Michael Lord reflects on the memorable moments throughout the years when the late Congressman John Lewis met with thousands of students who participated in The Washington Campus courses.
“I always remember that it never got old,” says Lord, president of The Washington Campus. “I always remember that he brought so many people to tears, but they were tears of catharsis because when he shared what he had been through in his lifetime, he always left everyone feeling hopeful.”
Lewis spoke to students about progress, which made the current challenges feel less daunting. “He always embodied and encouraged what we at The Washington Campus do and say, which is engage in whatever way you’re able.”
As a non-profit, non-partisan, higher education consortium, The Washington Campus organizes one-day to one-week programs that offer graduate management students, especially MBA students, a close look at public policy and its impact on businesses, industries, and the economy – sometimes as events are unfolding.
The founders of The Washington Campus had that closeness exactly in mind. Led by the late Bill Seidman, former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, a group of senior government officials, business executives, and academic representatives came together in 1978 to launch the non-profit organization.
“It was really focused on filling a gap in the MBA curriculum, which was that business and government have to interact and they should interact effectively, but that business doesn’t really understand government and government doesn’t really understand business,” says Lord.
While the traditional MBA curriculum covered the functional areas, such as accounting, finance, marketing, it didn’t really address public policy issues. For general managers, C-suite executives, and entrepreneurs, public policy knowledge becomes incredibly important when tax bills, new regulations, or other forms of public policy impact business, he says.
“The Washington Campus was founded to bridge that gap in terms of understanding of the critical relationships between business and government and to do it in an experiential way by bringing students here to Washington, D.C., and immerse them in it.”
Now, students from all types of MBA programs, including Executive MBA Programs, as well as executive education offerings and specialty master’s and undergraduate degree programs, take part in The Washington Campus offerings.
For EMBA Programs, The Washington Campus offers customized residency courses for single school cohort EMBA Programs, as well as open enrollment courses for students from any accredited school in the United States or abroad.
The content covers wide ground that typically includes the regulatory process, legislative policymaking, tax and fiscal policy, trade relations, lobbying and advocacy in public policy, and the role of associations and coalitions. Courses for overseas schools and programs include cross-cultural components. The Washington Campus also offers deeper dive programs on health care policy, financial regulation, and accounting and public policy.
In recent years, course content has expanded to help address new challenges of a broader landscape of public affairs and the broader set of skills that executives need to deal with those challenges, says Lord. Increasingly, content integrates topics such as social media, environmental, social, and governance (ESG), corporate social responsibility (CSR), and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI).
During programs, students hear from top lobbyists, top corporate and association executives, legislators, and other policymakers.
“It really is about immediately immersing them in the experience,” says Lord. “Then we get them out and about into D.C. as much as possible, including visits to the National Press Club and Capitol Hill Club. They hear from speakers on media and social media and meet with members of Congress, staffers, government regulators.”
On the corporate side, senior executives with companies such as Google, Facebook, Samsung, American Express, and Mars bring their public policy perspectives to students, as do those who make and shape policy on trade, cybersecurity, and immigration. Former leaders of the Congressional Budget Office and the White House Council of Economic Advisors lead discussions on fiscal and monetary policy.
The Washington Campus joined EMBAC many years ago, as the MBA marketplace began to diversify beyond the full-time MBA. EMBAC offers a place to network, to connect with and explore new ideas with members, and to share knowledge. Lord is looking forward to this year’s in-person EMBAC Conference and the informal interactions that happen there.
Those relationships with EMBAC members help The Washington Campus as it moves forward. The pandemic necessitated a switch to online offerings and opened the door for more delivery options. The Washington Campus has returned most of its programming to in-person, but the pandemic revealed a demand for online learning.
“We will continue to offer online course offerings,” says Lord, as well as explore different formats and options for online and look at new and emerging topic areas, such as artificial intelligence and policy.
“We will continue to innovate and evolve as Executive MBAs and EMBA Programs evolve, and we welcome input from our existing EMBA partners as well as new ones.”
Lord enjoys seeing the impact of The Washington Campus experience on students, who begin to understand how important and integral public affairs and public policy are to their strategy and their bottom line.
“I think the most satisfying part of my work is that we’re part of the solution. By solution, I mean to try to make the country and the world a better place. Business is powerful, and business is taking on new roles. As politics gets confused and chaotic and partisan, people are expecting business to step up and take more of a public role and to help shape public affairs and public policy in new and different ways.
“We leave our program participants not only more accurately informed, but also empowered to engage,” he says. “The more that business is effectively engaged, the more it will make better public policy so it’s a win-win all around for students, for their companies, and for the country and the world.”
For more information about The Washington Campus, contact Michael Lord at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit here