The Les Aspin Center for Government provides academic and internship programming focused on the public policy making process. With offerings in Washington, D.C. and Milwaukee, the Les Aspin Center integrates theoretical and experiential approaches to generating knowledge and provides its students, faculty, and staff with the opportunity to contribute to ethical, substantive, and innovative policy making work – locally, domestically, and internationally.
Beginning in 1988, the founder and director of the Les Aspin Center, Rev. Timothy O'Brien, had the vision to transform the educational experience a student receives. He believes in order to best understand government and politics students need firsthand experience working as part of the policy making process, while combining that experience with rigorous academics to provide a context for the students' work.
Over the past 30 years, more than 2,500 Les Aspin Center students have interned at nearly 100 congressional offices, the State Department, the Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Secret Service, the White House, the Department of Defense, the Federal Communications Commission, nonprofit organizations, private firms, and offices for Wisconsin-based corporations.
At any given time, there are approximately 50 Les Aspin Center alumni working as professional staff members in Congress. Alumni also have tremendous opportunities to work at other levels of government throughout the country and world.
In 2005, named after former Congressman Gerald D. Kleczka, the Kleczka Internship Program was established on Marquette's campus in Milwaukee. The Kleczka Internship Program places students in city, county, and state legislative offices. Like the successful academic model of the Les Aspin Center, the Kleczka internship combines hands-on internship experiences with classroom instruction to maximize students' learning opportunities at a local level.
From 1995 to 2012, the Les Aspin Center for Government trained and educated more than 400 leaders from Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Mali, and Nigeria, including members of Parliament, cabinet officials, and nongovernmental organization executives. During this time, the Les Aspin Center also worked with African graduates to host Marquette students enrolled in study abroad programs in Nairobi, Kenya, and Accra, Ghana.