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Wilson Center starts foreign policy fellowship program

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is launching a new foreign-policy fellowship meant to help congressional staffers smarten up on foreign policy. "It’s very personal to me, because security and intelligence are my bag and I spent 119 dog years in Congress trying to be informed and sensible about a lot of foreign-policy issues ...

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The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is launching a new foreign-policy fellowship meant to help congressional staffers smarten up on foreign policy.

"It's very personal to me, because security and intelligence are my bag and I spent 119 dog years in Congress trying to be informed and sensible about a lot of foreign-policy issues and there was really no place to learn," said former Congresswoman Jane Harman, now the president of the Wilson Center, in an interview with The Cable. "Especially on China, I felt the information gap was particularly large and both parties showed a total lack of nuance, especially during election season."

The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars is launching a new foreign-policy fellowship meant to help congressional staffers smarten up on foreign policy.

"It’s very personal to me, because security and intelligence are my bag and I spent 119 dog years in Congress trying to be informed and sensible about a lot of foreign-policy issues and there was really no place to learn," said former Congresswoman Jane Harman, now the president of the Wilson Center, in an interview with The Cable. "Especially on China, I felt the information gap was particularly large and both parties showed a total lack of nuance, especially during election season."

The program is a six-week seminar series featuring scholars, analysts, and policy practitioners who will meet with a select group of about 30 staffers from both chambers and both sides of the aisle on Friday afternoons for in-depth, interactive sessions on foreign policy — followed by pizza and beer.

The program will be led by the Wilson Center Vice President for New Initiatives Aaron David Miller and Harman’s Chief of Staff Jeewon Kim. Wilson held an information session about the new fellowship Thursday on Capitol Hill. Applications are due by March 18 and the first program begins in April.

"The fact that this is nonpartisan and bipartisan is critically important," Miller told The Cable. "The key is not advocacy; it’s education."

Miller has already lined up as speakers former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, Brookings Institution scholar Robert Kagan, former Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy, AEI Scholar Norman Ornstein, and many others.

The first session will be on the question "Is American still the indispensable nation?," and the next sessions will focus on China and Russia, emerging powers, a session on Congress and foreign policy, and more. The program is being funded by the Carnegie Corporation and the Hewett Foundation.

The focus will be on attracting staffers who don’t necessarily work on foreign-policy issues all day already but who have an interest in building up their expertise, Harman said.

"Mid-[level] to senior staffers stay on the Hill for a long time — they are the staffers that members rely on. Maybe we can develop a professional cadre of informed bipartisan staff who will help the institution of Congress do much better policymaking. That’s what the agenda is," Harman said.

Read the brochure here.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

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