Public Affairs Conversation

Jason Marsh, Holland Hall 416

Why do people disagree so deeply about public policies concerning gun control, healthcare, the environment, and abortion? Why are politics and public affairs more generally so controversial in the USA?  The Public Affairs Conversation (“PACON”) is a yearlong program for all incoming first year students (fall and spring) and an internship opportunity (following completion of the program) that is supported with PACON funding. 

PACON engages students and faculty to develop an interdisciplinary perspective on American public policy that is informed by the connection between contemporary debates and foundational ideals. The program is distinctive in its particular interdisciplinary approach (bridging politics, economics, philosophy, and religion), in the way that it frames contemporary policy dilemmas in relation to U.S. intellectual history, and in its incorporation of practical work experience (via an internship) into the curriculum. It aspires, above all, to endow students with the capacity to engage rigorously, imaginatively, and civilly with intellectually and ideologically diverse outlooks on American public affairs. The internship opportunity provides students with a context for vocational reflection and further analysis of important issues grounded in practical experience.


Admission to the Program

Admission to the PACON is open to all incoming first year students regardless of prospective major in accordance with the registration process for the First Year Seminar. No separate application is needed.

Intended Learning Outcomes for the Program