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Fall – Leadership & the American Presidency


The comprehensive nature of the program gives you the academic background necessary to develop into an influential and global leader of tomorrow. Whether you plan to enter politics, business, engineering, the arts, medicine, or the nonprofit sector, there is always a need for thoughtful, civic-minded leaders.

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The academic courses are designed to complement your DC internship experience by offering a thorough examination of leadership and historical lessons from the American presidency, as well as free market global economics. In addition, the internship seminar focuses on professional development and current events shaping today’s political and diplomatic landscape, as well as the impact the media has on policy decision-makers.

ILAP_OvalOfficeThe program includes three required courses for a total of 12 credits.

Students may earn credit for all courses through George Mason University and the classes held in their state-of-the-art-facilities, conveniently located a few metro stops away from student housing in nearby Arlington, Virginia.  GMU was recently named one of the top 100 research universities in the U.S. by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education.

Students should consult with their academic advisor to determine how the courses can be transferred back to their home university.

Course Descriptions

The American Presidency
GOVT 308 (3 credits)

ILAP_ReaganThe course is intended for students interested and committed to accelerating their leadership capacity.  This course engages students with elements, values, and styles of leadership as seen through examples of American Presidents. Students will: engage in discussion about Presidential leadership style, advance in their leadership journey, explore the paths that Presidents have taken to provide a spark in their own leadership development. Simulations and co-curricular experiences will be employed to emphasize personal action and applicability. Please click here for a sample syllabus.

International Economic Policy
ECON 385 (3 credits)

This course focuses on international economic policy using standard tools of economic analysis and case studies. Students will examine how economic institutions, property rights, and the operation of markets differ across countries. The primary focus will be on economic and political changes that have occurred in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Western Europe, South American, and the United States during the past 30 years. Students will explore the reasons why some economic policies encourage trade and growth between countries and other policies reduce economic activity. The course will draw on historical examples to illustrate different incentives and how they affect income, poverty, trade, and political stability. Please click here for a sample syllabus.

Internship Seminar
ECON 496 (6 credits)

The internship seminar offers a structured environment in which to reflect on internship experiences, and discuss assigned readings to explore “How Washington Works” from an insider’s perspective as well as the role the media plays in covering public policy issues. Observing Washington in action makes clear that politics in real life often differs from how it is portrayed in textbooks. This seminar is team-taught by the founding editor and first White House correspondent for USA Today as well as a former Congressional Chief of Staff and senior advisor at the Department of Labor. High level guest speakers will cover pressing issues such as national security, cases before the Supreme Court, political campaigns and pending federal legislation.

The course will be taught in two parts. Please click here for part one's sample syllabus. Please click here for part two's sample syllabus.


Joshua Walker, APCO Worldwide
Professor, The American Presidency

Dr. Joshua Walker currently serves as the vice president of Global Programs at APCO Worldwide in the Office of the CEO and is also a Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States in Washington, DC.

Prior to the private sector Dr. Walker served in a variety of roles and levels as a senior advisor to the US government. He most recently was at the U.S. Department of State in Secretary Kerry’s Office of the Chief Economist until 2013 and prior to this appointment from 2012 he served in Secretary Clinton’s Global Partnership Initiative as Senior Advisor on the Middle East and North Africa. He has also previously worked for at the U.S. Embassy Ankara, the Turkey Desk of the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs at the State Department, and for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the U.S. Department of Defense. Before his government service, Dr. Walker was an academic and think-tanker bridging the theoretical and policy worlds since his earliest days of growing up in Japan and pursuing a Fulbright fellowship in Turkey.

Dr. Walker serves in a variety of community leadership positions including international boards of civil society and non-profit organizations that promote values closely aligned to his own. He earned his Ph.D. in Politics and Public Policy with a specialization on international relations and security studies at Princeton University. He holds a Master's degree in International Relations from Yale University, a Bachelor's degree from the University of Richmond and speaks both Japanese and Turkish fluently.

Richard Benedetto, American University
Internship Seminar

Richard Benedetto retired from USA Today in 2006, where since 1982 he had served as their White House/national political correspondent as well as a political columnist for Gannett News Service. He has covered the administrations of Ronald Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. He also has covered the presidential campaigns of 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.  Presently, he is an adjunct professor at American University.

Benedetto has lectured at colleges and universities across the country and received numerous journalism awards. In 2005, he was a visiting professor at the University of Colorado and St. Bonaventure University. He also taught news writing and reporting as an adjunct professor at Utica College.  He was honored in 1998 with the National Italian-American Foundation Media Award for his projection of a positive image for Italian-Americans.

Benedetto received his B.A. from Utica College of Syracuse University and holds an M.A. in Journalism from Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communication. He was awarded an honorary doctorate in 1992.

Anne Bradley, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
International Economic Policy

Dr. Anne Bradley is the Vice President of Economic Initiatives at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, where she develops and commissions research toward a systematic biblical theology of economic freedom.  She is a visiting professor at Georgetown University and has previously taught at George Mason University and at Charles University, Prague.  She is currently a visiting scholar at the Bernard Center for Women, Politics, and Public Policy.  She served as the Associate Director for the program in Economics, Politics, and the Law at the James M. Buchanan Center at George Mason University.

Karen Czarnecki, George Mason University School of Law
Internship Seminar

Karen M. Czarnecki currently serves as the director of education at the Law and Economics Center at George Mason School of Law. Previously she served as the Chief of Staff to Rep. Mike Kelly and as a senior advisor to U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. She joined the Labor Department in June of 2001, and in June 2003 she was appointed Director of the Office of the 21st Century Workforce. In addition, she served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor for Intergovernmental Affairs, giving her responsibility for outreach to state and locally-elected officials. Professor Czarnecki received her BA and juris doctorate degrees from Catholic University of America and is also an alumna of the ICPES program.

Lecture Series

ILAP_GuestLectureAs part of our comprehensive program, weekly guest lectures give you a chance to learn, question, and more often than not, exchange business cards with some of the best public policy experts, business and nonprofit leaders in DC.

These lectures are designed to complement what you are learning in your classes and internship. Covering a wide variety of topics, the events are lively, interactive, and challenging.

See below for a list of the type of top Washington, DC industry leaders you’ll hear from as part of the weekly lecture series.

  • Elected Officials
  • Business Leaders
  • Nonprofit Executives
  • Ambassadors and Foreign Policy Experts