The American Studies Program (ASP) in Washington, D.C., is where big ideas and leading institutions meet. A semester with ASP will equip you with the tools and experiences you need to translate your campus education into a Christ-centered career in professional leadership and service. Through intensive internships, fieldwork, and coursework, nurture the leader within during your experience at ASP.

Connect With ASP

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Cybelle Barthelmess

Cybelle Barthelmess, Ed.D.

Director in Residence

Rachel Anstatt

Graduate Assistant Residence Director
Kurt Werthmuller, Ph.D.

Kurt Werthmuller, Ph.D.

Professor of Public Policy

Get ready for an extraordinary and unique Washington, D.C., experience. Your academic journey on the American Studies Program begins by looking at how we use our similarities and differences to engage our communities and become leaders. You’ll continue this conversation as you interact with expert scholars and policymakers and embark on internships, professional mentorship, and service opportunities as part of either the public policy or strategic communication track.

CHOOSE YOUR TRACK

Public Policy

You see today’s demands on national leadership to address the issues you care most about through greater innovation. You want to move beyond textbooks to engage the actual experts and institutions working on the issues. You want a global perspective on national policy options. What does it take to formulate and advocate for policies in pursuit of justice? What does it take to gain the clarity and confidence you need to help you find your place professionally among those already hard at work on these issues?

ASP’s public policy track investigates pressing public policy issues being debated on Capitol Hill. We focus on the political difficulties policymakers face when economic, humanitarian, and national security priorities come into conflict with one another. How might biblical teachings on shalom and justice help us navigate the trade-offs? We directly engage policy advocates and political actors on all sides of the issue to hear them explain the reasoning behind their positions, their points of disagreement with their policy opponents, and their impressions of what is required for their policy agenda to succeed on Capitol Hill.

Your education takes place outside the classroom through private briefings with think-tank specialists, U.S. House and Senate staff experts, and federal agency officials at their offices. Your research team conducts personal interviews with leading professionals in the executive branch, legislative branch, advocacy community, foreign embassies, and international organizations. You attend Congressional briefings and hearings, as well as think-tank conferences.

What do you gain from your hard work on the individual and group projects? You produce an original piece of research supported by Washington, D.C.-based fieldwork and leave with stories to tell that help distinguish your applications to post-graduate programs and professional employment opportunities. If you are a major or minor in political science, pre-law, public policy, history, or international relations, then this track may be perfect for you.

Required Courses Credits
3
3
Internship 6-9
Total Credits 12-15

Strategic Communication

Students discover cutting-edge best practices in the emerging field of strategic communication through Washington, D.C.-based fieldwork activities, client-work, and class lectures that will help them launch communications careers in any industry. We compare how different types of organizations — such as private companies, non-profit advocacy organizations, congressional offices, and more — develop strategic goals and objectives, choose appropriate communication channels and tactics, and measure outputs and impact outcomes. These learning objectives expound upon what the students learn in their communications internships.

Previous students have interned at the Washington Redskins (business development & operations department), the Heritage Foundation (strategic marketing department), the Trinity Forum (development department), the Borenstein Group, Philanthropy Magazine, U.S. House and Senate offices, and more. To build strong, Christian foundations for their careers, students will also engage program alumni and other Christian communication professionals to explore the ethical and ‘faithful practice’ of strategic communication.

Students with career interests in public relations, marketing and advertising, corporate strategy, fundraising and development, non-profit management, political campaigns, and media relations are strongly encouraged to apply.

*Note: The Strageic Communication Track is offered Spring Semester only.

Required Courses Credits
3
3
Internship 6-9
Total Credits 12-15

Internship

No city has a stronger collection of internship opportunities with leading national and international organizations than Washington, D.C. For over 40 years, ASP students have been securing high-intensity, high-impact placements with Congressional offices and committees, federal agencies, international businesses, law firms, think tanks, and global relief-and-development organizations. Students work four days a week for an average of 28 hours. The list of organizations, offices, and sites our alumni have interned at when they were ASP students is impressive and ever-growing. See a full list of past and present internship locations here.

