Henry Clay Center for Statemenship Student Congress

Website: Henry Clay Center for Statesmenship


The College Student Congress is a two-week summer program for undergraduates interested in public policy, politics, diplomacy and modern leadership. The summer program in public policy selects fifty-one rising college seniors, representing each state and the District of Columbia, to learn about the dynamics of the policy process through an experiential and immersive curriculum. Students engage with lawmakers, academics, government relations experts, policy advisors and other leaders to explore the challenges of formulating comprehensive public policy.


Immersive Public Policy Experience


A key component of the summer program is the public policy project, administered in partnership with the University of Kentucky’s Martin School of Public Policy and Administration. Through this project, participants will have the opportunity to research and develop a bipartisan solution for a policy challenge currently facing the nation. Previous topics have included healthcare, the national deficit, national security, immigration, criminal justice reform, net neutrality and others.


First, students self-identify and subdivide as leaning more or less towards conservative or liberal ideology on the four topics. Then, students proceed to create a partisan policy proposal for their given topic. This results in a conservative and liberal proposal for each of the topics. The challenge presented to participants is to negotiate, combine elements of their partisan proposals and present a single, bipartisan policy proposal on their topic.


Throughout this process, students are advised by PhD students and hear from experts in order to explore the depths of their unique topics. Students are challenged to interact with peers who hold different beliefs than they do, to civilly and openly engage in a dialogue about their differences, to learn to listen to one another and, ultimately, to come together in the spirit of cooperation in order to achieve progress for the common good. All the while, students develop and hone their leadership, negotiation, communication, and interpersonal skills.


Washington, D.C. Exposure


Additionally, students have the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. to see the real public policy process in action. Students meet with politicians, visit government agencies, engage in conversations with private sector players, and explore possible bridges between their academic and professional lives. Previous events in D.C. have included:


  • Tour of the U.S. Capitol and U.S. Supreme Court
  • Visits to Microsoft, the U.S. Department of State, Hall of States, Congressional Budget Office and other organizations
  • Policy presentations to experts at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Private meetings with the Supreme Court Clerk and other Congressional leaders
  • Round-tables with lobbyists, legislators, and Capitol Hill staffers
  • The Henry Clay Center’s Bourbon Barrel of Compromise Reception and Clay Policy Summit
  • And more!

The College Student Congress accepts fifty-one exceptional rising college seniors through a competitive application and selection process. 

Student Type
  • junior
Citizen Type
  • US Citizen
  • Permanent Resident

In addition to a completed application, applicants to the College Student Congress are required to submit:

  • Résumé
  • Copy of most recent transcript (may be unofficial)
  • Personal statement expressing interest in attendance (no more than 400 words)

Apply at https://henryclaycenter.org/college-student-congress/ 

Contact Information

Henry Clay Center for Statesmenship

176 North Mill St.

Lexington, KT 40507

tel: 859-231-0315 

email: mindy@henryclaycs.org