Why We're Bringing Programming to the Hill
Point of View, Centerpoint, November 2008
In June, the Woodrow Wilson Center launched the Wilson Center on the Hill program, with a generous grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, to bring experts and informative discussion closer to policymakers.
Each year, the Wilson Center promotes scholarship and public dialogue in hundreds of meetings and seminars. We frequently host key speakers from the Senate and House and routinely invite Members and their staff to Wilson Center events.
Why, then, should we take the extra step of holding conferences and meetings on the Hill? We recognize the sheer pace of work and enormous variety of issues that Members and their staff must consider daily. As a Hill veteran with more than 15 years of experience working for the leadership in the House and Senate, congressional committees, and personal offices, I have seen firsthand how hard it is to break away from the Hill to attend conferences downtown.
Now, we have the ability to bring key Wilson Center programs to Capitol Hill. We hold most of these programs over lunch and limit them to about an hour, letting staff use their limited lunch hour to break away from the hectic pace of a congressional office to focus on the broader context of some of the key public policy issues with which they are grappling.
The Hewlett Foundation is particularly interested in examining questions of international trade and sustainable development in the developing world and emerging market countries. We also cover the shifting winds of the global economy and the potential impact of geopolitical developments on U.S. and global growth.
Our intent is to choose topics from the broad expertise and work of the Wilson Center that are on the "radar screens" of Congress. For instance, this summer, we looked at the improved investment climate in Brazil as an important benchmark for its emerging economy. In early September, we convened a panel to discuss the Georgia-Russia conflict, which could yet affect everything from oil prices to cooperation in key parts of the world, having serious implications for growth in developing countries. These are pressing issues to which most Members must respond.
Wilson Center on the Hill is a Wilson Center-wide program with close ties to the Program on Science, Technology, America, and the Global Economy. We invite any thoughts you may have for Hill programs that will help the Wilson Center make the best contribution to the Members and their staff.