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Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics hosts program on public affairs, politics for U. students

The Undergraduate Associates Program at the Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics includes a set of courses on American politics, government and policy specifically designed for students, as well as an internship requirement. – Photo by

The Rutgers Eagleton Institute of Politics has extended the deadline to apply for its Undergraduate Associates Program, said Sarah Kozak, coordinator of the program.

She said the program is an interdisciplinary certificate program that focuses on American politics, government and policy specifically designed for students during their last three semesters at Rutgers. The application is available until Nov. 1 at midnight and is open to Rutgers juniors graduating in either May or December of 2022, she said.

“You don’t have to be a political science major or minor — you can be from any school or department or campus at Rutgers University,” Kozak said. The program aims to develop a cohort of around 25 students each year.

The Eagleton Institute of Politics itself was founded in 1956 after suffragist and activist Florence Peshine Eagleton died and gave money to the university to create an institute that looked into civic affairs at the time, Kozak said.

The first program created at Eagleton was the Graduate Fellowship Program in 1958 but engagement was also needed at the undergraduate level, so in 1974 the Undergraduate Associates Program was created.

The program is a partnership between Eagleton and the Rutgers Department of Political Science, consisting of a series of three courses and an internship, Kozak said.

She said the courses are taken one per semester starting in the spring semester of the student’s junior year. The set of courses consists of Practice of Politics, which focuses on power in politics, the Internship Seminar, addressing leadership and professional skills along with the 140-hour internship requirement, and Processes of Politics, engaging with the politics of choice and decision making.

Students in the program are required to complete an internship over the summer between their junior and senior years or during their fall semester senior year. This flexibility is to be accommodating to students' plans such as study abroad or having to work over the summer, she said.

“One of the key aspects of this program, and I think (of) Eagleton in general, is that it’s flexible and adaptable to what best suits the students and also adaptable to what’s currently going on in our country and in the world of public affairs and politics,” Kozak said.

To bring out an experience that reflects the world of public affairs and politics, the courses are conducted in an interactive seminar-style manner along with special opportunities to engage with many guest speakers, past notable guests being U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Kozak said.

She said some of the interactive activities participated in class span group activities like the students solving the federal budget, a city council simulation and tying in literature to analyze the role of politics in famous works such as Shakespeare.

“As far as the methods that we use to teach these subjects, (they) are very creative, and (these courses are) not your normal lecture hall type of class,” Kozak said.

To apply, interested students can access the application form via Eagleton’s website. Kozak said that along with the form, students are required to attach their unofficial transcript, resume, two letters of recommendation and a 500-word essay expressing their reasons for interest in the program and career goals.

The letters of recommendation need to be emailed to [email protected] by the referees, and letters received soon after the application deadline will still be accepted.

Students who complete the program get an official notation on their transcripts of their participation and are connected to many opportunities through the program’s alumni network in addition to the Eagleton network of visiting associates and political practitioners.

Kozak believes this program stands out to help train the next generation of leaders in politics and public service due to its interdisciplinary nature and the opportunities it brings students to become more directly involved.

“(The) political science department is great, but a lot of times it focuses on theory and concepts," she said, “where (the Eagleton Institute of Politics focuses) more so on engagement and action.”

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