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Building that Bridge

- June 12, 2013

This third dispatch from the International Policy Summer Institute is by Bruce Jentleson.


It’s been an intensive and valuable week for our International Policy Summer Institute (IPSI). Following on the panels and discussions of our first two days, here and here, today began with a panel on think tanks, with Dan Byman (Georgetown, Brookings) and our own Jim Goldgeier (Council on Foreign Relations and other think tanks prior to his AU School of International Service Deanship). It was a rich discussion of the role of think tanks, similarities and differences with university-based research centers, various opportunities for engaging with them, strategies for doing so, pros and cons of doing so.

Another panel focused on Congress’ role in foreign policy, with a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer, an analyst from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), and a colleague who has both Hill experience and is a scholar on foreign policy politics and process.  This was a very useful discussion of how to bring one’s own research and writing to bear on pertinent issues through congressional testimony, dissemination to committee staff and policy entrepreneurs, drawing on CRS studies, and other strategies and avenues for bridging this part of the gap.

Over lunch, Paul Johnson from the AU Communications Office gave an extremely useful presentation on media outreach and services that most if not all of our universities provide.  Faculty often aren’t all that aware of how university media offices can facilitate and partner in efforts to place op-eds, do broadcast interviews, make press contacts, and other mechanisms for getting  policy relevant ideas and research findings out to the media in ways that are in the interest of both the individual scholar and the university.

And then the “fun” part: our BtG team member Brent Durbin of Smith College, who before grad school was a Senate press secretary, conducted Lehrer NewsHour-style on-camera interviews  with each participant, posing questions related to their research. We tape these, and then tomorrow with two media professionals (one from the Hill, the other from TV) we do group critiques.  It’s good that we’ve build good group solidarity and sense of community by this point in IPSI! There is no growth without pain . . . but growth there is!