After navigating the political climate of the United Kingdom during the fall 2018 semester, Ginny Laskodi ’19 has returned to the bluff with a newfound understanding of the complexity of British politics. Laskodi was awarded the Hansard Fellowship, a fully-funded scholarship that gives students the opportunity to spend a semester studying politics in London, as well as interning for a Member of Parliament (MP). As a political science major, Laskodi has been interested in British politics since taking her first international relations class with Kerstin Fisk, assistant professor of political science.
“The United Kingdom is particularly interesting to me because of its ever-changing position on the world stage,” said Laskodi. “Especially with Brexit, the landscape of British politics is evolving, and it has been interesting to see and study how the government is trying to deal with such a dividing issue while attempting to retain its power, both among its own citizens as well as within the international community.”
As an intern, Laskodi responded to correspondence from constituents, attended Parliamentary events, and wrote research reports on various government issues. Expecting MPs to have large staffs like members in the House of Representatives or the Senate, Laskodi was surprised to learn that many MPs only have a few staff members working in their London offices. Because of this, much of her work made it directly into the hands of her MP.
“It was incredibly rewarding to see that the work I was doing was actually helping my MP represent his constituents, and not just sitting on a desk collecting dust,” said Laskodi.
Not only was Laskodi able to see the workings of Parliament in London, the program also took students to visit the UK’s devolved legislatures, the National Assembly for Wales and the Scottish Parliament, as well as the European Parliament in Brussels. Students met with members of the devolved legislatures to learn about the unique challenges they face in representing the interests of their constituents on a more local level. They also met with Members of European Parliament who represent the UK to discuss their perspective on Brexit and how they were navigating Brexit negotiations.
“My time with the Hansard Society was incredible,” said Laskodi. “Being in Parliament in the midst of Brexit chaos was unlike any other experience I have had, and to have first-hand interactions with a Member of Parliament taught me more about the daily workings of the government and the dilemmas surrounding Brexit than if I were to just read about it in the news.”
The Hansard Fellowship is awarded by the Global Policy Institute and the Department of Political Science and International Relations every fall to two political science or international relations students who have excelled in their course work and have a passion for British politics.