Hinckley Institute of Politics

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Orson Spencer Hall, the location of the Hinckley Institute of Politics.

The Hinckley Institute of Politics is a bipartisan institute located on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, Utah. Its purpose is to engage students in practical politics and in governmental, civic and political processes. It aims to promote a better understanding and appreciation of politics. It provides educational programs for students, public school teachers and the general public.


The Hinckley Institute was founded by Robert H. Hinckley in 1965 as a way to engage students in government and “encourage the youngest and best minds to enter into politics.”

The Hinckley Institute aims to offer students an opportunity to engage in politics on all levels of government through political forums, through internships on the local, national and international level and through scholarships. Courses in Political Science and Campaign Management are offered, and there are opportunities to tour Washington DC and meet top government officials during "Capital Encounter."

Political forums[edit]

The Hinckley Institute facilitates political forums during the academic school year that offer students the opportunity to hear from leading experts from their community, around the country and around the world, on topics ranging from local and municipal government and elections; issues pertaining to resource management, environmental sustainment; and housing, employment and education policies; to national and international issues such as human rights, health care, constitutional law, the rights of women and minorities; the effects of the media, international relations and policies pertaining to the Middle East, Europe, South America and Asia; and the effects that U.S. national policy has on international events, terrorism and the economy.[1]

The Hinckley Institute has hosted such notable guests as:[2]


The Hinckley Institute has provided University of Utah students local internship opportunities with the Utah State Legislature and governmental organizations since 1966. The Hinckley Institute currently sends approximately 90 students every year to work for local campaigns, non-profits, local government offices and state legislators.


Hinckley interns have served as campaign managers, scheduling coordinators, and volunteer supervisors for races in Utah and have worked in local offices for U.S. Senators and Congressmen, the mayor’s office, Lt. Governor’s office, Attorney General’s office and the Chamber of Commerce. They have also served in a number of non-profit organizations such as the American Cancer Society, Planned Parenthood and the Disability Law Center. Through internship experiences, Hinckley interns gain experience, participate in the political process and learn how local politics affects citizens’ lives.[3]

Washington, D.C.[edit]

The Hinckley Institute of Politics has sent interns to Washington, D.C. since 1973. Approximately 90 students are sent each year to work for members of the Utah delegation on Capitol Hill, the U.S. Supreme Court, and think tanks that affect American national policy. Several offices that have hosted Hinckley interns include the Department of Health and Human Services, the Democratic National Committee, the Republican National Committee, the House Committee on International Relations, and the White House. Students in the city shadow legislators, congressmen and senators as well as learn the methods of lobbying, media coverage, and communication within the U.S. national government while sharpening their skills and interests in relation to government and learning the importance of civic engagement.[4]

In 2008 the Hinckley Institute of Politics teamed up with the Li Ka-shing Foundation[5] in Hong Kong, China to send five students from the University of Utah and seven students from Shantou University in Shantou, China to work as student journalists during the 2008 presidential election. The students were led by Frank Folwell, former photography editor of USA Today and his wife Sherry Riccardi. The students attended both the Democratic and Republican Conventions. From there they traveled to Washington, D.C. where they established their headquarters in the offices of Policy Impact,[6] a lobbying and public relations organization under the leadership of William Nixon( a Fellow of the Hinckley Institute of Politics).


The international internship program is the newest internship program the Hinckley Institute has to offer, piloted in 2001. The Hinckley sends about 80 students to countries including India, Australia, Peru, Ethiopia, China and Scotland and has become an extremely successful part of the University of Utah’s “Internationalization Initiative.”[7] Internships range from working with the Scottish or Australian parliament to doing humanitarian work in South America and Africa, to teaching women in children in India about AIDS prevention. International interns experience the world though a different cultural lens while serving those in need and return to the United States with an increasing awareness of global issues.[8]


The Hinckley Institute offers several scholarships to University of Utah students who have exhibited outstanding academic performance, civic engagement and service to their local community.[9]


As part of the Hinckley Institute’s mission to engage students in practical politics, the Hinckley Institute offers several courses on campaign finance, the U.S. Presidency and money’s influence in government. Students may receive credit for attending political forums and increasing their awareness of current events, local, national and international.

Capital Encounter[edit]

University of Utah students are provided with the unique opportunity of visiting Washington D.C. with one of the University of Utah’s esteemed political science professors. Students experience DC and the politics that surround it by visiting monuments and memorials; meeting with members of the Utah delegation, U.S Supreme Court Justices, top government officials; and visiting the headquarters of the CIA. In a week, students are schooled in the functions and inter-workings of the Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches of government, as well as given the opportunity to meet with members of the President’s cabinet and discuss current events with top government officials.[10]


External links[edit]

Coordinates: 40°45′48″N 111°50′40″W / 40.76333°N 111.84444°W / 40.76333; -111.84444