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Clay Congress 2018

The biggest strength in this program lies in bringing together 50 students from so many different backgrounds. It challenges us to rethink how we make relationships and the notion that we can only be friends with those who hold the same opinions as ourselves. This is a big thing for people going into public service to think about and was really helpful for me personally.

- Participant feedback

In May, exemplary college students from around the country participated in the annual Clay Congress, which is sponsored by the Henry Clay Center for Statesmanship. For one week, collegians gather in Lexington at the University of Kentucky with the purpose of learning the "lost art of negotiation, goodwill, and compromise." The Martin School is proud to partner with the Henry Clay Center by developing and facilitating programming.

Some of the highlights from the week:

  • A visit to the national headquarters of the Council of State Governments, which included leadership development activities;
  • Workshops and panel presentations on the policy process;
  • Bipartisan policy solution project

The policy project is a cornerstone of the program, and is meant to simulate the policy process. Students were placed in to subcommittees to tackle one of four policy problems-- immigration, health care, relations with North Korea, and net-neutrality/e-commerce. Students for each policy topic were placed in teams. The teams were assigned ideological stances and told to work together to find a solution, mimicking democracy in action. Participants often were assigned to ideologies that conflicted with their own, challenging them to better understand alternative perspectives. They also had the opportunity to weigh in on the proposals of other teams.

Doctoral students from the Martin School played an important role in the development of programming, and its execution. Pictured above are participants with doctoral student Andrew Sullivan (third from top left), who acted as an advisor and coach to students as they developed their policy solutions. We hope all the participants enjoyed their visit to the Bluegrass State! We look forward to continuing our outreach work with partners like the Henry Clay Center.