GMU has placed an emphasis on civic engagement in both its undergraduate and graduate programs and research initiatives.
Student programs include: Civic Learning and Community Engagement, Student Government, Roosevelt Institute, Democracy Squad at GMU, and Mason Leads.
Internships programs are provided for: Schar School undergraduate and graduate students, Global Political Fellows and Political Communication students.
Kristen Wright is the Director of Civic Engagement within the Office of Undergraduate Education.
George Mason University (Mason, GMU, or George Mason) is a public research university in Fairfax County near Fairfax City in Virginia. In 1956, the Commonwealth of Virginia authorized the establishment of a Northern Virginia branch of the University of Virginia and the institution that is now named George Mason University opened in September 1957. It became an independent institution in 1972. It has since grown to become the largest four-year public university in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The university is named after the Founding Father George Mason, a Virginia planter and politician who authored the Virginia Declaration of Rights that later influenced the future Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution. Mason operates five campuses in Virginia (Fairfax, Arlington, Prince William, Loudoun, and Front Royal), as well as a sixth campus in South Korea.
The university is classified among “R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity”. It is particularly well known in the fields of economics. Two Mason economics professors have won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics: James M. Buchanan in 1986 and Vernon L. Smith in 2002.
University-wide Community Engagement
Community Engagement is about partnership between George Mason University and its surrounding communities. These mutually beneficial partnerships impact our teaching and learning, our scholarship, and our outreach efforts that strive to improve the human condition and support the public good at home and abroad.
Our mission is to be an exemplary “engaged university” by “preparing our students to thrive in a global context by infusing global awareness, citizenship values, and learning opportunities across all fields, and we will partner with other organizations in solving global problems where our impact will be highest.”
Mason is committed to “engagement with the world”. It is our hope that students and faculty become engaged citizens “ethically orientated and committed to democratic ideals; respectful of individual differences, rights, and liberties; knowledgeable of important issues affecting the world; focused on the well-being of others; and committed to building a just society”.
Civic Learning and Community Engagement
Center for Culture, Equity, and Empowerment
Housing and Residence Life
Leadership Education and Development
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Resources
Living Learning Communities
Off-Campus Student Services
Office of Student Support
Women and Gender Studies Center
The Student Government (SG) office is in the Student Involvement section of the HUB on the Fairfax Campus. SG divisions include the Executive Branch, the Student Senate (Legislative) Branch, and the Elections and Disputes Commission. The Executive Branch includes Executive Boards such as the Parking Appeals Board, Student Funding Board, and the Student Dining Board.
Students are encouraged to attend meetings and share their views:
- The Executive Branch meets Thursdays at 7 p.m. For locations and updates, check the calendar.
- The Student Senate meets Thursday at 4:30 p.m. Find meeting locations in the calendar.
- The Student Funding Board meets Tuesdays at 3 p.m. in the Student Involvement office.
For more information, call 703-993-2909.
Roosevelt @ Mason seeks to empower students with the resources and environment to become effectively involved in the policy process at the campus, local, state, and national levels. The Roosevelt Institute engages in policy research, analysis, and writing to increase youth voices at all levels of the policy process. Roosevelt @ Mason promotes communication and coordination with community members, stakeholders, and policymakers in order to create real policy-oriented solutions. The ultimate goal of the organization is to facilitate progressive policy innovation in the local political process.”
Roosevelt @ Mason is George Mason University’s largest and most active nonpartisan student policy organization.
Democracy Squad at GMU
Democracy Squad is a virtual organizing space for George Mason University students, staff, faculty, and alumni, to promote positive civic engagement on campus. Participants commit to taking actions that reinforce democratic values and institutions in and around Mason nation.
We reinforce democracy by taking action to alleviate sources of democratic weakness. Democracy Squad does this in three main areas: address inequality (income, race healthcare, etc.), promote political representation (strengthen parties, increase voting rights, support reform efforts to expand the citizen-representative tie, etc.), and improve the information environment (promote events that share scientific and high quality information, etc.).
Organized by Professor Jennifer Victor, Democracy Squad participants commit to building a positive campus environment that promotes democracy. Democracy Squad is administered through Magnify, a social networking tool designed to help people solve collective action problems.
This is a site where you’ll discover a wide range of leadership programs and initiatives for members of our campus community. Leadership is a common thread that connects the entire Mason community. Our commitment is to engage our students, faculty, staff and alumni in creating a socially conscious, civically engaged, and global campus community through leadership at all levels of our institution. Every day on Mason’s distributed campuses around the world you’ll encounter hundreds of individuals engaged in leadership through formal and informal positions and experiences.
