Senator Richard Lugar with Beth Shaw.

US program offers the chance of a lifetime

23 July 2013

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Peter Drysdale is Emeritus Professor of Economics and the Head of the East Asian Bureau of Economic Research and East Asia Forum at Crawford School of Public Policy. He is widely recognised as the leading intellectual architect of APEC.

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Outstanding students can have the chance of a lifetime to connect with key US policymakers, delve into the political fray over global foreign policy issues, and engage with the public policy environment in Washington DC through a program now taking applications.

The 2013-14 American Australian Association-Australian National University Congressional Research Fellowship Program (CRFP), which places high-achieving honours and postgraduate students from Australia’s Group of Eight (Go8) universities in the offices of US Senators who serve on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. CRFP Fellows will also be associated with relevant and established think tanks.

Crawford School’s Professor Peter Drysdale, who helped get the fellowship established, said the program represents a long-term investment in the relationship between the United States and Australia.

“The knowledge and associations built in Washington contribute through the careers of its alumni to the ongoing strength of ties between the two countries,” he said.

Former student Beth Shaw, who was placed with US Senator Richard Lugar from Indiana as part of the 2011-12 program, said, “The [program] not only provides an opportunity to learn about US politics and the functions of a political office, it also provides the opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the public policy environment in Washington, DC, with its innumerable think-tanks, interest groups and world-class universities.”

The fellowships run for three months beginning in January 2014. The American Australian Association (AAA) and The Australian National University (ANU) will cover the cost of a return trip airfare from Australia to Washington DC, accommodation in Washington DC, and US J-1 visa application costs.

Crawford School student Josh Machin completed his fellowship with US Senator Robert Casey from Pennsylvania as part of the 2012-13 program.

“As well as expanding my learning on international issues, the program gave me a valuable experience in learning how the US political system works,” he said.

“The Obama Administration was settling into a new term and critical issues such as gun control, fiscal priorities and immigration reform were hot topics during that time: all matters where the US perspective and approach differs from that taken by Australia.”

Jonathan Cheng, who was placed with the same Senator in 2011-12, said that the program is worthwhile for those wanting to get a better understanding of how policy is developed or politics is practiced in Washington DC.

“Washington is never short of interesting events and seminars for a political junkie or international affairs specialist to attend. People you meet on the street or in cafes are often involved in the DC political scene either on the Hill or with think-tanks,” he said.

Applications for this highly-competitive program close at 5pm on Friday 23 August. The CRFP Application Form, along with a CRFP Information for Applicants document, can be found on the Program website at

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