Southeast Students Travel to Washington D.C. for Annual CSIS Think Tank Seminar

EVT-CSISSoutheast Missouri State University senior Haley Bullock says her spring break experience last year at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., “was a great opportunity to sit around the table and have one on one conversations with people who are literally changing the world.

“My favorite thing about CSIS would have to be being able to interact with so many professionals in Washington D.C.,” said Bullock, a psychology major from Malden, Missouri. “It allowed me to realize I can make a difference, if I just try!”

Like Bullock, 30 Southeast students will again participate in the five-day Washington, D.C., seminar during their 2017 spring break, March 13-16. They will discuss global issues in foreign policy, food security, global health and challenges in civil society at the CSIS, a policy think tank.

“At CSIS, we were given a global perspective on a wide variety of subjects,” said senior Varun Sadaphal, an engineering physics major from New Delhi, India. “It helped me expand my outlook towards the world and generated curiosity towards global issues.”

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From left are Brady Nahlik, Dr. Willie Redmond and Bradford Hutcheson.

Southeast is one of just four institutions nationally selected to partner in student seminars with CSIS, and 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 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 13 at the Southeast Missouri State University Student Research Conference on campus.

Dr. Willie Redmond, professor of economics and the project leader for the CSIS program, said, “I have been working with this program for the past eight years and it is my favorite thing that I do on campus. It is wonderful to see how impressed the people at CSIS and the speakers are with the wonderful students who participate in this program. I see world-renowned researchers stay an hour and talk with us, and as they walk out the door they say ‘Wow, these are better questions then I get from the representatives in Congress and from congressional aides.’ They are just really impressed with the knowledge of our students and how they handle themselves on a big stage in front of some important people.  I think that this is a nice reflection on the quality of students that we have and the excellent education that we deliver here at Southeast.”

He continued, “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,” Redmond said.

Sadaphal agreed, saying, “My favorite thing about the CSIS seminar was the simulation activity which put us in challenging scenarios in context of real world situations. We really enjoyed the experience of working in teams to complete our objectives.”

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.

csis1Sarah Monteiro, Dylan Kennedy and Peyton Mogley are among the students who will visit CSIS next week and participate in this year’s seminar in Washington, D.C.

“What I hope to learn at CSIS is the ability to better understand worldwide politics. With the CSIS program, SEMO has allowed each one of us an opportunity to learn about how our country deals with matters of international defense and security, global development and economic integration,” said Monteiro, an international business major from Jackson, Missouri. “I hope to develop better insight on policy initiatives and strategies after being exposed to the knowledge the professionals who are part of the world’s number one think thank have.

“As a soon-to-be law student who plans on possibly joining the political scene in the future, the CSIS program is the perfect opportunity to create connections through networking and getting my foot in the door in D.C.,” Monteiro said.

Kennedy, a corporate communication major from Catron, Missouri, said, “From the individuals that I have talked to, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to expand on our knowledge of the world.  There is no other university that is fortunate enough to discuss these issues and topics with the experts at hand.  Because of this, I feel very fortunate and honored to represent Southeast.”

Mogley, a corporate communication major from Chesterfield, Missouri, says she hopes participating in the CSIS seminar will provide a framework as she prepares to launch a career.

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Southeast students touring the Washington Monument in 2015.

“I am excited I get the opportunity to partake in this seminar because I yearn to travel out of state for an experiential learning opportunity that will allow me to develop global policy and information synthesis skills,” she said.  “This chance to travel will be beneficial to me as a result of the professional nature of my ideal career in entertainment branding and intercontinental promotions.”

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. The Cape West Rotary Club and The White Oak also contributed to this program.  Students will be accompanied on the trip by four Southeast faculty members teaching the course Dr. Willie Redmond, Department of Economics and Finance; Dr. Jim McGill, Department of Chemistry; Dr. Sharon Dees, Department of Elementary, Early and Special Education; and Ms. Beth Adkins, Department of Modern Languages, Anthropology and Geography.

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 nominated 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 Abhishek Yadav and Lauren Potje during a 2015 CSIS session.