June 26, 2015

SIU hosts central Asia students studying public policy

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale is once again hosting 20 of central Asia’s most promising undergraduate students for the next four weeks to study the nation’s political system and gain a better understanding of Southern Illinois. 

Students from Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are visiting as part of the “Study of the U.S. Institute for Student Leaders.”  The U.S. Department of State program seeks to promote a better understanding of the U.S. abroad and to help develop future world leaders. The focus is on local, state and federal public policy making. 

The students arrived on campus June 20 and will spend the next four weeks participating in a variety of classroom activities and lectures featuring university officials.  The students will also sit in on classes and gain insights from faculty in the political science, history, economics and philosophy departments, as well as the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and the SIU School of Law. 

The final five days of the students’ visit in the United States will be in Washington, D.C., where activities include a wide variety of cultural tours and attractions, including meetings in the Old Executive Office Building and at C-SPAN and sessions with U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, The students return home July 26.


Media Advisory

Reporters, camera crews and photographers may cover some of the activities listed on the schedule during the students’ stay in Carbondale.  Students may also be available for interviews.  The program overview is available at institute.siu.edu and the activity calendar is available here.  For more information and to arrange interviews, contact John L. Foster, institute director at 618/453-2121, 618/319-0670, or at jlfoster@siu.edu, or John S. Jackson, visiting professor at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at 618/453-3106 or at jsjacson@siu.edu.

 The SIU Carbondale program will cover a range of subjects necessary to understand the functioning of American government, politics and public policy making.  The American studies topics will include democracy, political culture, demographic diversity, the creation of a civil society built on an extensive network of non-profit organizations, the U.S. Constitutional framework and the Rule of Law. 

Students will tour Carbondale city government operations, participate in volunteer activities at the Carbondale Boys and Girls Club, the Senior Citizens Center, and two local environmental organizations, Green Earth and Keep Carbondale Beautiful. They will also attend a minor league baseball game, Sunset Concerts on the SIU campus, spend a weekend with families in the Chester area, and participate in the Kaskaskia Island Fourth of July celebration.  

The students will also take cultural trips to St. Louis, Chicago and Springfield and meet with policy makers on a variety of topics including public financing. 

The state department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs sponsor the program.  This is the 17th institute the university has hosted dating back to mid-1990s. The initiative began with hosting international faculty members, with the focus switching in 2003 to students. More than 330 students and faculty have participated in SIU’s program. 

John L. Foster, emeritus faculty in the Department of Political Science, is administrative director. John S. Jackson, a visiting professor with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute and Barbara Brown, a statewide political party leader, are academic co-directors. 

“The U.S. State Department has a long-term commitment to educational and cultural exchanges and this program is one of the best examples of that commitment,” Jackson said. “It seeks to increase the understanding of American culture and the American political system among the younger generation of emerging student leaders in countries that are important influences in their part of the world.  We are glad to welcome these young people to Illinois and to the Midwest and to introduce them to our area and its warm and generous people.  These exchanges are the most effective way to make friends overseas.”