The cornerstone of your D.C. semester will be an internship, where you will learn the best practices and further develop the skills necessary to enter the workforce after graduation. No city has a stronger collection of internship opportunities with leading national and international organizations than Washington, D.C.

Students wearing professional clothing sitting on the steps of the capitalAn internship with ASP will place you in the offices of Congressional leaders, among federal agencies, and inside law firms, think tanks or global relief-and-development organizations. For over 40 years, ASP has made internships a core component of the program, allowing each student to experience career development while on the job.

Your internship will provide you with an opportunity to gain work experience in a professional setting related to your academic studies and career interests. You will learn more about how professional organizations actually operate, including how ideas and theories learned on campus are applied in real time. Reflective journaling requirements are designed to help you make connections between what you are learning in the classroom and on the job, identify the specific analytical and interpersonal skill sets you are developing, and seek a clearer understanding of how your identity and callings in Christ shape your work. Over 12 weeks, you will work Monday through Thursday for an average of 28 hours a week (over 300 hours total for the semester!).

The testimony of our alumni, many of whom received job offers directly from their internship site or because of a connection made during their internship, speaks to the high-quality work ASP students produce at their places of work and their respected reputation in the city.

Past Internship Sites

With 40 years of sending interns to locations all over D.C., ASP’s list of past internship sites is diverse and extensive! The list grows every semester, as each student works with the internship coordinator to secure an internship that reflects his or her unique interests and professional development goals. Past internship sites include: 

  • Congressional Offices
  • Judicial Offices
  • U.S. Cabinet Departments
  • Embassies
  • Immigration Advocacy Organizations
  • Think Tanks
  • Local & International Businesses
  • Advocacy & Education Organizations
  • Smithsonian Museums
  • Relief & Development Organizations
  • Human Rights Organizations
  • Professional Sports Teams
  • PR Firms

Almuni Network

ASP is blessed with over 3,000 alumni. This loyal and active alumni base is over 40 years in the making, stretching back to our inaugural semester in Fall 1976. Presently, we have ASP alumni working in Washington, D.C. at:

  • The White House and other Executive Department Offices
  • The U.S. Supreme Court
  • Congressional leadership and personal offices of Democratic and Republican members
  • Research and advocacy organizations as communications and policy experts

And many of our alumni make careers outside of Washington, D.C., as policy professionals at the state or local level; as professors of history, law, or political science; as law enforcement officials and intelligence agents; as advocates for international relief-and-development organizations; and in leadership at countless for-profit, non-profit, and church-affiliated organizations.

Your semester in Washington, D.C., will be an experience that not only prepares you for your career, but also one that helps you create long-lasting friendships and memories.

Designed to help bridge your student and professional life, the community you become part of at ASP will support you along the way. As you spend the semester building a professional network by working and interning in our nation’s capital, you’ll also live with your peers in our Capitol Hill apartment building, the Dellenback Center.

You’ll enjoy exploring the endless activities the city has to offer, whether it’s a sporting event, venturing through the many museums, strolling through farmers markets, experiencing the different neighborhoods around the District, or enjoying the many activities outside of work and class we plan throughout the semester.

Housing

During the semester you will live in our four-story apartment building called the Dellenback Center. In the Dellenback you will live with roommates in a two-bedroom apartment, fully equipped with a full kitchen (supplied with basic kitchen items), living room, full bathroom, and in-apartment laundry. Additionally, there are a number of common spaces for student use during your time. We have two student lounges, a classroom, a conference room, a workout room, and a rooftop deck with a gorgeous view of the Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Neighborhood

We are located on Capitol Hill, one of the most iconic neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. Situated less than a mile from the Capitol building, we are in an ideal location for exploring the city. We are a 10-15 minute walk from Union Station, a 10-15 minute walk from Eastern Market Metro Station, and a 15-20 minute walk from the Capitol building and the National Mall. Capitol Hill is home to historic row homes, brick sidewalks, and rich history. We are halfway between the H Street Corridor and Eastern Market, both home to variety of restaurants, coffee shops, and small businesses. One of the highlights to check out is the Eastern Market Farmers Market, which takes place every weekend.

