Presidential Fellows Program


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For more than forty years, CSPC has drawn on the lessons of history to support policy makers, assist Presidential transitions, and navigate the challenges of today. Working closely with those within the Federal government, academia, and the private sector, the Fellows program has given students the unique opportunity to craft innovative solutions to today’s most crucial political issues. Since 1970, CSPC’s Fellows have come to Washington, DC, to learn about leadership and governance, to share their outstanding research, and to explore careers in public service. This year-long program is offered to undergraduate and graduate students from both American and international universities. They are given the opportunity to study the U.S. Presidency, the public policymaking process, and our Chief Executive’s relations with Congress, allies, the media, and the American public.

Under the guidance of CSPC, the Fellows are selected by their colleges and universities. The Fellows participate in three-day leadership conferences in Washington, DC during the Fall and Spring semesters, in addition to completing a research paper that is eligible for publication and awards. While attending the conferences, the Fellows participate in workshops where they present and receive constructive criticism on their research papers. The Fellows also have the opportunity to engage with policy experts, government officials, and leaders in the legislative process. In the past Fellows have had the opportunity to meet with speakers such as Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke; Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Deputy Secretary of Labor Christopher Lu; journalists James Kitfield, Ron Fournier, and Clive Crook; and defense experts Michèle Flournoy, Frank Cilluffo, and Capt. Eric Jones, USCG.

The centerpiece of the Fellowship is the student’s original research paper on the key issues of the past, present, and/or future as they relate to the presidency and Congress. The papers are eligible for one of four awards: The Robert A. Kilmarx Award for Best Military, Intelligence, or National Security Strategic Analysis; The Donald B. Marron Award for Most Original Historical Analysis; The James R. Moffett Award for Most Original Paper on the Modern Presidency or Congress; and the newly introduced David M. Abshire Award for Most Outstanding Paper by an International Fellow. Each award comes with a monetary prize and publication in our online anthology The Fellows Review.

During the Spring Leadership Conference, Fellows also attend CSPC’s Annual Awards Dinner which honors leading public servants. The most recent recipients are Governors Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) and Rick Snyder (R-MI) in 2015; Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) in 2014; and Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Mark Warner (D-VA) in 2013. Additionally, the four Fellows whose papers have been selected to receive top awards will be recognized alongside the public servants being honored and will have the opportunity to briefly present their research to an audience including many current and former high-level officials.

Fellows can come from any major or specialization, but they all have strong academic credentials, a demonstrated interest in the institutions of the Presidency and Congress, and a desire to make public service a part of their careers. Typically, Fellows are seniors in an undergraduate program, but advanced underclassmen or graduate students can also participate. Alumni of the Fellows program include Capitol Hill and White House staffers, award-winning journalists, CEOs of corporations and non-profit organizations, senior military leaders, and university presidents and deans. Many of our Fellows have been awarded the prestigious Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Truman, and Gates Scholarships. Our 2010-2011 class included Rhodes Scholar Ye jin Kang from Rice University and Gates Cambridge Scholar Chris Carter from University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill. Our 2011-2012 class included Truman Scholar Stephanie Spangler of Emory University and Truman Finalist David Hoyt of Stanford University. Our 2012-2013 class included Truman Scholar Mike Norton of University of Arkansas. Our 2013-2014 class included Truman Scholars Robert Fisher of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and William Moore of the United States Military Academy.