Policy and Politics Institute

Learn how to use your power to help shape the laws and policies that govern you, your community, your state and the nation!

The Policy and Politics Institute is an opportunity for students to learn about American democracy, their constitutional rights, and the powers that shape current laws. Students will engage with each other during class, becoming empowered citizens as they discuss and develop a public policy plan. Working collaboratively, they will consider how movements and organization lead to political change and practice the art of thinking clearly and speaking persuasively.

At a Glance


Dates: June 13 -18 and June 20 – 25

Who Can Apply?: 9th – 12th grade students

Program Length: Sunday – Friday

Program Tuition: $2,500

Day or Overnight Program: Overnight

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*Courses carry no secondary school or college credit. Upon completion of the program, an official Wake Forest University certificate of achievement will be awarded to all Policy and Politics Institute participants.

What You’ll Experience

Topics Covered

  • Basic Ideals of Democracy: Liberty, Equality, Justice, and Diversity
  • Citizenship Rights and the U.S. Constitution
  • Political Parties and Ideologies
  • Political Messaging in the Media
  • Public Policy

Hands-On Experiences:

  • Speak with policy leaders
  • Hear from prominent Wake Forest Alumni working in the fields of law and government
  • Analyze political messaging in the media
  • Discuss and debate hot topics in today’s political arena
  • Develop a public policy plan

*Hands-on experiences are subject to change.

Policy and Politics Institute Costs:

Winston-Salem (Overnight) | $2,500

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A Day in the Life

  • 8:00 – 9:00 am – Morning Meeting and Breakfast
  • 9:00 am – Welcome from Dr. Michael Pisapia and Program Ambassadors
  • 9:30 am – Discussion: Political Ideologies
  • 10:30 am  – Guest Speaker: Federal Judge 
  • 12:00 pm – Lunch
  • 1:00 pm – Discussion: Democracy and the Electoral College 
  • 2:00 pm – Research – Policy Project 
  • 3:30 pm – Career Panel: Working in Politics
  • 5:00 pm – Debrief for Next Day
  • 5:30 pm – Dinner
  • 6:30 pm – Evening Activities
  • 7:30 pm – Free Time
  • 9:00 pm – Prepare for Bed
  • 10:00 pm – Lights Out

*The “A Day in the Life” sample schedule is subject to change. 

Meet Your Academic Leader

Dr. Michael Callaghan Pisapia

Academic Leader, Policy and Politics Institute

Michael Callaghan Pisapia graduated from Amherst College with a B.A. in Political and Social Thought and the University of Wisconsin, Madison with a Ph.D. in political science. As an Assistant professor at Wake Forest University, Michael taught courses on American democracy and political philosophy. He is a recipient of the American Political Science Association’s William Anderson Award and the Carrie Chapman Catt Prize for scholarship on women and politics. He serves as the Secretary of the North Carolina Political Science Association and currently teaches social studies. Michael loves teaching, playing music, community engagement, and above all, good faith conversations across the political aisle. He lives in Winston-Salem with his wife Page and their five children, Sophia (14), Darian (12), Amalia (10), Elliot (6), and Crozer (3).