Transportation

D.C. has a very robust public transportation system and we are centrally located near several transit stops.

We are a 10-15 minutes’ walk from both Eastern Market Metro stop and Union Station, and between the two you can access four of the six Metro lines. There are also several buses that pick up close by, including the D6 bus, which picks up virtually outside of the Dellenback and will take you downtown.

Uber, Lyft, and taxis are other great ways to get around the city, and are relatively inexpensive. Additionally, there is a widely used bike share program in the city with monthly passes and many drop-off/pick-up points throughout the city.
**Please note, students are not permitted to bring cars to ASP as there is no parking available.

Neighborhood Engagement

We believe that engaging with local D.C. residents is an essential part of spending a semester at ASP. We want to ensure each ASP student gains a comparable amount of exposure to the peoples and cultures of both federal Washington and the neighborhoods of D.C. Part of what we uniquely offer are opportunities for students to enter into the communities in which they find themselves (now and in the future) not simply as visitors, but as residents and neighbors. While “visitors” come, observe, benefit, and leave “residents” come, care, invest, and learn through knowing and loving the people and the place. We encourage this learning in ASP—and with it a deeply rooted sense of place and purpose—through our Neighborhood Engagement Program. This program is facilitated in three ways: “Bus Days” (An organized city excursion where students discover the less-explored features and history of different D.C. neighborhoods), volunteer work with social service organizations, and attendance at Ward neighborhood meetings.

Student Activities

Although it can be a busy semester with so much to fit in, we try and have some fun along the way too! During the semester two community event planners (a student worker position) work with the residence director to plan events and community-building activities. With so many opportunities in the city, we try to balance a mix of on- and off-campus activities. Activities from past semesters include:

On Campus:

  • Trivia night
  • Political debate watch party and tailgate
  • Watch parties for other major events such as championships, awards shows, season finales, etc.
  • Apartment cook offs and potlucks
  • Game nights
  • Christmas tree decorating and holiday party

Off Campus:

  • Monument/Museum tours
  • Professional and collegiate sporting events
  • Cultural events (such as festivals, embassy tours, parades)
  • Concerts (from indie bands at small venues to the opera or the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center)

Family Night Dinner

One of our favorite and most cherished traditions at ASP is our weekly shared meal, which we call Family Night Dinner.

Once a week we gather together as a program for a meal to share food and fellowship.

The meal is generally catered from a local restaurant, and we always try and provide enough that there are leftovers for lunch the next day. Often times we will be joined by alumni who share a little of their experience from ASP and what they have been up to since they did they program. It is a time to relax, get to know each other, and for students, staff, guests, (and sometimes families too) to all come together.

Spiritual Life

Spiritual life is one of the areas in which we specifically challenge you to be independence this semester. There is no required chapel or Bible study, but we believe that faith should be a formational part of your life.

We strive to provide resources to help you take ownership of your own personal spiritual development.

One way we do that is by encouraging local church engagement; there are dozens of churches within walking distance and even more small groups and/or Bible studies you can join. We also provide resources and support for student-led initiatives such as worship nights, Bible studies, or prayer groups. Lastly, we strive to collectively model and live faith-informed lives where faith is not an isolated aspect of our lives, but something formational to our everyday practices and conversations.

The American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program that gives no preference to students in any particular field of study. However, a good academic record is necessary: students are required to maintain a GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale, regardless of major.

ASP is designed for students in their second, third, or fourth year in college. All full-time students earning credit toward their degree are eligible.

HOW DO I APPLY?

Simply complete an online application for the semester during which you plan to participate. Each campus makes its own policies regarding off-campus study, so you should consult your academic dean, off-campus study coordinator, and/or advising faculty member at your school to ensure completion of all campus requirements.

