Harriger named Wake Washington director

U.S. Capitol


  • Katy Harriger, chair of politics and international affairs, named director
  • Wake Washington to launch fall 2017
  • Program to combine academics and internships

Katy Harriger, professor and chair of politics and international affairs, has been named faculty director of Wake Forest University’s new Wake Washington program, which will combine academic and internship experiences in the nation’s capital.

Scheduled to launch in fall 2017, the program will provide students with “outstanding opportunities to explore what it means to be a citizen, a policy maker, and a leader,” said Michele Gillespie, dean of the College.

As faculty director, Harriger will oversee the program and serve as the on-site faculty member for the first semester of the program.

“Katy Harriger is one of our very best teacher-scholars and the perfect person for this new role,” Gillespie said.

“Her commitment to students, unwavering expectation of rigorous learning in and out of the classroom, important scholarship on American politics, and leadership abilities are all exceptional.” Michele Gillespie, Dean of the College
Katy Harriger, chair and professor of politics and international studies.

Katy Harriger, chair and professor of politics and international studies.

Each year, Wake Forest will offer a fall and spring semester program. Modeled after Wake Forest’s study abroad centers in Venice, Vienna and London, the new program will offer close faculty-student engagement and high academic standards. A faculty member will take 16 undergraduate students with them to Washington and teach courses in their area of expertise capitalizing on learning experiences available there.

The first set of classes will include “U.S. Policymaking in the 21st Century” and “American Constitutional Law: Separation of Powers and Federalism,” taught by Harriger. They will include visits to Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court and the White House. Future semesters could focus on art, communication, science or other fields of study.

“We can imagine many ways to take advantage of being in D.C.,” she said. “For example, when you think of the major science agencies located in Washington, there are many opportunities for students interested in science policy.”

Students will engage in semester-long, four-day-a-week internships with a policy focus — offering a different level of experience and responsibility than would be possible in a summer internship or one with a smaller weekly time commitment. On Fridays, students will hear from a series of guest speakers on policy-related topics.

“We will ensure that there is a strong academic frame, so the students are not just getting the experience, but they are being required to reflect and write about it,” Harriger said.  “So, if a student is working on Capitol Hill with an education committee, they will be required to write a research paper on a specific education policy issue. Whenever students can put together theory with practice there is plenty of evidence that kind of learning is deep learning.”

Politics and international affairs majors discuss policy in Harriger's seminar class
Politics and international affairs majors discuss policy in Harriger's seminar class

Thousands of Wake Forest alumni live in the Washington area and an increasing number of students plan to work or study in the area after graduation.

The program will be supported by the Wake Forest Washington office, which will focus on helping students network with local alumni and parents through their internships, job shadowing and mentoring.

“The opportunity to really engage with our alumni network is another distinctive dimension of this program,” Harriger said.

The new Wake Washington program highlights Wake Forest’s commitment to the engaged liberal arts, said Gillespie. “This program allows our foundational Wake Forest strengths —rigorous classroom learning and intense student-faculty engagement — to intersect with the opportunity to explore and shape public life through our own substantive on-site classes, great Washington-based internships, and intense reflection/leadership sessions that tie learning and experience together.”

For more information on the program, visit Wake Forest’s Center Global Programs & Studies website.

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Katy Harriger

Professor of Political Science

Harriger is an expert on political participation and voting among college-age people. She is also an expert on federal special prosecutors.

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