This thematic research seminar will explore the history and current practices of Congress—the first branch under the Constitution—and its role in making public policy. The course is designed to provide students with an understanding of how the congressional system was designed and how it currently operates, combining academic and practical experience. It will be beneficial for students serving in Congressional internships and those considering Congressional staff positions after graduation. This seminar will take advantage of our Washington location by featuring guest speakers and seeking connections to current policy and political debate. In addition to studying the historical development of the Congress from its design in the Constitution to its present operations, we will examine how Congress and its Members relate to the other branches of government, the press, and the public. Topics to be examined include the historical origins of the congressional system, the rules and organization of Capitol Hill, the origins of partisanship, the House and Senate rules, and the history of the Speakership. The class will also examine a number of case studies in congressional legislating. Seminar requirements in addition to the internship include preparation and in-class participation, a substantial research brief and several applied writing assignments related to a policy that currently is or should be before Congress. The instructor is John Lawrence, who holds a Ph.D. in American History from the University of California (Berkeley) and worked in Congress for nearly four decades, the last 8 as Chief of Staff to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.