With over a third of Patterson School graduates contemplating public service careers, it is important for students to become deeply aware of how government actually functions in the international sphere. This is accomplished through regular class work and a careful mix of on-campus and off-campus outreach activities.
Government officials comprise a significant portion of speakers and visitors coming to the Patterson School each year. These officials may be foreign or domestic, civilian or military, at the peak of their profession or at the very beginning. Their presentations and interaction with students provide invaluable personal insight into the effective conduct of political and economic statecraft.
Like corporate visits, trips to government headquarters and operations offer unique perspectives on the myriad tasks advanced by civil servants. Watching Secretary Kerry roll out the new Syria policy was priceless. Spending a day exploring how federal agencies operate the US-Canadian border, or observing training for American and foreign officials in how to safeguard nuclear facilities and respond to potential incidents, can be simultaneously enlightening and frightening. The same can be said of seeing CDC's Emergency Operations Center in action. Designed to respond 24/7 to pandemics (like Ebola) and other global health crises, the actions of these watch officers can impact the lives of millions.
Other activities range from attending the State Department's noon press briefing in Washington, D.C. and sitting with planners at the Pentagon to dropping by an Embassy or Consulate to huddle with the Ambassador or Consul General. There is an art to how press spokesmen parry reporters' questions and keep on message and a choreography to how Senate and House Armed Services staffers work with Department of Defense officials to finalize a budget that really only becomes clear when witnessed firsthand. Foreign diplomats assigned to missions in the US are often their country's finest and they frequently provide insights that only those who know us best can divine.
Visiting military bases to hear from senior commanders (like Major General H.R. McMaster) about future strategy or to meet officers and soldiers just back from Afghanistan can be particularly instructive, providing a personal perspective on the challenge and human costs of advancing national interests in war. Recent stops have included nearby Fort Knox and more distant Fort Benning and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
All such outreach provides opportunities for government agencies to showcase the range of professional opportunities they offer. The engagement also affords the Patterson School the chance to showcase the considerable talent and expertise of our students. As with corporate visits, such interaction can result in quality internships or career employment.