The Unruh Institute of Politics is committed to bringing the academy and the public square together. As such, the Institute offers a Research Internship course that allows students to conduct extensive research and analysis on policy issues facing local, state, and federal government.

About the Policy Research Internship

Students will have the opportunity to work directly with partnering organizations. Examples of partnering organizations from previous semesters include the NALEO Education Fund, Green Dot Public Schools, Los Angeles City Council Offices, and California Strategies.

Students take part in a team-based research project where they will work to develop solutions in their respective policy areas by conducting interviews with policy experts, review academic and policy reports, and other primary and secondary sources. At the conclusion of the program, each team presents their final product to the partnering organization.

Spring 2023 Research Projects:

“Making Public Transit Attractive in a Hybrid World” with Metrolink: USC students will research how a hybrid workforce impacts the future growth of a major regional transportation agency. Students will focus particularly on the ridership experience of Gen Z riders. Students will also research best practices from across the USA and globally on how to build a ridership community and how to meet other needs of modern riders. In addition, students will delve into sustainability issues to assess the impact of Metrolink growth on California’s air quality goals. Metrolink is the nation’s third largest commuter rail system. It serves six Southern California counties: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, and San Diego.

“Superpower California: The Indispensable State?” with USC Center on Public Diplomacy: The project “Superpower California: The Indispensable State?” asks the following questions: what is the global role that California, a subnational entity, plays in the international system? How does it interact with sovereign states, promote its commercial interests, protect its critical infrastructure, reside in cyberspace, secure its borders, and assert its values and preferences onto the global stage? The project will look at the various aspects of subnational power and how it interacts both with federal institutions and world bodies. It will cover multifaceted aspects of the dynamic relationships and how they manifest themselves in the 21st century physical and digital realm. This project will seek input from multiple players at the local, regional, federal, and international levels.

The project for the USC Center on Public Diplomacy is led by Dr. Markos Kounalakis, a Visiting Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, a Senior Fellow at the Center on Media, Data, and Society at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, and an International Journalism Fellow at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. He is the Second Gentleman of California, husband of Lieutenant Governor Eleni Kounalakis.

See past research projects.

To Apply:

The application for the Spring 2023 POSC 395 Policy Research Internship is now closed. The application will reopen for the Fall 2023 semester in August 2023.

Please send any questions about the Policy Research Internship to