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Study Tour Information

Our study tours during the fourth and fifth weeks to the Midwestern prairie area surrounding the Illinois state capital of Springfield, and the major urban centers of Chicago and Washington, D.C., will show you parts of the U.S. that are very different from the unglaciated hill country, national forest, lakes, and small towns of Southern Illinois. Transportation to Springfield and Chicago will be on a full-sized chartered coach and the overnight stays will be double occupancy in downtown hotels.  

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum

The tours will build directly upon our on campus program. Part of the Springfield time will be a visit to the Abraham Lincoln Museum and Presidential Library for a look at the leadership traits of our 16th President, seen worldwide as one of the greatest leaders in human history, as he held the country together during a civil war and ended slavery – one of the major social changes in our history. The Civil War and Lincoln’s presidency also marks a significant redefinition in the U.S. federal arrangement. Before the war, Lincoln’s famous phrase would have more accurately described the U.S. national government if worded, “government of the states, by the states and for the states.” But that changed dramatically during his administration.   

Illinois State Capitol - Springfield

Other Springfield activities will focus on the state and federal policy-making process. One event will be a session with Bill Houlihan, Down State Director for U.S. Senator Richard Durbin. Another will be with Liz Brown-Reeves on lobbying the state legislature, and a third with Dr. Renee Baker, a former state department head, on the role of the bureaucracy in implementing policy. The general focus of all sessions will be on how the mix of ideas on the broad policy agenda become specific provisions for legislation. Finally, we will have a talk on the state court system by a staff attorney for the Illinois Supreme Court. 

The Chicago trip will focus on how the third largest city in the nation is governed locally within some constraints set by the federal and state governments. Tentatively, we will meet Cook County Water Reclamation Commissioner Debra Shore and do a tour of the Cook County Board of Elections to see how democratic elections are conducted in a city of this size. We will also meet with Illinois State Senator Dan Biss to discuss state-level public finance issues.

Past participants with Chicago Skyline

Another Chicago day will include a tour of both traditional tourist sites and ethnic neighborhoods of the city emphasizing the diversity of its population. Chicago claims residents born in 150 countries. This activity will include a drive through President Obama’s neighborhood adjoining the University of Chicago.  While on the University of Chicago campus, we tentatively will meet with David Axelrod, Director of The Institute of Politics, Chief Campaign Adviser for President Obama’s successful 2008 and 2012 campaigns, and Senior Adviser to the President from 2009-2011. On that day, we also will have lunch at a restaurant in an ethnic neighborhood representing the homelands of some of our participants, and offer an evening in Millennium Park for those who wish. Eddie Mazur, Professor Emeritus of Urban Studies at the University of Illinois-Chicago will serve as our guide. Some time in Chicago also will be left unscheduled for visits to various museums and other cultural sites.

Washington D.C.

The Institute will conclude with a four-night, three-day trip to Washington, D.C. Tentatively we plan to attend the traditional Thursday Illinois breakfast with U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Mark Kirk. We also will do tours of the Capitol, Supreme Court, Arlington Cemetery, and the monuments on the National Mall. We will meet with Brian Lamb, the founder of CSPAN, to discuss the role of the media in public policy making.

Wednesday morning is scheduled for the debriefing session with staff from the ECA Branch for the Study of the U.S., which will include information about future activities and study opportunities with emphasis on the State Department’s Alumni Association.