MasonLeads Mission Statement
To inspire the development, emergence, and recognition of leadership throughout the Mason community by:
- Raising campus-wide awareness of leadership opportunities for our students, faculty, staff, and community
- Encouraging student, faculty and staff participation in leadership development
- Forming a cross-disciplinary community of leadership scholars at Mason
- Focusing on the diverse talents and strengths of all involved in leadership
- Publicizing and celebrating acts of leadership throughout the Mason community
- Building a culture at Mason that values leadership at all levels of the institution
George Mason’s MasonLeads formulated a set of leadership assumptions, core values, and competencies for faculty, staff, students, and alumni to consider in their own exploration and practice of leadership. For example, we believe you do not need to have a formal title to engage in a leadership process or to assume leadership responsibilities. Through self-reflection and reflective practice, we are confident that members of our campus community will make a difference through their leadership. We embrace a set of core leadership values and common competencies founded on the ideas that leadership is learned and that leadership development is a lifelong journey. These leadership assumptions, core values, and competencies are designed to be considered and used as an integrated whole.
Schar School Undergraduates
Undergraduate Internship Program
The Schar School of Policy and Government Internship Program provides an opportunity for students to gain professional experience and skills that will complement their academic program and enhance their career opportunities. The program also is intended to support area organizations by allowing employers to work with graduate students in an effort to increase recruiting success.
The internship program is open to all degree seeking Schar School Master’s students who have completed a minimum of 9 credits of required coursework with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. Students in the MPP and ODKM programs who do not have at least two years of relevant professional experience are required to complete a three-credit internship.
The Schar School Career Services does not place students in internships but is available to assist students with the search process. Additionally, the Schar School CareersNow contains information on available internships.
- Graduate Internship Program Packet (Spring 2021)
- Graduate Internship Program Packet (Fall 2020)
- International Internship Addendum Packet
- Requesting a waiver of the internship requirement
- PUAD 792 – Advanced Seminar in Applied Public Administration Research Waiver Packet
- Undergraduate Internship Program
Global Political Fellow
The internship is a key component of the Global Politics Fellows program. The coursework is conveniently scheduled to allow students more time for a substantive internship. Students will intern three days a week, for twenty to twenty-five hours a week. This schedule increases the number of internships available to our Fellows and usually allows them to take on more responsibility. This makes Global Politics Fellows more of an asset for their host organization and gives the student enhanced learning opportunities. Internships are also great networking opportunities to learn more about a potential career field and gain contacts one can use when looking for a summer job and for their future job search after graduation.
Students will obtain their own internship with the help and support of the Fellows program and the Career Center. Internship host sites will likely include local and federal government offices, foreign embassies, non-profit organizations, non-governmental organizations and think tanks. Internship duties often focus on advocacy, program support, communications, research and community outreach. Most internships will be unpaid, but students are also encouraged to pursue internships that offer a small stipend or a paid internship.
Global Politics Fellows will follow all of the current guidelines and requirements for internship credit set for George Mason University’s GLOA 495 and GOVT 496 courses.
The Communication Department at George Mason University encourages and supports students who wish to complete an internship in a range of communication related positions, while earning academic credit. Internships act as a bridge to the workforce by offering students opportunities to gain valuable work experience, and obtain the tools needed to enter a professional environment.
The internship program pairs career management course work with the internship learning experience. Communication majors and minors spend approximately ten hours each week during the semester working with a sponsored on-campus or off-campus organization. Interns perform communication related supervised work. Positions can be paid or unpaid. The course can be taken a second time for academic credit.
The Washington, D.C. region has a wide range of internship opportunities. Students can work with a large corporation, small company or association. Communication internship related fields include: journalism, social media, marketing, public relations, sports, health, science, government, politics, public policy, education, research, human resources, administration, radio and television production.
Past and present internships include: national and local radio and television broadcast facilities, major and local newspapers, magazines, public relations companies, major sports teams, public school systems, George Mason University, industry corporate headquarters, non-profit organizations, national associations, foundations, health organizations, political campaigns, the U.S Congress, military organizations, the White House, and many national and local government organizations.. Mason students are highly regarded by area employers.
Schar School of Policy & Government
Address:Founders Hall, Fifth Floor
3351 Fairfax Drive, MS 3B1
Arlington, VA 22201
Undergraduate Student Services:
Robinson Hall A201, MS 3F4
4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government prepares undergraduate and graduate students to be leaders and managers who solve problems and advance the public good in all sectors and levels of government—in the United States and throughout the world.
Our graduates apply the knowledge and skills gained in our classrooms at some of the most prestigious companies, consulting firms, nonprofits, multinational organizations, and government agencies in Washington, DC, and beyond. Decision-makers and the public use our faculty’s research to both understand and develop policy in a variety of areas. In addition, we are committed to public service in our professions and in regional, national, and global communities.
Located where policy happens—just 3 miles from the Pentagon, 4 miles from The White House, and 6 miles from the U.S. Capitol Building—students are connected to jobs, internships, networking, and experiences that can only be found in the Washington, D.C., area.
