Ten of the University of West Georgia’s top-ranked political science students had the opportunity recently to visit the Georgia Capitol and meet with Gov. Nathan Deal and Associate Supreme Court Justice Keith Blackwell.
Karen Owen, assistant professor of political science, teaches an upper-level political science course on the legislative process that recently studied the institutional development of Congress and the Georgia Assembly and the law-making procedures within these institutions – as well as inter-branch relations.
Owen organized and facilitated the day at the Capitol as an opportunity of experiential learning for her students–allowing them the opportunity to see a hub where political work is driven.
“I want students to be actively engaged in our political environment before they graduate. For many of my students, this was their first trip to the Georgia Capitol,” Owen continued, “I was excited to see their faces when they walked into the rotunda of the Capitol and see their curiosity about what legislative and executive functions transpired under this gold dome.”
Students toured the Georgia Capitol and observed legislative chambers and the influential political artifacts housed on the fourth floor. In addition, they met with Deal and listened to his political experience as a legislator and now chief executive. He shared stories of his political campaigns for Congress and for the governorship. He also explained the process of lawmaking and enacting significant public policies.
The students met with Blackwell in the State Supreme Court’s courtroom where they participated in a mock oral argument exercise and discussed the role of the court in interpreting matters from the legislative and the executive branches.
“These 10 students explored politics in the natural setting of the Capitol,” Owen added. “They were able to walk into the House and Senate chambers and feel what it must be like to represent citizens and pass legislation. Their time with Gov. Deal made an impression about how they can serve and be engaged in politics.”
Allowing the students to fully enlighten themselves of the political process within the three branches of Georgia’s government, the trip showed the students new possibilities of working at the Capitol.