Program Overview

The 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.

CSAD selects Associates in a competitive application and interview process. Selection as an Associate is an honor, a chance to develop skills and networks. Thanks to generous funding from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, the CSAD Associates is now a paid position. 

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. 

Learning Objectives

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. During 2020-21, we produced twelve live-streamed events. This year, we expect some combination of in-person and virtual events and opportunities to work with two newly-hired post-doctoral fellows (a historian and a political scientist). 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 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&A, hospitality to guest speakers, and publicity and promotion of the events among peers and in classes.
  4. Workshop(s) to learn new skills.

Program Administration

CSAD accomplishes its work with a staff of three: Professor David Rowe, the Director of CSAD; Assistant Professor Nancy Powers, the Associate Director of CSAD; and Ms. Andrea Lechleitner, Administrative Assistant.  Professor Powers oversees the Associates Program, but associates may be called upon to assist any member of CSAD’s staff. 


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).

As well, we 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 extra-curricular activities and be willing and able to dedicate at least 3-5 hours every week to Associate responsibilities. Some Associates, some weeks, may work more hours than that.

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.

Application and Selection Process

The 2021-22 CSAD Associates Application form includes biographical questions, the names of two references, and space for a 300-word essay on your motivation for becoming an Associate. The essay does double-duty as a sample of your writing skills.  The application collects the information we need that might usually be on a resume.
The deadline is August 30, 4:30 pm (Eastern Time). You must apply through the Handshake system.
CSAD’s Director, Associate Director, and Administrative Assistant will review applications upon submission, check with references as needed, and then select semi-finalists whom they will interview (for about 15 minutes, via Google Meet). We expect to conclude the process by September 8. 


Contact Professor Powers with questions about the program or the application