Yale Daily News

On Tuesday, the Yale Politics Initiative announced a new master-class series called “In-Depth: Conversations on the American Political Process with Members of Congress,” which will feature Congress members such as former Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Rep. Sean Maloney, D-N.Y., Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md.

“In-Depth” is a new series that will run concurrently with the YPI’s two other master-class series: “First Hand”, which focuses on the practical skills and techniques behind political campaigns, and “Off the Record,” which focuses on general political practice.

“This new master class is different because it provides an opportunity to converse directly with the politicians who are implementing national policies,” said Paul Gross ’20, YPI’s co-director. “A lot of students know in theory what politicians do. But we want to know what the people who are in office are actually doing and what it has taken for them to win.”

The series of one-time seminars will each include approximately 20 students, the guest politician and a political science or law school professor who will moderate the discussion. The series requires interested students to apply separately for each class in which they are interested.

The first master class will take place on Feb. 18 and will feature Matt Gaetz, who has served as the representative for Florida’s 1st congressional district since 2017. He also serves on the Budget, Armed Services and Judiciary Committees.

Michael Michaelson ’20, YPI’s co-director, stressed the conversational and non-partisan nature of the seminars.

“It’s all off the record, which means that the politicians can be a lot more candid and provide their personal opinions of their various experiences,” Michaelson said. “We don’t want these classes to be just for politics majors or any one group of people affiliated with a specific party. We want classes that are representative of the whole community as a whole.”

Gross said that he and Michaelson came up with the idea for “In-Depth” last summer, but it was the speaker event featuring Chris Murphy last October that “really got the ball rolling”.

After the event, they began directly reaching out to politician’s offices and received positive responses from many officials.

“Many politicians were pretty enthusiastic about the prospect of being able to come to college campuses, teach a class and have candid conversations with students,” Michaelson said.

Yale students interviewed by the News were excited at the opportunity that the series offers.

James Barringer ’22, who attended a YPI “Off the Record” event last semester featuring former Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, said he would be interested in taking such a master class.

“Just looking at the speakers’ list, I’m impressed by the political and geographic diversity of the speakers,” Barringer said. “I only recognize around half of the names, but I think I am definitely interested in the ones that feature Jeff Flake, Ben Cardin and Sean Maloney.”

Destinie Brooks ’22 said that the master classes seem like “cool” chances to learn directly from political experts in an intimate setting. She also cited the diversity of the speakers as a good opportunity for participants to “learn [about] the different viewpoints, especially [about] how they approach the partisan divide”.

The Yale Politics Initiative is sponsored by the Yale University Department of Political Science, the Block Fund and the Strickler Fund.

Ayumi Sudo | ayumi.sudo@yale.edu