This programme invites students to explore every aspect of politics and government, from constitutional history to twenty-first century international relations, and from the political theory of the Founding Fathers to today's public policy challenges. Students will meet senior government officials, eminent academics, policy analysts, leaders of think tanks, high-profile lawyers, political staffers, and members of the United States Congress.
The John Locke Institute has no formal institutional affiliations, but we have an extensive visiting faculty of over one hundred talented academics from leading universities in the US and the UK, including Oxford, Princeton, Harvard, NYU, Georgetown and George Mason. Our Washington programme includes lectures and seminars at two universities both well known for their distinguished faculty:
Georgetown University is the home of the School of Foreign Service, the oldest and best university programme in the USA for preparing people for distinguished careers in politics and international diplomacy. We will meet professors and John Locke alumni at Georgetown to enjoy academic and social opportunities.
George Mason University is the number one centre of excellence for the study of Public Choice Theory, the economics of politics or, as Nobel Laureate James Buchanan called it, 'Politics without Romance'. We will have seminars with professors on immigration policy, the economics of minimum wage and price controls, international trade theory, and 'Why Democracies Choose Bad Policies'.
We will also have a series of seminars on Law & Democracy, Federalism and The Problem of Political Ignorance with Professor Ilya Somin at the Antonin Scalia Law School in Arlington. Harvard University's Director of Undergraduate Studies in Economics, Professor Jeffrey Miron, will give two seminars on using social science to design optimal public policy.
Washington is full of experts on a broad range of public policy questions, who exert enormous influence on federal legislation. We will have confidential briefings on contemporary issues from influential think tanks across the ideological spectrum.
We will visit centrist groups like the Center for Strategic & International Studies and the Aspen Institute; conservative groups, including Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute; liberal/progressive groups, including the Brookings Institution and the Center for American Progress, libertarian groups, including the Cato Institute and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and independent and bipartisan think tanks, such as the Peterson Institute for International Economics and the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Part of the apparatus of government in the United States is the departments and agencies that operate under the executive branch. We will visit the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in Langley, the US Department of Defense at the Pentagon, and the Federal Reserve headquarters. We will also visit the U.S. Supreme Court and attend a lecture on the history and role of the judicial branch in American government.
The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) govern important aspects of the global economic and financial system. We will receive briefings on the role of these two organizations, at their headquarters, and explore contemporary policy challenges with the help of real-world case studies.
Government Agencies & Supranational Headquarters
Politicians & Political Staffers
Our Visiting Scholars will meet members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. These meetings operate under Chatham House Rules, which means that participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed. Under such conditions the Senators and Congressmen will speak candidly in answer to our questions.
You will take part in a legislative negotiation simulation with senior Senate staffers and executive officers from the major party caucuses. This is a rare peek into the inner sanctum of Washington politics.
During your four weeks in Washington DC our Visiting Scholars live in spacious townhouses. Each student has a private double bedroom, in a house you will share with five or six other people.
Cooking and eating together will give you an opportunity to form strong and lasting friendships with likeminded people of your own age. One of the most memorable aspects of past gap year programmes has been the social element, and we pride ourselves on bringing together some of the most interesting people you will have ever met!
"I was able to debate freely, learn without pressure, and get to the heart of everything by hearing so many contrasting views from like-minded people."
"This course profoundly impacted the way I think. It was a challenging and intellectually stimulating environ-ment. Being with a group of highly motivated people in this friendly and rigorous setting is an opportunity that I was very fortunate to have."
"Many hours were spent discussing issues in a rigorous and interesting manner. I highly recommend it. The students and the staff are amazing people who will challenge you to lift your level of thought.”