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Partnerships, Initiatives, & Programs

AU Sine Institute Announces 2022 Class of Fellows

In September 2018, American University established the Sine Institute of Policy & Politics as an incubator for policy innovation and a convener of the best minds in the public, private, academic, and nonprofit sectors, as well as journalism. Bringing together experts and top scholars with students to address the nation’s most pressing challenges with nonpartisan policy solutions, the inaugural class included Abdul El-Sayed, former executive director of the Detroit Health Department and former candidate for governor of Michigan; Bill Haslam, former governor of Tennessee; William Kristol, political analyst and founder of The Weekly Standard; Ruth Marcus, political commentator and columnist for The Washington Post; and Karen Zacarías, playwright and founder of Young Playwrights’ Theater and Latinx Theater Commons. The 2022 Sine Institute Fellows include the following:

  • Julián Castro, Former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Barbara Comstock, Republican, elected to two terms in Congress representing Virginia's 10th congressional district
  • Richard Fontaine, CEO of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS)
  • Michele Norris, Founding Director, The Race Card Project; Columnist, The Washington Post; Former Host, NPR's "All Things Considered"
  • Dr. Mustafa Santiago Ali, Vice President of Environmental Justice, Climate, and Community Revitalization at National Wildlife Federation
  • Shannon Watts, Founder, Moms Demand Action

The Lincoln Scholars Program

SPA rolled out a new Lincoln Scholars program for students who want to explore the great questions of moral and political life in small seminar classes. The 15-credit Certificate in Political Thought is designed to promote diverse intellectual and political exchanges among conservative, moderate, and liberal students-- as well as those still searching for an ideological home. Students are admitted to the program through a competitive admissions process and receive a $1,000 fellowship for each year of the program they complete.

Event Series for Federal Executives

The 2019 partnership between SPA’s Key Executive Program and Guidehouse-- a leading provider of management, technology, and risk consulting services to the public and commercial markets-- spotlighted public administration challenges faced by federal government executives. SPA and Guidehouse cohosted four events focused on recruiting national security experts, data collection and accuracy, and behavioral science. Together, SPA and Guidehouse launched a podcast, “Mission Is Possible,” which features SPA Executive-in-Residence Sasha Cohen O’Connell as she interviews experts about these issues.

Insight into Women's Political Perspectives

SPA’s Women & Politics Institute commissioned Benenson Strategy Group to conduct a survey in November 2018 that highlighted the views of female voters following the midterm elections. The results of the online survey of 1,200 voters (about 800 of whom were women) confirmed that many women voters strongly dislike President Trump and were troubled by his tone and use of offensive language; however, that aversion wasn’t the only factor driving their votes last fall. When asked what mattered most to them when voting for Congress, 65% of women said that the merits of the individual candidate outweighed his or her likelihood to be a check on Trump. 

Gender on the Ballot

As the conversation and culture around running for office in the United States continue to evolve, SPA’s Women & Politics Institute and the Barbara Lee Family Foundation (BLFF) launched a new nonpartisan project to examine and contextualize gender dynamics in the 2020 elections. The Gender on the Ballot initiative analyzes presidential, gubernatorial, and congressional races, applying research and expertise from both organizations. The goal is to go beyond the headlines and dive deep into the complicated role gender plays in politics, including a look at how gender is rewarded, punished, and policed. 

Responding to the Opiod Crisis

SPA partnered with the Washington College of Law in February 2019 to bring together leading experts from public policy, health, and law enforcement to discuss new ways to address the opioid crisis. At the conference, panels covered the range of approaches, from prevention, to treatment, to punishment. There was a call for practitioners to work together to combat the problem, a central concern of law enforcement and public health. 

Program on Legislative Negotiation

SPA’s Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, in partnership with the Washington College of Law, launched the Program on Legislative Negotiation (PLN), which addresses the gridlock in Congress and state legislatures, to improve the legislative response to today’s challenges and improve public trust in these institutions. This innovative new program is supported by a $1 million grant from The Madison Initiative of The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.


John Gaus Award winners for lifetime achievement in political science and public administration, more than any other university

7,500 plus

SPA media mentions increased by more than 50% in a two-year span


books & chapters published by SPA faculty


published academic journal articles written by SPA faculty