NSPC Students Meet with Pentagon and NSC Officials

By Molly Hannon

Every year, Batten’s National Security Policy Center (NSPC) provides MPP students with a unique opportunity to shake hands with national security and defense officials. This year, NSPC director Philip Potter took students to visit the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the National Security Council (NSC) in Washington D.C.

Keeping in line with NSPC’s mission to train the next generation of national security leaders, the trip allowed students to directly engage with national security and defense officials, as well as enhance their understanding of real-world national security problems.

“At the NSPC we believe site visits provide unique experiences that may otherwise not exist within the four walls of a classroom,” said Potter. “Through face-to-face interactions with seasoned national security professionals, students gain a broader understanding of complex national security policy issues.”

In the past, site visits have included trips to the Pentagon, where students had the opportunity to speak with officials from the Department of Defense, the greater intelligence community, the RAND Corporation, and Obama administration officials.

This year’s site visit was thoroughly engaging as students met with senior U.S. government officials and discussed issues ranging from cybersecurity to countering violent extremism. Students who took part in the tour were deeply impressed by their interactions with the government officials and the conversations which took place.

“It was truly an honor to speak with the individuals who help to shape the policies surrounding security, and to specifically see how these different policymakers each make policy based on a different perspective,” said Daniel Durgavich (MPP ’20). “These different perspectives help to create a more holistic view – and that really stood out to me.”

As part of the visit, students received career advice from government officials and were urged to get involved in public service.

“It was fascinating to learn more about today’s national security issues from individuals currently working in the field,” said Molly Magoffin (MPP ’20), “I felt privileged to have time to ask these incredibly important and presumably busy people questions both about their jobs and about current affairs. I learned a lot about what a career in national security would entail. I look forward to learning even more through future site visits with the National Security Policy Center.”

The NSPC seeks to develop relationships between the U.S. government and academics, and one way to achieve this goal is through site visits. “We want our students to engage directly with policymakers,” said Potter. “National security is serious business, and we are preparing our students for the challenges that lie ahead.”