Guest Speakers Enhance Student Learning

Each year, the Rockefeller Center hosts a robust agenda of public programs to offer an even closer look at public policy and policymaking through the lens of public officials, distinguished scholars, political figures, journalists, and other civically engaged leaders and activists.

These special events inform, educate, and enrich the discourse amongst faculty, staff, and students from across campus, as well as with members of the broader community.

These invited guests also serve as an important part of the educational experience for students by visiting classes while on campus. During these interactions, they expose students to real-world life experiences, sharing insights and perspectives from their particular field.

During the 2016 summer term, former U.S. Senator Judd Gregg visited Professor Charlie Wheelan’s course, Economics of Public Policymaking.

"The remarkable thing about having Senator Gregg come to class is that he was at the center of the Simpson-Bowles deficit reduction commission, which was an effort to wrestle our fiscal situation under control,” said Professor Wheelan. “I had covered America's fiscal situation in class, but Senator Gregg could discuss the political backstory in a way that explained why the effort fell short."

Students get a unique glimpse into the everyday life of the speaker, which helps them understand not only the policy but the policymakers.

Kathryn Edin, a Professor of Sociology and Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, came to campus as the Class of 1930 Fellow and delivered a public lecture on her groundbreaking research on American poverty. She also visited Professor Janice McCabe’s Sociology course, Education and Inequality, speaking to students at length about her own research, interviewing, and writing process.

“My students were just getting ready to start their own interviews for their group research projects,” said Professor McCabe. “Professor Edin shared her own ‘Ten Tips’ about interviewing, and they incorporated much of what she shared with them during her visit in their course projects.”

Students build important connections between what they are learning and the real world when they have the chance to connect with practitioners.

Harry Enten ’11, chief political writer for, spoke to students in Professor Dean Lacy’s Government course, Advanced Political Analysis—a course Enten took while at Dartmouth. Enten talked about polling in the 2016 election and future elections. He also candidly answered questions posed by students about how he got his first job, where he gets his ideas, how he writes.

“The students found great value and inspiration in hearing the wisdom, struggles, and successes of a recent graduate,” said Professor Lacy.

These invited guests to campus bring enriching examples of the real-life implications of theoretical studies directly to the classroom.