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Fall Seminars

The fall seminars are based on leadership and local/state policy, and are designed exclusively for Maryland Fellows participants. Note: All FGSM courses are cross-listed with Honors courses.

Students in the program choose one of the following courses for their fall Maryland Fellows seminar (3 credits):

Civic Leadership and Human Services (FGSM315/HNUH319T)

Tuesday, 5:30p.m. to 8:30pm

Course Description: This course will examine the different forms of civic leadership and public service at the state and local level. Students will learn the various motivators between private and public service, different career paths within state and local government, and how to prepare for their own professional journey. Course topics will include the foundation of state government powers, different forms of leadership, and the role that each individual plays within our state government. Assignments will be highly practice-focused, with students learning how to construct effective constituent correspondence, policy memorandums and engaging in non-partisan, civil policy debates. Expert practitioners from the government or private sectors will also visit class to address topics and participate in seminar discussion.

Instructor Biography:
Emily Shetty Emily Shetty has spent her career in public service and advocacy, starting with serving as a legislative aide to a Member of Congress from Brooklyn, NY. She is currently a member of the Maryland General Assembly, serving in her second term, where she is the Chair of the House Democratic Caucus, the Chair of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Social Services, and the Vice Chair of the Montgomery County Houses Delegation.

Emily has been active in local advocacy and organizing for over ten years. She served as the Vice-chair of the Montgomery County Democratic Party, founded the Advocacy Committee within the Woman’s Democratic Club of Montgomery County, and served on the board of Action Committee for Transit, where she advocated for improvements to pedestrian safety and local transportation options.

A graduate of the Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, Emily is a member of the Maryland Bar Association. She received her undergraduate B.A. in Mathematics and Certificate in Markets and Management from Duke University. She currently resides in Kensington, Maryland, right off of the beautiful trails of Rock Creek Park, with her husband, elementary-age son and rescue pup Zingo.

Political Engagement and Advocacy (FGSM310/HNUH318T)

Monday, 6:00p.m. to 9:00pm, ESJ B0322

Course Description: This course will examine questions and issues related to policy advocacy and political engagement at the local, state and national levels. Students will consider differences between power and influence, including constraints on people who hold power. Course topics will include principles of negotiation, how to advocate for causes, how to participate in the political process, and how to win political office. This non-partisan course will also examine some of the limits of democracy, the role of money in politics, and principles of civil discourse and ethics.

Instructor Biography:
Peter Owen Peter Owen has provided policy and political advice to various government agencies – and advocated on their behalf – for over 25 years. He is currently the Deputy Officer for Legislative Affairs at the Administrative Office of the United States Courts and previously served at Department of Justice. His first job out of college was with the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee.

Peter Owen has also volunteered in local policy advocacy and local politics. His civic roles have included being president of his neighborhood association and chairman of the executive committee of the county-wide Civic Federation. Peter was the campaign manager for the first Latino member of a County Board in Virginia, and has been an officer in a local political party, where he organized numerous elections and spearheaded a shift to ranked-choice voting. In 2012 he was a voting Delegate at a national political convention. He has also served as Chairman of Arlington’s Transportation Commission and its Industrial Development Authority, and as Vice Chairman of its Board of Zoning Appeals. In addition, Peter has served on the board of directors of three non-profit corporations: in the arts, the media and tenant advocacy.

An attorney, Peter holds a Master of Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, where he assisted teaching its “Leadership 101” course. He received his law degree from the College of William & Mary and undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia. Peter grew up inside the beltway and enjoys urban hiking and travel.

Maryland General Assembly Writing Internship Program (ENGL381/HONR368A)

Course Description: As a Fundamental Studies Professional Writing course, English 381 helps students learn to be more cognizant of their writing process and to be more aware of the rhetorical strategies available to them. Moreover, this writing seminar teaches students how to perform legislative research and how to write standard legislative documents, such as constituent letters, oral and written testimony, talking points, news releases, op-eds, legislative summaries, and meeting notes. It thus prepares students to serve in the Maryland General Assembly Internship Program (ENGL388M/HONR368A).

Special Note:

  • Admission to this course is through a separate application process administered by the English Department. Click here for more details
  • Students who participate in the English Department's Maryland General Assembly Writing Internship are full members of  Maryland Fellows with access to professional development workshops, speakers series, personalized student advising, and other student support.

Instructor Biography:
Blake Wilder headshot showing him smiling in a suit and tie, with round glasses

Blake Wilder is a senior lecturer in the department of English, where he has taught twelve different courses since joining the UMD faculty in Fall 2017. Many of these courses are writing courses to prepare students for the workplace (ENGL 101, ENGL 297, ENGL 393, ENGL 394, ENGL 494, ENGL 497), but he is also the lead instructor for English 142 “Literary Maryland.” Combining these perspectives, Blake foregrounds purpose and audience awareness as both writing concerns and reflections of cultural context. Additionally, Blake has worked as an academic advisor with the English Department and a coordinator for the Professional Writing minor in the past, helping him to think of students’ concerns and goals beyond the classroom.

Across his various roles, Blake is committed to a socially responsible research agenda, a student-centered philosophy of teaching, and service work that privileges diversity and inclusivity. His work has appeared in Narrative, Race, and Ethnicity in the Americas and in New Directions for Teaching and Learning. He is currently working on his first book project—Black Soldiers of the First World War: Performance, Recognition, and Literary Representation—which engages both the service and the circulating images of black soldiers from the start of the twentieth century to the eve of the Second World War and argues that black soldiers as literary characters provided a narrative vehicle for negotiating the tangled meanings of race, patriotism, and citizenship.

Majoring in History and English (with a creative writing concentration), Blake earned a bachelor’s at Oberlin College, where he was inspired by the socially progressive view of learning and labor. At North Carolina State University, Blake acquired a master’s degree and began a research agenda centered on race, masculinity, and violence. At Ohio State, Blake developed a robust interdisciplinary methodology as he earned his doctorate. In addition to teaching at Ohio State, Blake also worked at the Center for the Teaching and Study of Writing and the University Center for the Advancement of Teaching, garnering a range of strategies for supporting the work of education across the spaces of the university.