Decoding D.C.: Policy, Power, and People

Decoding D.C.: Policy, Power, and People offers embassy, business, and nonprofit professionals the tools and knowledge necessary to better navigate the Washington policy ecosystem.

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At a Glance

Course Date

October 15 – 18, 2024


CSIS Headquarters or Virtual



Application Deadline Deadline

October 1, 2024


Decoding D.C.: Policy, Power, and People offers government, business, and nonprofit professionals who support their organization’s policy agenda the tools and knowledge necessary to successfully navigate the Washington policy ecosystem. Previous participants hail from a range of embassy, business, and nonprofit organizations, some of which are featured below.

Participants will learn how formal structures and informal networks interact to advance policy interests, further examining these structures through the lens of modern-day politics and media dynamics. The course will sharpen the skills necessary to manage crises, assess breaking developments, and engage both government and nongovernment actors.

Course instructors include CSIS experts with prior experience as senior government officials and government relations professionals as well as, "Washington insiders," who will share their extensive knowledge about navigating the capital's distinctive culture, policy dynamics, and political constructs. 


Comprehensive Seminars

The curriculum of Decoding D.C.: Policy, Power, and People is comprised of a series of seminars that explore, among others:

  • The dispersal of power among the political branches
  • The legislative process and the mechanics that drive the executive branch agencies
  • How a wide range of interest groups in and outside of Washington work to shape the federal policy environment
  • The policy ecosystem of Washington and strategies for engagement
  • The role and function of regulatory agencies
  • How to leverage the decisionmaking process and political ecosystem to forge alliances that support policy goals


In-Depth Case Studies

CSIS experts will use case studies to illustrate how the Washington ecosystem deals with tangible problems. Small-group exercises will reveal the challenging dynamics embedded in policies and institutions as well as revealing techniques for advancing an organization’s objectives in various situations. 

Capstone Simulation

An immersive simulation will require participants to apply skills developed throughout the program to a real-world situation. Participants will work in teams to analyze a fast-moving issue and develop and implement an effective response. 



This course is open to anyone interested in developing a deeper understanding of how Washington, D.C. functions.

How to Register

The online application includes a short entry form, statement of interest, brief bio, and resume. Entries will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Please note that spaces are limited and the course may fill before the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered.


Previous and current participants include representatives from:
The Aerospace Corporation, Aramco Services Company, Chevron, Central Japan Railway Company, Department of Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, Embassy of Australia, Embassy of Canada, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, Embassy of Mexico, Embassy of New Zealand, Embassy of Norway, Embassy of the State of Qatar, Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, European Space Agency, Fujitsu Limited, General Dynamics, Government of Haiti, Hitachi, Ltd., The Internet Society, ITOCHU Corporation, Japan Bank for International Cooperation, Japan Science & Technology Agency, The J.M. Smucker Company, Johns Hopkins School of Public Health, Mitsubishi Corporation, NASA, National Transportation Safety Board, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation, New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Pfizer-Upjohn, Public Safety Canada, SK Hynix, U.S. Cyber Command, U.S. Department of State, USAID, Total S.A.


For more information, please contact Jessica Middleton, Learning and Development Associate, at

Scott Miller
Senior Mentor (Non-resident), Executive Education
Alex Kisling
Vice President of Communications, External Relations