Before your application can be reviewed for admission, you must submit all of the following materials:

  • A completed online application form
  • $50 application fee (payable by check or credit card)
  • One faculty reference
  • One character reference
  • Official transcript(s) of all college course work
  • Certification Form

Fall 2021 Semester Dates:

Rolling Admissions

Application available until (or spots are filled) May 15
ASP begins on arrival Aug 11
ASP concludes Nov 23

Spring 2022 Semester Dates:

Rolling Admissions

Application available until (or spots are filled) Nov 1
ASP begins on arrival Jan 5
ASP concludes Apr 23

YAY! MY APPLICATION WAS ACCEPTED! NOW WHAT?

Once admitted into the program, you will be required to confirm your intent to participate by submitting a non-refundable $300 confirmation fee, which will be applied toward your program tuition.

You will also be required to complete additional confirmation and pre-departure materials, including but not limited to: waiver and liability forms, a medical information form, housing form, and internship questionnaire. But don’t worry! We will send you all of the details and instructions upon acceptance.

HOW MUCH DO I PAY & WHAT’S INCLUDED?

Deposits:
Typically, the only expenses ASP participants pay directly to the CCCU are the application fee ($50), the non-refundable confirmation fee ($300, deducted from the total housing fee at invoicing), and the $100 refundable security/damages deposit (this is paid prior to or upon arrival in Washington, D.C.).

Program Fees:
About six weeks before each semester begins, the CCCU sends participation invoices to each home campus. For the 2021-22 school year, that bill will feature the GlobalEd D.C. Programs semester costs below.

ASP PROGRAM FEES
Instructional Fees $12,200
Room $3,000
TOTAL ASP FEES $15,200
Confirmation Deposit ($300)
BALANCE OF ASP FEES $14,900

Keep in mind the total program costs billed to you through your school may differ, depending on your campus’s policies.

Note: Schools or individuals who pay with a credit card will also be charged a credit card service fee.

Expenses Covered by ASP Fees:

  • Recommended 15-16 hours of academic credit
  • Housing
  • Laundry facilities available at no cost (must provide own detergent, softener)
  • SmarTrip card (initial purchase fee covered, student reloads as necessary)
  • Family Night Dinners
  • Occasional outings

Additional Anticipated Expenses*:

  • Travel between your home and Washington, D.C.
  • $100 security/damages deposit (due upon arrival; refundable following post-departure inspection)
  • Health insurance, valid for entire length of stay/program dates
  • Meals (approximately $80/week)
  • Textbooks (approximately $100)
  • Local transportation (varies based on internship location; approximately $20-$50 per week)
  • Personal medical expenses, if incurred
  • Personal discretionary expenditures (recommend $45-$90 per week)

HOW DOES BILLING WORK FOR ASP PARTICIPATION?

The American Studies Program (ASP) is an extension campus of each member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU); each school grants the academic credit for program participation.

The CCCU invoices campuses for the cost of participation in ASP and in turn campuses bill their students following the campus’s established policies and procedures. (For example, some schools charge the exact fees of the off-campus program, other schools charge the campus tuition price, while others charge full on-campus fees plus an additional off-campus study fee. And there’s every variation in between!)

Since each school determines their own policies regarding off-campus study costs and the applicability of institutional scholarships and other aid, you should confirm your school’s policies with the Off-Campus Study Coordinator on your campus.

*Anticipated expenses are estimates that will be updated should local costs shift significantly. You may spend more/less depending on your personal spending habits.

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Financial Aid &
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Know Before You Go…

For the latest updates on our response to the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our COVID-19 Response page.

