line drawing of the US National Monument in DC

Washington Summer Practicum


This summer we will offer two online evening seminars that meet Monday and Thursday evenings evenings from 6:00pm to 8:40pm. If the public health situation improves, courses will be offered in hybrid format. The featured courses for Summer 2021 are outlined below, along with the internship course.

PAI 700 | Disinformation and Influence in the Digital Age | Nina Jankowicz

This course will explore how global actors have weaponized false or misleading information to shape public perceptions, achieve strategic geopolitical goals, make money, and pollute the information environment. Students will study the new tools being used by state and non-state actors and examine the reach/effectiveness of disinformation campaigns in shaping public dialogue. This course will further explore how the practice of disinformation has changed in the information age, how both state and non-state actors weaponize technology, social networks, and other tools for dissemination, and what makes human beings and societies vulnerable to information operations. In addition to covering state-sponsored information operations, this course will also dive into financially motivated operations, the role of the media and state media, and the inadvertent spread of viral false information, differentiating between different types of campaigns. Additionally, students will have the opportunity to study how to detect these campaigns using open-source investigative techniques and discuss the difficulties of attribution particular to the information operations space. Finally, this course will explore regulatory, diplomatic, technological, and societal mitigations and interventions aimed at protecting the information environment, assessing their effectiveness. 

PAI 700 | 21st Century Strategy | Sean McFate

The art of war and grand strategy is often invoked yet rarely understood, resulting in catastrophe. Too often policy makers, members of congress, academics, think tankers, journalists, pundits and even flag officers discuss strategy but remain ignorant of the concept. Consequently, strategy is frequently confused with tactics, bureaucracy, academic theory and other things — all to ruinous effect — as evidenced in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. You will learn universal strategies for the strong, the weak and most things in between. We will examine the ideas of Sun Tzu, Kautilya, Jomini, Clausewitz, Mao, T.E. Lawrence, Galula and other scholar-practitioners. Case studies include the Peloponnesian War, American Revolution, 2006 Lebanon War and African warlords. The course will teach you how to think strategically and builds on what senior U.S. military officers learn at war colleges, taught by a professor at such an institution. However, we will probe much deeper than what is usually taught at war colleges and civilian institutions so that you are equipped to fight and win 21st century wars. 

PAI 700 | Washington Practicum | Mark Jacobson

Students can earn up to three credits working as an intern for an agency or organization that focuses on public and international affairs.