Washington Campus: Bridging the gap between business and politics

The Washington Campus is a nonprofit, nonpartisan consortium in Washington, D.C., that gives MBA students from schools across the country opportunities for both in-class and experiential learning about the interactions of business, government and public policy (for example, students learn what components to consider when addressing a new tax that negatively impacts a company’s sales). The course — which primarily takes place over one week in Washington, D.C. — is offered to Emory MBA students in the spring semester. It is an accelerated format for a full class credit, similar to our ACE courses.

I’ve mentioned in some of my other blogs that, in my opinion, the best thing about Goizueta Business School is its people. This experience was no exception — being in such amazing company was truly the icing on the cake to a week full of new experiences. In true Goizueta style, we began the week as a cohort meeting for dinner the night before the program officially began.

Day One: Back to Basics
Do you remember the details from your high school government class? For most of us, they were a bit fuzzy, so the organizers of this program provided required foundational pre-reading. These materials covered the basics such as the Constitution and the three branches of government. Our first-day speakers mostly covered these topics, along with an interesting hands-on activity to learn about the federal budget.

Day Two: National Press Club
We heard engaging talks from Donna Brazile, former DNC chair, and James Hohmann, national political correspondent for the Washington Post, among several others. We learned about tax reform, the federal budget, how businesses like Facebook intersect with public policy and much more. Given the location at the National Press Club, we had the opportunity to witness a live press conference with Jake Tapper in the room next to us.

Day Three: Capitol Hill Day
Having never been to Washington, I really have no words for how neat this experience was for me. We hear about Washington daily in the news, but it’s another thing to be walking to class and notice the White House over on the next block. This self-guided and jam-packed day included photos (and selfies) with all three of our legislators — Senators Johnny Isakson and David Purdue, and Representative John Lewis — visits to Senate and House committee hearings of our choice, and the opportunity to sit in on the Senate or House proceedings.

My group visited the Senate and had the opportunity to hear Senator Bernie Sanders deliver his animated case for an amendment he was proposing. All of the legislators’ offices are open with signs that say “Welcome, Please Come In” so students from districts besides the ones with arranged visits had the opportunity to visit their respective offices. We even had the opportunity to meet and take a selfie with Bill Nye, who happened to be meeting with Senator Doug Jones that day. We wrapped up with a couple of final speakers and enjoyed dinner out on our own.

Day Four: Continued Talks on a Variety of Topics
Our program continued back at the main campus with talks on current topics like cybersecurity, healthcare and international trade policy, and we concluded the day with another interesting hands-on exercise on immigration.

Day Five: Final Thoughts
After a couple of final speakers, we wrapped up the week with a final exam and had plenty of time to catch a flight or spend more time with classmates. The final course requirement was a group project to apply the material to a real-world situation, to be submitted within two weeks of the end of the program.

There was plenty of time throughout the week for tourist and social activities; it’s a self-guided journey outside of class time, including multiple lunches and dinners on our own. Some students got library cards from the National Library of Congress; others visited the Smithsonian, memorials (Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., and war memorials, to name a few), or just enjoyed time by the Washington Monument or at dinner with friends.

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Ashley Freeman

Ashley Freeman is a class of 2018 Evening MBA student and an independent leadership coach and speaker. In her free time, she loves crocheting, traveling, teaching French, piano and cello lessons, and spending time with her husband and pet bird. Connect with Ashley on Twitter (@AshleyFCoaching), Instagram (@AshleyFreemanCoaching) or on LinkedIn.

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