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Kerwin Hall - Summer

University announces new institute focused on creating bipartisan policy solutions

The Sine Institute of Policy and Politics will officially launch Tuesday with Newseum event

American University will be home to the new bipartisan Sine Institute of Policy and Politics, University President Sylvia Burwell announced today on the MSNBC program “Morning Joe.”

“We’re excited to get it started,” Burwell said on the morning talk show. “What we’re hopeful for is that our students, our scholars and practitioners — people who are experts across media, government and the private sector — can come together and shape policy as well as the leaders of tomorrow.”

The institute will be a “laboratory” for university collaboration and an “incubator” for policy solutions created by public, private and nonprofit sector leaders, according to a university press release. Additionally, the institute will bring together experts and scholars with students to research the nation’s challenges and create bipartisan policy solutions, the release said. 

“We aim to raise the quality and impact of the study and practice of policy and politics, as we bring together professionals at the top of their fields, scholars, and students,” Burwell wrote in a statement. “Our focus on policy will catalyze conversations on the substance, as well as the politics.”

The institute is funded by a $10 million donation from AU alumnus Jeff Sine, an entrepreneur, and his wife Samira Sine, a long-time journalist.

“Through this gift we wanted to empower American University to make an immediate and lasting impact at the intersection of politics and policy, increasing AU’s national and international visibility,” Jeff and Samira Sine said in a statement.

Burwell will officially launch the institute at a special event with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) at the Newseum on Tuesday.

There are currently six members that sit on the institute’s advisory board, including former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick and former officials in the Bush and Obama administrations. Anita McBride, an executive-in-residence in the School of Public Affairs and former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush, rounds out the board.

Each spring, the institute will host six fellows from around the world that bring expertise of government service, politics, journalism, the nonprofit sector and business. Fellowship applications are now being accepted while a search is underway for the executive director who will lead the fellowship.

The institute's home will be the School of Public Affairs but will feature collaboration with other schools within AU.

“The Sine Institute will drive powerful conversations by drawing from expertise from across campus and around the world,” said SPA dean Vicky Wilkins in a statement.

On “Morning Joe,” Burwell said that the current polarized political climate is a reason why the institute is “so important.”

“[It’s about] bringing together people from different points of view as well as from different areas so that we can ... create the right dialogue, create a less partisan situation that is grounded in fact and substance,” Burwell said. “That’s what the Sine Institute is about and that’s why we’re excited to launch it today.”

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