Making Sense of the Hill: A Political Scientist in Politics

The latest virtual issue of PS features articles written by alumni of the Congressional Fellowship Program (CFP) from 2010 to 2015. The CFP fellows serve yearlong placements in congressional and executive offices, and they chronicle their firsthand experiences in the pages of PS. Enjoy the full virtual issue here.

Making Sense of the Hill: A Political Scientist in Politics

PSC 49 V2 CoverJoshua Carstens Huder, University of Florida

“One of the first, and most frequent, questions asked of congressional fellows is: What do you want to get out of your fellowship? Fellowship Director Jeff Biggs, former fellows, professors, chiefs of staff, legislative directors, and members will, at one point or another, raise this topic. At an abstract level I had an answer: I sought a better understanding of the legislative process. But, at times, it felt like a trick question. At a practical level I had almost no idea what I was getting into. I had few expectations or preconceived notions about the lessons that would come over the next year. Without legislative experience to fall back on, setting out to accomplish a prearranged set of goals seemed impossible. So I took a different tact. Rather than search for expertise in a particular policy area or with a specific goal in mind, I sought a placement that would treat me unexceptionally. I set out to find an office assignment that would offer complete emersion as a congressional staffer. I fashioned myself as a miniature Clifford Geertz. I needed to get as close as possible to living the life of a full-time staffer, complete with long hours and a significant portfolio. After I came up for air at the end of my fellowship, I figured I will have learned lessons I did not necessary start out to find, but would nonetheless enhance my understanding of the institution and how those within it practice and perceive politics…” Read More.


PS: Political Science & Politics / Volume 46 / Issue 04 / October 2013, pp 875-876