The CSAD Student Associates program is a high-impact paid internship for outstanding students to contribute to the work of the Center for the Study of American Democracy.

Associates interact with distinguished speakers and learn and practice professional skills useful in political and civic life (from publicity and promotions to event planning, research, and multiple forms of communication). CSAD Associates constitute the student advisory committee for the center, helping our programs reach a broad range of Kenyon students. They also serve as ambassadors to the student community, promoting and encouraging participation in the center’s programs. Students with at least one year of prior experience as a CSAD Associate may apply to be a senior associate, a position that entails greater responsibility, leadership opportunities and higher pay.  

CSAD selects associates in a competitive application and interview process. Thanks to generous funding from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, CSAD Associates have been paid positions since 2021.

Recent Projects

What We Are Reading

CSAD staff and student associates share their favorite books about democracy, politics and political theory.

The Geography of a Political Upset in County Politics

CSAD Student Associate Peter Haywood ‘26 analyzes recent Knox County election results in collaboration with CSAD Senior Associate Joseph Ferrari ‘24.

Analysis of the Knox County Vote: Abortion-related Referenda in 2023

Ohio has been a closely-watched battleground, holding two referenda related to abortion in 2023. CSAD Student Associate Joseph Ferrari '24 examines the results of the referenda votes in Knox County.

Under the Hood of a Knox County Election

CSAD Student Associates Joseph Ferrari '24 and Andrew Nguyen '23 analyzed the November 2022 local elections.

Program Details

CSAD Associates will deepen their knowledge of and experiences with the civic responsibilities and processes of American democracy. They will also learn:

• To organize an event on current affairs, including researching speakers, arranging the venue or technology set-up, devising the format, preparing background briefs and interview questions, publicity, and event management.

• To contribute to a team with a shared purpose and commitment to integrity, excellence and a rigorously non-partisan exploration of political issues.

• To create and edit communications of various kinds that are pithy, engaging and intellectually serious, yet accessible to the general public.

• To evaluate sources for bias and credibility. 

• To engage with outside speakers and authorities with confidence and professional poise.

CSAD’s programs are always evolving and responsive to current issues. Responsibilities include, but are not limited to:

1. Projects for which associates have major responsibilities, such as voting guides or student-led panels on current issues.

2. Weekly meeting with Professor Nancy Powers to review progress on projects and contribute as a student advisory panel on CSAD planning.

3. Participation in CSAD events, including background research, introducing speakers, assisting with Q&As, hospitality for guest speakers and publicity and promotion of the events among peers and in classes.

4. Workshops to learn new skills.

Associates will be paid based on hours worked, including a required weekly meeting, CSAD events where the associate has a role or responsibilities (associates are not paid merely for sitting in an audience), training workshops, hospitality for guest speakers, and a variety of special projects. Associates will have some flexibility in taking on projects that will require varying amounts of time in the range of 3-10 hours in a week. 

CSAD accomplishes its work with a staff of three: Professor Of Political Science Joseph Klesner, director of CSAD; Assistant Professor of Political Science Nancy Powers, associate director of CSAD; and Christy Keffer, administrative assistant. CSAD also currently has a postdoctoral fellow, Keith Harris.

Professor Nancy Powers oversees the CSAD Associates Program, but associates may be called upon to assist any CSAD staff member. 

We seek a team of many political viewpoints, life experiences and campus affiliations to serve as CSAD’s student advisors and ambassadors and to help CSAD carry out its mission. Students with sophomore standing or higher, of any major, are welcome and encouraged to apply. Past applicants (whether accepted or not) are encouraged to apply.

Well-qualified applicants will have a 3.5 cumulative GPA or higher, excellent communication and research skills, curiosity, an open mind, an energetic work ethic, a demonstrated interest in public affairs (broadly defined), and a strong commitment to liberal democratic principles (i.e., free speech, civil and political rights, fair and free elections, rule of law).

We also seek associates who have the highest standards of personal responsibility and integrity and who enjoy working on a team. Associates should be realistic about their academic course load, employment, and extracurricular activities. Work hours vary during the semester. Associates have some flexibility in accepting assignments based on their interests and available time, but applicants should be available to work at least 5 hours weekly.

CSAD is a nonprofit organization established for rigorous analysis of democracy in theory and practice. We seek associates with open minds, who want to deepen their understanding of the political world. Associates must put aside partisan or ideological commitments while engaged in any CSAD project and must avoid even the appearance of promoting their personal political goals while doing CSAD projects.

Students must apply through the Handshake system. The 2023 deadline is August 21. CSAD’s director, associate director and administrative assistant will review applications upon submission, contact your references as needed, and then select semi-finalists for interviews. We hope to complete the hiring process before the end of August. 

Nancy Powers

Assoc Dir of the Center for the Study of American Democracy
Phone Number
Email Address
Oden Hall 313