For students choosing to study politics at Marymount, the university’s “capital location” is a draw based on its potential to provide students with opportunities to learn more about the government first hand. Such an experience was conducted in Dr. Chad Rector’s American Foreign Policy class in March when Dr. Peter Howard of the State Department came to speak.
Dr. Howard was able to give students as much of an inside look at the inner workings of foreign policy and the United States government as declassification would allow. Working in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, students were quick to engage Dr. Howard in discussion concerning the Arab Spring, especially since several of the students hailed from those countries involved.
According to Dr. Howard, the US response to the situation has reflected a significant shift in US foreign policy. Compared to domestic policy, foreign policy has enjoyed a far greater consensus among policy players; however the understanding of the legitimacy of governments have shifted in the region with many questioning whether it needs to reflect the interests of the governed rather than those who are in power.
In an off-the-record conversation, Dr. Howard discussed changes in Tunisia, Iran, and other states in the region, and took questions from students for two hours on a variety of topics related to American policy towards the Middle East and North Africa, the American foreign policy process generally, and internships and careers at the State Department.