Understanding Washington is an educational course for embassy, business, and nonprofit professionals in Washington, D.C. It is intended to provide professionals with the tools and knowledge necessary to navigate the policy ecosystem.
Participants will learn how formal entities and informal networks interact to impact policy decisions. They will emerge with the skills necessary to manage crises, message and interact with media, assess breaking developments, network, and engage government and nongovernment actors in a meaningful way.
Participants will learn from CSIS scholars who have held senior positions in government, advised presidents and presidential candidates, and led successful careers in the private sector. CSIS’s expertise will be augmented by discussions with some of Washington’s true insiders—people who have navigated political and substantive networks to become some of the most influential and knowledgeable voices in Washington.
Alumni can look forward to receiving invitations to select CSIS events, alumni reunions, and access to expert briefings.
The Understanding Washington curriculum is comprised of a series of seminars that address a range of topics, including:
- How to understand the policy ecosystem of Washington and strategies for engagement
- How different institutions operate – from Congress and the legislative process to the executive branch and the mechanics that drive the president and cabinet
- The role and legal function of regulatory agencies
- The distinct roles of think tanks, trade associations, advocacy groups, and lobbyists
- How governors’ associations, local, and NGO interests outside of Washington surface and interact with the federal policy environment and the media
In-Depth Case Studies
One afternoon will be devoted to examining case studies that illustrate how the Washington ecosystem has worked in different ways to deal with tangible problems. These sessions will help participants understand the challenging dynamics of existing policies and institutions as well as what techniques are needed to succeed in advancing an organization’s objectives in high-profile situations.
Targeted group exercises will help participants develop skillsets that are critical to navigating the policy community. Key areas of focus include: evaluating the significance of breaking developments and responding to crises; effective personal and organizational representation in social and business settings; and individualized media training opportunities.
The capstone simulation will require participants to apply a combination of skills learned and 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.