Studying off campus can be an exciting time filled with adventure and personal growth. Prepare yourself in advance for challenges you might face on the program. At ASP, you should anticipate: 

  • Living in regular, close-quarters community in a two-bedroom apartment with 3-5 other students, with shared bathrooms and bunk beds, kitchens, and communal spaces.
  • Living in an autonomous setting where a student is in charge of decisions such as meal planning/prep, budgeting, religious activity, etc. without the previously accustomed resources of their home campus (i.e. there is no cafeteria, housekeeping, required chapel, or free on-campus counseling services).
  • Sustaining a weekly schedule that requires evening studies after a full day of work at an internship.
  • Walking an average of two miles a day during the work week when commuting to internships and in-city class sessions. 
  • Spending time daily in the urban, culturally pluralistic context of Washington, D.C., engaging local Washingtonians, taking public transportation (buses, Metro trains, taxis), and exploring neighborhoods where stark imbalances between power and poverty often reside in the same space.
  • Experiencing potentially challenging personal, political, religious, and cultural learning, lectures, field trips and assignments. 

Admissions

Our goal is to make the admissions process for spending a semester in Washington, D.C., simple and easy to navigate. These FAQs will help guide you through the process.

When will I know if I am accepted?

We accept applications until all spots have been filled (usually around June for a fall semester; October for a spring semester). We recommend applying as soon as possible to better your chances of acceptance! Since we review applications on a rolling basis, the sooner you apply the sooner you will know your admissions status we review each completed application and make an admissions decision within five business days!

Note: Each campus makes its own policies regarding off-campus study, so you should consult your academic dean, off-campus study coordinator, and/or advising faculty member at your school to ensure completion of all campus requirements before submitting your ASP application.

What is the required grade point average to apply?

The American Studies Program is an interdisciplinary program. There is no preference to students in any particular field of study (it is not just for political science majors!). However, a good academic record is necessary: students are required to have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 on a 4.0 scale. ASP is designed for students in their second, third, or fourth year in college. All full-time students earning credit toward their degree are eligible.

Can I arrive at the program early/late or leave early/late? What is the attendance policy?

Students must attend every scheduled course activity, including their internships. However, we do try to be as flexible as possible to accommodate important family events (graduations, weddings, funerals, etc.). Please bring these events to our attention as soon as you can. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee housing availability outside of the program dates; ask for more details. Click here for the dates of our current and upcoming semesters.

I am an international student—am I eligible to attend ASP?

Yes, international students who are already enrolled in a U.S. or Canadian-based institution are welcome to participate in the program. Unfortunately, ASP is not able to sponsor an independent student visa (F-1 visa) for a student not currently enrolled in a U.S. or Canadian-based institution. Please call (202-548-5201) or email (admissions@cccu.org) us with questions about your specific situation.

What scholarship or financial aid options are there?

You can expect to use all of your federal and state financial aid to study off-campus through the American Studies Program. Additionally, many (but not all) campuses allow students to transfer some or all of their institutional financial aid, scholarships, and grants. Contact your off-campus study coordinator, financial aid office, or other applicable office on your campus for more information and to determine how much financial aid can be applied to your off-campus semester.

We understand that even after the financial aid options listed above, paying for a semester off-campus can be a daunting task, so we want to do whatever we can to help! Tuition fee reductions are available and are approved based on the student’s financial need. To apply for a fee reduction, you will need to complete the fee reduction request form after your application has been accepted. Ask your admissions coordinator for more information regarding this form.

Each semester, we offer paid student worker positions in departments throughout the CCCU (the President’s Office, GlobalEd, Facilities, IT, etc.). These positions are paid minimum wage ($15/hour in D.C.) and only average five hours a week, but students usually earn enough to assist with groceries and transportation costs.

Program Location

Deciding to spend a semester away from your campus can raise questions about where you’ll be living. Learn more about the neighborhood our apartments are located in, what our facilities offer, and how to navigate the city.

Where is ASP located in Washington, D.C.? Which neighborhood do we live in?

For 16 weeks, you’ll live in the Capitol Hill residential neighborhood. Many students are (pleasantly!) surprised to find that D.C. isn’t all suits and monuments—farmer’s markets, festivals, and a wide array of (free!) cultural offerings take place every day of the week! Your apartment building, the Dellenback Center, is eight blocks (less than a mile) from the U.S. Capitol, Supreme Court, and Library of Congress.

