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Politics, Policy, and Law (PPL) Scholars


  • SPA: PPL Scholars
    (202) 885-6218

    Chris Edelson

Mailing Address

Director's Welcome

Chris Edelson
Chris Edelson
Director, PPL Scholars Program

The Politics, Policy and Law (PPL) Scholars Program is a rigorous three-year BA program in the School of Public Affairs that allows highly motivated students to experience Washington, D.C., as a laboratory for learning inside and outside of the classroom. It is designed to prepare them for successful careers in politics, policy and law. I’m thrilled to serve as the PPL director and am always eager to talk with prospective students interested in the PPL program.

My own background covers each of the areas encompassed by this program. I am a 1996 graduate of Harvard Law School and practiced employment discrimination law for nine years. I also served as state legislative director for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, D.C., before coming to American University in 2009. It is especially exciting for me to have the opportunity to work with highly motivated and talented students and to have the opportunity to share my experiences with them so that they can find their own career paths.

One of the many great things about the PPL Scholars program is the benefit we get from using the city as an educational laboratory. The PPL scholars take full advantage of AU’s fantastic location throughout their three years. During the first year, PPL scholars participate in frequent experiential learning activities, including trips to the Supreme Court; Capitol Hill; government agencies, like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau; advocacy groups like the American Civil Liberties Union; and nonprofit organizations like the Children’s Law Center and Break the Cycle. After their first year, PPL scholars continue to maximize their time in D.C. by completing competitive internships and putting the academic theory they learn into practice.

PPL scholars have other unique opportunities during their three years. For example, each student has the opportunity to work closely with SPA faculty who teach and publish in the areas of politics, policy and law. They also take on rigorous original research projects in their third year, with the goal of producing publishable PPL capstones. Additionally, the scholars reside together in a Living Learning Community during their first year. This community allows them to continue discussing their academic work and D.C. experiences in the dorms, while (just as important) having some downtime with their colleagues.

Students interested in applying to be PPL Scholars can read more about the application process. I am always excited to talk about this wonderful program and appreciate your interest. Please feel free to contact me at ppl@american.edu with any questions.

Chris Edelson
Director, PPL Scholars Program