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Practicums and Field Studies

The Political Science Department sponsors an active practicum, internship trip, and field study program, designed to take select students out of the classroom and into halls of power where abstract classroom knowledge is applied daily. Students will have the opportunity to meet top officials, visit political sites and offices, network with figures in the field of politics and political science, and expand their vision of government and its various concomitant institutions. Brigham Young University-Hawaii graciously supports these programs. Student participation is highly competitive and students are selected depending on perceived ability and fit, depending on the particular features of each respective practicum. The availability of funds and faculty schedules will determine when a practicum or field study is slated. Interested students should prepare themselves by proving their abilities and demonstrating their commitment to the major.

The Washington DC Practicum aims to give students a powerful experience interacting with parts of an enormous government facing superpower issues of global proportion. The Cook Islands Internship Trip offers students to engage a much more compact and integrated parliamentary government representing the issues confronting a small Pacific Island nation. The Bangkok Field Study seeks to educate students about a growing government managing with all the development issues of a growing regional power.

Program Offerings

  • The Political Science Departments practicum allows ten students to spend one week in Washington, DC (and possibly New York City in addition) as part of two three-credit political science classes (POSC 390R & POSC 499). The purpose of the practicum is to learn about and experience American politics and government, learn about internship and graduate school opportunities, and develop networks. Students who participate will learn about American government, politics and history by experiencing politics first-hand and meeting with political actors, lobbyists, and academics. The next practicum in 2012 will include Washington, DC and New York City (visiting the United Nations and various non-governmental organizations).

    Participation is selective. The group will be chosen based on individual GPA, a submitted writing sample, and a personal statement demonstrating how the trip will contribute to student goals and the mission of Brigham Young University—Hawaii. Majors from other disciplines may apply but first preference will be given to Political Science majors and minors. Students who have successfully completed POSC 110, POSC 200 and POSC 202 will be given the highest priority. All applicants must have completed at least 6 political science credits by the end of Winter Semester. All accepted candidates must attend two POSC courses held during Spring Term to prepare for the trip.

  • The Cook Islands Internship Trip places 10 student interns in the Cook Islands government which graciously opens its highest ministries and offices, including the Office of the Prime Minister, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Tourism, and others. Students accepted into the program spend two weeks at Brigham Young University—Hawaii for cultural and protocol training before flying to Rarotonga for their four week internship. Students will see and experience the inner workings of a parliamentary system of government, establish contacts, garner resume building experiences, and establish networking contacts. Group dynamics give participating students a much higher profile than individuals would ever get on their own.

    Participation is highly selective. Members of the group will be chosen based on individual GPA, a submitted writing sample, and a personal statement demonstrating how the trip will contribute to student goals and the mission of Brigham Young University—Hawaii. Each candidate seeking admission into the program must be interviewed by the department chair and the faculty advisor. Majors from other disciplines may apply but first preference will be given to Political Science majors and minors. Students who have successfully completed POSC 110, POSC 200 and POSC 202 will be given the highest priority. Students with significant ties to the Pacific will also be given the highest priority. All applicants must have completed at least 6 political science credits by the end of Winter Semester. All accepted candidates must attend three POSC courses held during Spring Term in conjunction with the trip.

  • The Bangkok Field Study takes 10 students to Bangkok to visit various offices of Thailand but also United Nations bureaus, NGOs, and offices. Students will gain first-hand exposure to Thailand’s developmental progress and the role of the United Nations there. This program is still being developed.

Completed Trips

  • Cook Islands 2011

    In May 2011 Professor Jon Jonassen headed a delegation of 10 student interns to Rarotonga. The trip marks the Political Science Department's third such internship trip to the Cook Islands and stands as its most successful venture yet. Students seeking inclusion were encouraged to enroll in a special Political Science course featuring Cook Islands culture taught by James Stiefvater during Winter Semester. Those who passed the screening process and cleared the BYUH Career Services Office then signed up for three courses taught during Spring Term, including Political Futures and Cook Island Politics. Early instruction prepared the students with protocols and cultural capabilities, including local dialect chants and songs, to smooth relations and cultural exchanges.

    Arriving on May 2, the interns began work immediately at their assignments during the day and then studying for classes at night. Offices that received BYUH interns included the Office of the Prime Minister, The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Opposition Party), the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, The Ministry of Marine Resources, the Ministry of Tourism, and others. Employing their best communicating and analytical skills our BYUH students wrote reports, offered assessments, and contributed ideas to their respective offices. One student even got to accompany the Prime Minister to the outer island of Mauke.

    Traveling and interacting with local Rarotongan offices and sites as a group, our students very quickly attracted attention. They were even featured on the local news. The students visited with local LDS and other Christian congregations and participated in firesides and Church services, stimulating local missionaries to take advantage. The group was even invited to visit the High Commissioner's home for a special family event.

    By the end of the trip our students had made a positive impression. Two were offered immediate employment for their efforts and resolve to return after graduation. At the same time, the graciousness and hospitality of the wonderful Cook Island people impacted our group as well. All brought back exceptional insights and new appreciation for life in the world of island government.


    Brian dawsonKulaniMichael GilgerSeong-A JoHironui JohnstonMelody JonassenPulei KafoaAlysha MayRocky L. SiufanuaLanea Snow

  • Washington DC 2010

    Participants of The Washington DC Practicum – 2010 were able to visit the RAND Corporation (think tank), Salt Institute (industry association), Hogan & Hartson (law firm), Georgetown University Law Center, U.S. Representatives (Jeff Flake & Eni Faleomavaega), U.S. Senate (Daniel Akaka), The Dutko Group (lobbyist), Federal Bureau of Investigations, American Enterprise Institute (political analysts), Congressional Research Service (Library of Congress), Sierra Club, and George Washington University. The students were also able to tour the Capitol building, attend and be formally recognized at a Congressional hearing, watch a MLB Washington Nationals game, have lunch in front of the White House, tour the Smithsonian museums, visit the Holocaust Museum, walk the Washington Mall visiting the various memorials, and attend the Washington, DC temple.