What do the ASP facilities offer?

You will be living in our four-story apartment building called the Dellenback Center. Each two-bedroom apartment is fully equipped with furniture, a full kitchen (supplied with basic kitchen items like plates, silverware, and pots/pans), living room/dining room, full bathroom, and washer/dryers. Each apartment houses 4-6 students. Additionally, there are a number of common spaces, including two student lounges (with TVs), a classroom, conference room, workout room, and a rooftop deck!

How will I get around?

Washington, D.C. has a robust public transportation system. The Dellenback Center is located in the heart of Capitol Hill with convenient access to two metro stops Eastern Market and Union Station. Both are a short 15-20 minute walk. There are also several bus stops at each street corner near us. DC is also a very walkable city by the end of the semester, students are surprised to find themselves walking places where they initially took public transportation. Due to limited space, students are not allowed to bring their car.

What is the weather like?

Weather in Washington is fairly moderate. If you’re a fall semester student, you will most likely experience a still-warm August and September before enjoying the lovely autumn foliage; you may even see snow before you leave. For the spring semester, you should prepare for the possibility of January and February snow and a few rainy days—but you can also look forward the beautiful cherry blossom season. On a whole, D.C. has more sunny days than cloudy.

Academics

Some of the most important questions you might have about spending a semester in Washington, D.C., focus on the classes you’ll be taking and where you’ll be interning.

What will I be studying?

All ASP students are required to enroll in a 9-credit Internship course, 1-credit Professional Development Practicum course, and then choose between our Public Policy study track or Strategic Communication study track. Each study track is comprised of two 3-credit courses. You will earn 15 credits total for the semester.

Current course descriptions and syllabi can be found in the academics section.

Do I get academic credit for this program? How many credits can I take?

Yes, by a process we refer to as “course substitution.” In short, the courses you take at ASP are substituted for courses you would otherwise elect or be required to take in order to earn your major, minor, or general degree on your home campus. You remain enrolled at your home campus while at ASP, so your ASP courses show up on your transcript as courses provided by your home campus.

Do ASP courses count towards my major?

It is up to your academic advisor and other campus administrators (registrar, provost) to decide how your 15 credits of academic work will be substituted for other coursework. We strongly encourage you to clarify with them early on in the application process about which electives or required courses your ASP courses will substitute for. ASP faculty are happy to work with your advisors to provide additional information or answer any questions about coursework as part of this process.

How does the internship work?

The internship is the primary way you will customize your semester here. Once you are accepted into the program, you will be prompted to fill out an internship questionnaire through the application portal. When this is filled out, our internship coordinator will reach out and you two can begin working together on your internship search. They will help you narrow down which organizations fit your interests and goals. After you determine the organization(s) of your choice, then it’s time to start submitting applications! Make sure that you check each organization’s website to identify due dates and decision timelines. Note: We do not place you in an internship; securing an internship is your first professional development accomplishment in D.C. and is great practice for post-graduation job applications.

Where will I be taking classes?

ASP’s classrooms are located on the main floor of the Dellenback Center (student apartments make up the top three floors of the building, shared student spaces are on the main floor, and faculty offices are located in the basement). That said, ASP is truly an experiential education program. During the semester, many of our class sessions occur in the city at briefings with communications or public policy professionals and organizations. Both study tracks offer equally intensive fieldwork study experiences.

Daily Life

These FAQs cover everything from the community you’ll become part of, how faith plays a role during your semester, and some of the highlights of daily life here.

What is the spiritual life like at ASP?

Similar to many things at ASP, spiritual development is one of the areas that we encourage you to press into and take ownership of this semester. We do not require chapel or Bible study, but we do believe that faith should be a formational part of your life here and will provide resources to help you take ownership of this. One way we do that is by encouraging local church engagement; there are dozens of churches within walking distance (hundreds more throughout the rest of the city) and even more small groups and/or Bible studies you can join. We also provide resources and support for student-led initiatives such as worship nights, Bible studies, or prayer groups. Lastly, we strive to collectively model and live faith-informed lives where faith is not an isolated aspect of our lives, but something formational to our everyday practices and conversations.

