Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics

The Department of Political Science houses the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics whose mission is to motivate students to become active in the world of politics and encourage public officials to participate in the daily life of USC. The Institute operates activities such as:

  • Unruh Distinguished Fellows: Institute-sponsored lectures from prominent public officials, advocates, and policymakers. Past speakers include Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Jesse Jackson, and Newt Gingrich.
  • Unruh Student Internships and Scholarships: With an internship database of over 900 opportunities in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Washington, DC., and abroad, approximately 100 students annually intern at the offices of elected officials, city, county, and state offices, non-profit organizations, consulting firms, and law firms.  The Institute also offers at least 10 fellowship awards to students to offset the cost of participating in an internship during the summer.
  • Sacramento Legislative Seminar: Each spring up to 10 students are selected to participate in a seminar where they meet with elected officials and their staffs, lobbyists, and members of the media.  The Institute covers airfare and hotel costs for the students.
  • Undergraduate Research Scholars: Each semester, 5 students are chosen to work closely with a faculty member, developing research skills through work on faculty research or projects of their own design.
  • Unruh Adjunct Lecturers Program: The Institute sponsors courses in POSC that are taught by political practitioners.  Previous practitioners include Bill Lockyer (state treasurer), Michael Woo (civic leader and former L.A. councilmember), Kerman Maddox (political strategist) and Dan Schnur (Republican strategist)

In addition, the Unruh Institute works with other organizations on campus to hold weekly discussions on a range of contemporary political topics. The Unruh Institute hosts a weekly series titled “Students Talk Back: A Weekly Politics and Public Policy Forum," which gives USC students the opportunity to discuss current issues in national and state politics with professional experts from the worlds of campaigns, government, policy, and journalism.



  • Department of Political Science