  • Guam and Bali 2010

    by Michael Murdock

    In August 2010, Professors Jon Jonassen and myself traveled into the Pacific and Southeast Asia to investigate a possible BYU-H field study for Bali. In 2005 and 2007 Dr. Jonassen participated in a Bali field study conducted by the University of Guam. We traveled to Guam, therefore, and spent our entire day with UofG faculty and administrators, gathering insights and information about what they had learned. Afterwards we flew to Bali and there investigated possible locations to house students, sites to visit, teaching and computer facilities, museums, markets, NGOs, local leaders, and so forth. In short, the trip proved rewarding beyond our expectations.

    Based on our observations, students would gain in four key ways. First, they would see in operation a local elite system of authority, one common throughout parts of the Pacific and Asia. Bali leaders have offered to open bureaus of local government, provide access to local leaders, and interact within a healthy civil society. The trip also opened the possibility of visiting Java to meet provincial authorities there and gain inside perspectives vis-à-vis Indonesia’s Muslim majority. Second, students would gain direct exposure to major developmental issues defining local and international politics in the Pac-Asian region: environmental protection, emergency preparedness, sustainable agriculture, growing business opportunities, globalization, nationalism, local identity, human rights, preservation of local culture, tourism, religious tolerance (Hindu and Muslim), international relations, community building, and security, among others. These are not superpower issues, but deep impacting concerns for virtually every developing Asian and Pacific nation.

    Third, students could visit regional Non-Government Organizations and UN-affiliated organizations to view internal operations and learn about issues facing these respective entities. These visits could easily open enormous internship opportunities in the process. Fourth, students would enjoy close interactions with local university experts, community officials, and the host family, all of whom displayed eagerness to fold our students into the local community. From a vantage point located deep within local society, students will perceive issues facing a developing nation from the inside, rather than as visitors from the outside.

  • Washing DC 2008

    by Jonathan Lang

    As I consider what prepared me for law school in New York City, certain experiences during my time at Brigham Young University—Hawaii stand out. The Washington DC trip was certainly one. I took the opportunity to be part of the Honors Program, I was part of many cultural clubs, I was active in my Church callings, I chose an avenue of study that gave me a liberal education, and all these helped me become a well-rounded individual equipped with the tools needed to succeed in professional school. One of the choicest experiences I had at the undergraduate level, one that allowed me to hone skills I learned in the classroom, was the Political Science Department’s Washington DC trip.

    Through the DC trip experience I was able to meet and learn from high level officials that work in various parts of the United States government. In addition to the understanding of government that I gained, the learning experience has helped me build a network of professionals that I now work and associate with regularly. As an undergraduate international student, learning about the government through first-hand experience proved invaluable to my current study of law.

    The experience was not something I kept to myself. I shared what I learned on the trip with my wife and friends. I am confident that my experience added to their university experience. After all, I heard about the DC trip from a classmate. I was also able to reference the trip in classes, during interviews, while encouraging under classmen about which direction to pursue in their studies, and when conversing with BYU-Hawaii supporters when asked about the practical experience I gained from my time at the University.

    The courses I took at BYU—Hawaii focused on the creation, purpose, operation, and history of government, not only in the United States, but also in many other parts of the world. The study experience in Washington DC allowed me to witness the live form of what I had studied for many months and was an invaluable cap-stone experience. I cannot think of a better way to engage students than through classroom study that leads to an all encompassing experience such as this one.


    Jonathan LangAmabel Virola PagaduanLuke MeredithEvan Matthew FaDaniel Gregory LongJames Josef GilbertRobert William SmithWestley William HoldenWilhelm Karlhinerk SpeerSeong-A Jo

  • Washington DC 2007

    by Dustin Bradshaw

    The BYU-Hawaii delegation trip to Washington DC greatly impacted my life and the lives of many others. I was privileged to be a co-organizer of the first DC Delegation in 2007. The results of this experience far surpassed our expectations. Taking ten diverse BYU-Hawaii students to experience Washington DC not only gave them an understanding of the vastness of opportunities that await them upon graduation, but it also provided wide-open doors for future jobs and internships.

    My experience alone attests to the successful achievements of the Washington DC trip. During the planning phase and throughout the time in Washington DC, I as able to make contacts with senators, congressmen, and lobbyists. This set a network foundation that proved remarkably beneficial upon graduation. When it came time for an internship, I was asked by both Congressman Jeff Flake, R-AZ, and Senator Robert Bennett, R-UT, to apply for an internship and was given a position with Senator Bennett’s staff for eight months. During this time I was able to see the inside working of Washington and learn how the country functions. This experience weighed heavily when I applied for and was offered a Foreign Service Officer position with the United States Department of State.

    The Washington DC trip program takes the educational knowledge and theory we receive in the classroom and molds it into a success story by opening the eyes of BYU-Hawaii students to the potential we have. We are truly a small school on a small island. However, our students have enormous potential. Experiences such as this one are priceless and do much to help our students visualize their future as leaders in their home countries upon graduation. BYU-Hawaii as a university will benefit immensely each time the Washington DC trip is sent out.


    Dustin BradshawJustin RitchieJennifer GeorgetTerava CaseyShakeel GillIoelu MameaArisara WatanawiboonAllison Maries WilliamsKaina K. WillingMinji Kim