POL S 497 A: Political Internship In State Government

Meeting Time: 
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John Wilkerson
John D. Wilkerson

Syllabus Description:

University of Washington                                                                         Professor John Wilkerson

Political Science 497                                                                                       221C Smith Hall

State Legislative Internship Program                                                      email: jwilker@uw.edu

Winter Quarter 2018                                                                                       543-2780



Congratulations on your acceptance into this prestigious program! The Washington State Legislative Internship program offers a unique opportunity to learn about the legislative process through direct participation. This is usually an immensely rewarding experience.

As an employee of the Washington State Legislature, you will be asked to perform assigned responsibilities reliably and capably in a demanding work environment.

As a student, you will also have academic obligations to fulfill that mostly involve writing. Ten credits apply toward your internship activities (C/NC). Five apply to the academic components described below (graded). Balancing these responsibilities can be challenging (there will be grumbling!), but that’s how it is so try to stay ahead of assignments.

We will meet in Olympia several times over the quarter. These meetings are in large part opportunities to share observations and experiences, but also to discuss and work through paper ideas. They are mandatory (and usually worthwhile!) I’m happy to meet individually before or after the group meeting, but please try to let me know in advance.


POLS 497 Course Requirements


Recommended readings: Sine Die: A Guide to the Washington State Legislative Process. E.D. Seeberger (University of Washington, 1997). This book provides an introduction to the unique legislative process of Washington State.  Another book worth purchasing is Washington State Government and Politics by Clayton, Le Loup and Lovrich. (WSU Press 2004).


30%: Journal: This is for you. I ask that you keep an electronic journal, not of what you did each day, but to record your thoughts and observations. Why? So that you can appreciate what you  learned from the internship by reviewing how your expectations and understandings changed. The journal is also an opportunity to record observations and ideas that may end up being the subject of one of your paper assignments. I don’t expect daily entries.


20%: Critical essay: A short (3-4 pages) critical analysis of something you noticed - just about any topic that attracts your attention during your internship. Primary research is not required for this assignment. It’s a chance to explore something you noticed, and first opportunity to provide feedback on your writing (and I will be critical!). Paper organization, grammar and spelling are very important (we will be discussing).


50%: Research paper:  This is a longer substantive paper (15-20 pages) on a topic of your choice. It can be about a policy issue or about some aspect of lawmaking or politics. Ideally this paper builds on something you worked on as an intern so that you can take advantages of available resources (including people). We will be discussing potential paper topics during our meetings. Once again, organization, grammar and spelling are important factors in assigning overall grades.

Additional Details:

W course, 5 credits.

Catalog Description: 
Students serving in approved internship program with state government agencies.
Department Requirements: 
American Politics Field
GE Requirements: 
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
November 14, 2017 - 9:26pm