Understanding Foreign Governments

College students from the United Kingdom arrive on campus this week for a program that gives them first-hand experience with American government in an exchange program offered by The Catholic University of America’s Department of Politics.

Now in its 12th year, CUA’s Parliamentary Internship Program is a cooperative effort with the English Speaking Union, an independent, nonpolitical, educational charity based in London. The successful program provides students the opportunity to learn about and participate in foreign government.

From June through August, 12 British students will be assisting members of Congress such as Richard Gephardt (D-Mo.), Ron Packard (R-Calif.), Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Jack Metcalf (R-Wash.) with daily legislative activities. The interns, selected by the English Speaking Union from a group of more than 350 applicants, are undergraduates from colleges and universities all over the United Kingdom including the universities of Glasgow, Cambridge, Oxford, Manchester and Bristol. Orientation will be held at the Columbus School of Law on Monday, June 19.

"The program allows British students to experience our legislative body from a bipartisan and geographically diverse perspective," says John Kromkowski, associate professor of politics and assistant dean for international programs.

On the other side of the Atlantic, seven CUA students are spending the summer in London working as full-time research assistants and professional aides to members of the House of Commons. In addition to research, the students may be involved in areas such as constituency relations, representation and party liaison. Students also attend a seminar organized by House of Commons Member Sir Patrick Cormack, a long-time proponent of Anglo-American relations and supporter of CUA’s exchange program.

"With only 20 interns permitted to work in British Parliament at one time," Dean Kromkowski points out, "the CUA Parliamentary Internship Program’s seven Americans represent a significant percentage of those students experiencing British politics."

The summer internship opportunity, along with the CUA’s Spring Semester in Parliament program, "places Catholic University at the forefront of comparative legislative studies," he says.