What is a typical week like?

With so much going on and so many opportunities, it is hard to say what a typical day looks like, but (generally) each week is structured as follows: From Monday through Thursday, you will be at your internship site, working hours set out by your supervisor. On Monday afternoons and Fridays, you will be in class, either in the Dellenback classroom or out in the city for briefings and meetings. Additionally, there is one evening commitment each week—on one weeknight (subject to change each semester) we all meet together for a catered meal that we call Family Night Dinner. Outside of classes, internships, and Family Night Dinner, there are also student activities (planned by students and staff) and a few special events/activities throughout the semester. Other than that, the rest of your time is your own to use to balance personal life with your other commitments. We specifically try to keep most weekends open so that you are free to explore the city and have time to do the other things you want and need to do.

Does ASP offer a meal plan?

We do not offer a formal meal plan. Part of the goal of ASP is to give you a window into life after graduation, so you will cook most of your meals in your apartment kitchen and do your own grocery shopping. Monday nights, all of the students, faculty, and staff will join together for Family Night Dinner—a catered meal to reconnect in the midst of busy internship and coursework schedules. If you have any special dietary restrictions, please be sure to let us know so we can accommodate those for all program provided meals.

What is the program community like?

There are many factors that go into the community aspect of ASP you can read more about them on the experience page. Generally, your roommates and classmates will come from all around the country and even the world. They may hold different political beliefs, theological perspectives, and cultural backgrounds. Regardless of where students come from, though, everyone is unified in the challenge of life in a new city with new responsibilities and being able to process it all together.

Contact Us

Have questions or want more information about the American Studies Program?
Please call us at 202-548-5201 or fill out the form below, and one of our team members will contact you soon!

CyBelle Barthelmess

Ed.D. Higher Education Leadership, Azusa Pacific University
M.A. International Education, School for International Training
B.A. Communications/Urban Youth Work, Gordon College

For the last 20 years, Dr. CyBelle (Belle) Barthelmess has designed and implemented curriculum, programs, and initiatives to create mindful, diverse, and healing communities that reflect the mosaic Imago Dei. Belle has served as a student life practitioner and faculty member at the International Training Institute in South Africa, Whitworth University, Geneva College, and for the last five years, at Azusa Pacific University. From canoeing down the Amazon in Peru, to supporting local farmers in Fiji, to exegeting major cities around the globe, Belle is an educator at heart with a deep love for empowering college students. In each course Belle has taught, she prioritizes intertwining theory and practice of engaged pedagogy, sociocultural anthropology, intercultural competence, leadership, and identity development. Belle earned her Doctorate in Higher Education Leadership at Azusa Pacific University. She focused her doctoral research on systemic approaches to create actively antiracist communities at predominantly white evangelical institutions. Her research strengthened her passion and hope for Christian higher education to be an impetus for change and healing across boundaries of segregation that dehumanize those who look, think, believe, vote, worship, and love divergent from one’s conception of rightness. This is foundational to who Belle is and how she strives to live out her faith, emulating the incarnation of Jesus; the ultimate iconoclast.

Rachel Anstatt

B.A. Psychology, Wheaton College

Rachel Anstatt is pursuing her M.A. in International Education at George Washington University. She graduated from Wheaton College with her B.A. in Psychology and worked full-time in residence life for two years at Black Forest Academy, an international Christian boarding school in Germany. She enjoys creating safe and supportive spaces for students in global transition to reflect on their experiences and develop their identities. A firm believer in the power of social support to positively affect mental health and the importance of developing empathy and global competence through meaningful interactions with people of different backgrounds, cultures, values, and beliefs, Rachel is dedicated to facilitating an inclusive and growth-minded community for all students.

