Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

"I think a lot of people studying Public Policy tend to focus on policymaking at the federal level, and then within that legislative functions in particular. My internship at RIDE - at the state agency level - helped me see that policymaking extends to so much more than that."

Student Spotlight: Jacob Binder

Name: Jacob Binder '18

Concentration: Public Policy

Hometown: West Hartford, CT

How long have you been working with RIDE?

I've been interning at the Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) for the past seven months, starting in the summer then continuing through the semester. My work there involved helping implement standards for Rhode Island educator preparation programs (Brown included), coordinating various educator recognition programs, and reviewing approaches in other states and relevant data  to inform agency-level policy. One of the most meaningful parts of my experience was the access; the staff I worked with treated me as a member of the team and valued my input on their work. I wasn't just making copies or doing the dirty work. It was really great to see how my work there directly contributed to the functions of the department.

How has the internship impacted your interest in Public Policy?

I think a lot of people studying Public Policy tend to focus on policymaking at the federal level, and then within that legislative functions in particular. My internship at RIDE - at the state agency level - helped me see that policymaking extends to so much more than that. In working out the specificities of each statute or regulation, workers in the bureaucracy play a crucial part in the policy process. In education policy in particular, I've seen how implementation can make or break the eventual success of a policy.

How do you see your intern experience relating to my Brown education?

It's been great to get outside of the 'Brown bubble' and work with with real people in the Providence/Rhode Island community. Because it's a small state and we're located right in the heart of the capital city, we have such great access and I think sometimes not enough students here take advantage of that. I think field experience and academic coursework complement each other, especially experience in the local community. I'm the kind of person that thinks more concretely - I'd rather study the daily realities of policy problems that are actually going on in our neighborhood over some abstract political theory. In fact, the emphasis on solution-driven thinking is what drew me to Public Policy in the first place.