Top Photo: From left are Parker Butler, Tyler Sayer and Bradford Hutcheson during a 2015 CSIS session.