It’s policy in action. Learning from professors with real-world experience, students gain the applicable skills and the practical knowledge to lead government agencies and nonprofit organizations, develop public policies and programs, create innovate consulting solutions, or provide expert policy analysis. Schar School alumni apply what they learned in the classroom to pursue fulfilling and meaningful careers. Graduates are doing consequential work at leading employers including the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the World Bank, the United Nations, the National Endowment for Democracy, Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, and many others.
Social Action & Integrative Learning (SAIL)
Social Action & Integrative Learning (SAIL), housed within the School of Integrative Studies, is an evolving community of Mason students, faculty, administrators, alumni, and community partners who are active and passionate collaborators in effecting positive social change. SAIL fosters integrative, innovative, and experiential learning opportunities on campus, regionally, and globally that educate and activate towards a more equitable, just, nonviolent, and sustainable world.
The Mason Impact offers a bold and challenging approach to academics, preparing you to tackle global questions and issues. You’ll look at your studies with a different perspective. There are four areas of focus:
- Research and Creative Activities: You aren’t content to just hit the books; you want to create new knowledge through research, ingenuity, and imagination.
- Community Engagement and Civic Learning: You’re passionate about working to generate social change, whether in a small community, the nation, or the world.
- Entrepreneurship: You see a problem as an opportunity to discover a solution, start a business, or create a prototype.
- Global Activities: Your vision isn’t limited to what you see; you’re ready to leap beyond borders, to expand your knowledge, to become a true citizen of the world.
By completing a Mason Impact Project, you will be tackling a global question and may be eligible to receive funding to do so. We’ll treat you like a professional researcher, because with our help, you’ll be one. If your research topic qualifies, you might get funding for your project. And when you graduate, you’ll get a special notation on your transcript, telling the world about your accomplishments.
Minor in Political Communication
The interdisciplinary minor in political communication is offered jointly by the Schar School of Policy and Government and the Department of Communication. This minor is available to all Mason undergraduate students with the exception of communication majors pursuing a concentration in political communication.
Political communication explores the interaction among members of the public, the media, advocacy groups, and politicians in a democratic society. This minor uses a diverse approach to questions of how mass and interpersonal communication influence democratic functioning, including (1) how political actors use strategic messaging to persuade and mobilize the public, (2) how citizens make sense of these messages and their impact on engagement, deliberation, efficacy, knowledge, and participation, and (3) the role of the mass media in facilitating or hindering this relationship. Political communication includes explicitly political activities like voting and political campaigns. It also encompasses any issue of public debate or deliberation, including culture and social movements.
Research Centers & Initiatives
Center for Business Civic Engagement
The mission of the Center for Business Civic Engagement is to study the impact of the application of business theory and principles to government to determine if government can be both more effective and efficient for its stakeholders.
Government is a result of taxpayers voluntarily giving government money earned. Government has a responsibility, especially in this “tech age,” to be transparent so every citizen can see where every dollar is spent and what results have been achieved with the investment of he or her tax dollars. Transparent government results in both more effective and efficient government.
Government plays a significance force in the lives of everyday people. With this use of power, there comes an accountability requirement. Every elected official is accountable to constituents, not just on Election Day, but everyday of the year. Government must work, and it must work in an efficient way.
Government officials must be exceptional stewards of resources, as resources come from hard-working individuals, entrepreneurs, and corporations. Stewardship should not be diminished because of politics.
Constituents expect to see a return on their investment, a quantitative or qualitative way to justify the commitment of resources, money, labor and time. Government programs should have metrics to measure their effectiveness and their efficiency.
How can business engagement or business models maintain a civility among its diverse and inclusive populations? Can competitive business models help government reduce its level of hyper-partisanship?
Effective Business Advocacy
What tools can make business advocacy more effective in assuring elected officials on the economic impact of laws and regulations? How can businesses ensure their perspective is heard and part of the discussion on the tax and regulatory culture? What are the unintended consequences for the Free Enterprise system when business views are neither communicated or heard?
The Center for Leadership and Community Engagement
The Center for Leadership and Community Engagement facilitates mutually beneficial partnerships between the Mason community and community organizations. We support these evolving relationships to ensure they contribute to both community development goals and student learning objectives.
- Support for faculty integrating community based learning pedagogy into their courses
- Point of contact for community organizations seeking mutually beneficial partnership with George Mason University faculty and students
- Opportunities for students to earn course credit through their leadership and engagement in the local community
- Alternative Break service-learning trips
- Scholarship on community based learning pedagogy, student leadership development and the intersection of leadership, civic engagement and student learning
- Co-sponsorship of campus events that promote community engagement and leadership development opportunities for students
- Minor in Leadership Studies
- Minor in Nonprofit Studies
Almanac of Virginia Politics
The Virginia Almanac project at George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government provides an informative record of legislative sources, key decision-makers, and the legislative process. The new online edition outlines the basic framework of Virginia politics by providing the raw data for analyzing the record of members of the General Assembly. As a historical tool the Almanac is useful to lobbyists, libraries, civic activists, and researchers. This easily accessible source is an indispensable tool for those who want to know the who, what, when, and how of Virginia politics.