Kurt Werthmuller

Ph.D. Islamic & Middle Eastern History, University of California, Santa Barbara
M.A. Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University
B.A. History, Messiah University

Kurt Werthmuller is currently a Supervisory Policy Analyst at the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom with a particular emphasis on religious freedom in Egypt and the Levant. Prior to joining USCIRF, he was an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the American University in Dubai, where he taught medieval and modern Middle Eastern history as well as regional politics and culture. His academic work has focused on the historical relationships of regional non-Muslim communities to wider Muslim-majority state and society in Egypt and the Levant, which he examined in his book, Coptic Identity and Ayyubid Politics in Egypt, 1218-1250 (American University in Cairo Press, 2010). He is also the author of many short-form scholarly works on regional topics, including a series of historical entries for Oxford University’s Dictionary of African Biography (2011), and he received a Fulbright-Hays fellowship to conduct dissertation research in Cairo, Egypt in 2004-2005. Dr. Werthmuller previously worked as a senior analyst with CyberPoint International (Abu Dhabi, UAE), as a research fellow with Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, as Associate Professor of History at Azusa Pacific University, and as Assistant Professor of History at Geneva College. He received a Ph.D. in Islamic & Middle Eastern History from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University, and a B.A. in history from Messiah University.

The Politics of Public Policy

3 credits

In this course, students directly engage Washington, D.C.-based policy experts and organizations—governmental and non-governmental, national and international—to deepen their understanding of the roles and influence of various political actors and institutions during the formulation stage of policymaking. The course first introduces students to models of policymaking and the tools of policy analysis. Next, students will learn to apply these concepts to the study of both a foreign and domestic policy issue through desk and field research. By studying foreign and domestic policy simultaneously, students will be able to identify and explain the differences between them in political environment, policy participants, and public discourse. The course emphasizes written and oral communication through the development of professional memo-writing and presentation skills.

Christian Political Engagement: Contemporary Perspectives and Practices

3 credits

This course provides students with an opportunity to learn how political theology is applied in the political environment of Washington, D.C. The first course module focuses on key questions found in the discipline of political theology, such as the relationship between theology and politics, the relationship between church and state, the role of religion in public life, and to what extent religious belief ought to shape our public discourse. The second module investigates how key features of modern and post-modern cultures—the context in which the faithful practice of politics takes place—influence mainstream political perspectives on identity, authority, justice, and community. The final module engages a variety of Washington, D.C.-based Christian political groups and professionals to better understand why different political identities and priorities exist within Christianity and the difficulties and concerns Christians share when putting political theology into practice. Classroom conversations incorporate reflections on internship and policy fieldwork experiences to deepen understanding of the real-world relevance of political theology and Christians’ own political responsibilities.

Case Studies in Strategic Communication

3 credits

This course provides an opportunity to directly engage Washington, D.C.-based communication professionals working in a variety of organizational contexts (for-profit, governmental, and non-profit) to learn the different ways in which communicators apply the concepts and skills of strategic planning in their work. The course first introduces students to a strategic planning framework for public relations. Next, students will learn how to apply these concepts to the practice of communications by engaging professionals through a series of site visits. The course will also engage communication professionals in order to highlight best practices in development and fundraising. The course emphasizes written and oral communication through the development of professional memo-writing and presentation skills.

Christian Public Engagement for Communicators

3 credits

This course provides an opportunity to learn how the issues and ideas presented in the study of communication ethics manifest themselves in the professional environment of Washington, D.C. The first course module focuses on key questions found in the discipline of public theology, such as the relationship between church and other societal institutions (e.g. the state), the role of religion in public life, and to what extent religious belief ought to shape our public discourse. The second module investigates how key features of modern and post-modern cultures—the context in which the faithful practice of communication takes place—influence mainstream perspectives on identity, authority, justice, and community. The final module engages a variety of Washington, D.C.-based Christian organizations and communication professionals to deepen one’s understanding of the ethical challenges Christian communication professionals encounter and what they are learning from experience about how to engage them. Classroom conversations incorporate reflections on internship and fieldwork experiences to enable students to explain more clearly their own sense of responsibility to Christ and neighbor in their work as communication professionals.