Document Type

Undergraduate Research Paper

Publication Date


Paper Status


Faculty Nominator

Dr. Ben Meiches


Inspired by a drive to instigate widespread and environmentally-sustainable change, this paper explores the powers and processes shaping public policy in Washington State through a reflection of the legislative internship. A recounting of personal experiences and observations in light of knowledge gained during ten weeks of academic, civic, social, and emotional learning offers a ‘behind the scenes’ peek at the 2023 Legislative Session with the hope of informing future efforts to influence policy and practice. The reflection opens with a description of the Washington State Legislature, an overview of intern duties, and a summary of the academic resources used to help identify and analyze key themes that characterize the state’s policy making process. What follows is a discussion and analysis of three such themes: 1) constituents often misunderstand the extent of legislative powers and activities, 2) political party loyalty and influence are the main drivers of policy, and 3) persuading others to sign on to a movement requires an understanding of the values and experience shaping their perspective and connecting these to the end goal. Highlighting a need for improved public education, communication, and engagement on matters both civic and environmental, the paper concludes with a hopeful reminder that we can change the world through the consistent practice of empathy, learning, and diverse fellowship.