The Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics is dedicated to bridging the academic study of politics with practical experience in the field. The Institute channels its efforts in courses in applied politics, a variety of speaker series, and an extensive political internship program. Its goal is to engage public officials with the USC community and to facilitate the discussion of relevant issues across campus.
The Unruh Institute takes a broad view of politics, to include all aspects of public life in which a community makes decisions that affect its members. Its programs are non-partisan, and designed to motivate, encourage and inspire students to learn about the world of politics.
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 series titled “Students Talk Back: A 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. In addition, the Unruh Institute sponsors lectures and conferences featuring prominent public officials, advocates, and policymakers throughout the school year.
The Jesse M. Unruh Institute Fellows Program is an integral part of the Unruh Institute's programming. The Fellows Program is comprised of political professionals of both major parties and across the ideological spectrum, who have excelled in the field of politics and public service and who have demonstrated a willingness to assist young people in navigating the world of politics. The Fellows participate in events over the course of the year in which they are asked to lend their expertise to a discussion of politics and/or public policy including lunch panel discussions, a series of evening events, and a series of smaller mentoring groups in which students interested in a particular aspect of politics or public service can meet with an experienced professional to learn about various career paths in the political sphere.
The Unruh Institute also offers internships specifically designed to give students the skills they need to succeed in the public sector. A variety of opportunities are offered, and each semester students are placed in various non-governmental organizations, political offices, political campaigns, interest groups, political parties, state and local government, and more. The Institute offers internship scholarships and awards to be applied to the summer semester, including the Diana Chudacoff Levin Award, the Kam Kuwata Award for Political Involvement, the Coady Scholarship for Summer Interns, the Dr. Larry Berg Award in Political Leadership, and the Independent Spirit Award.
The mission of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics is to motivate students to become active in the world of politics and encourage public officials to participate in the daily life of USC.