Washington program a boon to OPC majors

by Beacon Staff • October 14, 2007

Our View: The program expands exciting professional opportunities for students.,Washington, D.C. might not offer the delightful tattoo parlors of Hollywood or coffee shops of the Netherlands, but soon enough Emerson will be bringing its own particular character to the nation's capital.

Next fall, the Department of Organizational and Political Communication will help pilot an new external program for Emersonians-moving them from Beacon Hill to Capitol Hill.

According to an article in this week's Beacon, the semester-long test program-which is intended to become permanent-will give students a chance to live and work in the highly-charged political atmosphere of Washington, D.C.

The school plans for students to live in buildings leased by the college and to intern for lobbying organizations, think tanks and non-government organizations.

Administrators had no trouble promoting the school's move from a humble campus on Beacon Street in the Back Bay to its current location in the revitalized Theatre District at the corner of Boylston and Tremont streets.

With this recent pattern of real estate expansion, all the back-patting on the home front has diverted attention from the college's external programs.

Some of the best things now happening at Emerson College are happening outside of Boston.

Regardless of admiration or aversion to this new D.C. branch, the ever-swelling campus puts new tools at the fingertips of Emerson's patented "communicators." At the campus in the Netherlands, Emersonians earn a little bit of old-world cultural background; in L.A., they get a taste of the future. But in the nation's capital they can finally be in the thick of current affairs.

In hindsight, the expansion seems inevitable. Emerson's two prominent pre-existing external programs are continually popular among students, and Emerson is always looking for a way to enlarge its cultural footprint. Washington offers something that neither the Hollywood nor the Kasteel Well programs could: a real enticement to organizational and political communications majors.

Especially attractive might be the internship opportunities in the capital. Emerson students can intern around the country or internationally with the ever-important seal of approval from the college.

But the red tape and costs of such endeavors can prove prohibitive. The process is disheartening; often it provides incentive to stay within safe proximity of Emerson when choosing internships. Suffolk University, Emerson's neighbor on Tremont Street, offers programs in 24 countries around the world. Likewise, Boston University offers students a chance to study abroad in 20 countries, in addition to five national programs for undergraduate students.

Most importantly, the program will open up classroom doors for its students. Too much of the average college career is spent on lectures, papers and exams. Experience is the true key to career prosperity, and this test program, if it is successful, could be the one thing that separates Emerson students from the pack.

Emersonians, future leading professionals that we are, should welcome this much-needed addition to our curriculum. Learning the nuances and language of Washington will give political communication majors the key to navigating the world of public policy.

There is no doubt why Emerson provides the visual and media arts students a chance to work in Hollywood-it is center of the entertainment industry for the entire world. The vanity of Capitol Hill may not have the same appeal as the glitz of the nation's entertainment capital, but if the college plays its cards right, it will be the site for an important new chapter in Emerson history.