Menu Adam R Brown


Poli 397/399r, winter 2021

Professor Adam Brown (about me)
Office phone: (801) 422-2182
Office: 772 KMBL

Current syllabus:
Syllabus version: March 22nd, 2021

Office hours: Stop by any time or text/email to make an appointment.

Zoom links for office hours, meetings, and prep course: Please login to this website to access these. If it's your first time, you will need to retrieve a password. Click "what's my password" below the login form, then fill out the next form to have a password reset link emailed to you.

This syllabus covers both Poli 397 and Poli 399r. However, these are two separate courses, with separate purposes and separate grades.

Overview of Poli 397, the preparation course

Poli 397 is a preparatory course addressing Utah politics generally. It includes a book on Utah politics, a handbook summarizing internship skills, a series of skills-building assignments, several lectures and briefings, and a final exam. Poli 397 lasts only a few weeks and concludes before the legislative session begins. You must complete Poli 397 successfully to participate in the internship.

The U.S. Congress employs thousands of support staff, most of whom work for a specific member of Congress. An average U.S. Senator has 39 personal staffers, and an average U.S. Representative has 14. Likewise, in most states each legislator has at least a few staffers working for him or her.

Utah is the exception. Rank-and-file members of the Utah Legislature have no personal staff. There is some shared staff, of course; for example, each legislative committee has a couple shared staffers that help legislators draft and analyze bills. But individual Utah legislators do not have any personal staff.

As a result, Utah's legislators rely heavily on their interns for assistance and advice. Congressional interns typically report to a Representative's or Senator's other staffers, but legislative interns here in Utah work directly with their legislators. You can have much more meaningful experiences working with your Utah legislator than you would have working in a large Congressional office. But to succeed, you will need to be as useful to your legislator as an office full of personal staff.

My task is to prepare you as well as possible for that role so that you can be as successful as BYU interns have been in the past. Toward that end, we will cover several topics in the preparation course:

In addition to these academic topics, we will also conduct several skill-building exercises. You will learn to read and summarize legislation, draft talking points, analyze a constituent survey, reply to constituent correspondence, and so on. Along the way, I hope you will make an effort to acquaint yourselves with one another. To be successful, you will need to work together throughout your internships.

Overview of Poli 399r, the internship course

Poli 399r is the vehicle for awarding you credit for your internship experience. Poli 399r spans the entire semester. Before the session, you will conduct background research on your assigned legislator; during the session, you will work hard and complete a brief mid-session report; and after the session, you will submit a portfolio and possibly a term paper reflecting on what you have learned.

BYU does not give credit simply for doing an internship. (This is based on a university policy that is not specific to this internship.) Generally, BYU sees internships as their own reward, given that they provide solid experience, a significantly strengthened resumé, wonderful networking opportunities, and (in this case) compensation. Indeed, there are many internships you can arrange on your own without receiving any college credit at all, if you so choose.

So what is the role of college credit (and thus Poli 399r) in an internship? BYU happily awards academic credit for internships to the extent that you demonstrate meaningful learning. Although Poli 399r will involve only a handful of class meetings, you will need to submit several assignments. These assignments will allow you to show what you have learned, justifying the Poli 399r credits you receive.

Again, Poli 399r credit is not for the experience but for the learning. No matter how well you perform during your internship, do not expect an automatic A. Your grade will reflect the quality of the academic work you submit as much as your performance in the Legislature.

Broader learning outcomes

The political science department has established specific learning outcomes to ensure that all our graduates grow spiritually and intellectually. Poli 397 and 399r emphasize these learning outcomes especially:

How much credit do we receive, and what is the workload?

Each university has a different administration that sets different policies about internship credit. You will learn during your internship that interns from other schools get different amounts of credit than you. Some offer none; others offer 12 credits. Those that do offer credit generally tie all the credit up into a single course number, including credit for participating in post-internship coursework. BYU takes a more flexible approach, allowing you to earn anywhere from 5 to 14 credits.

Poli 397. You will receive 2.0 credits for the preparation class, Poli 397, held during the first weeks of January. Poli 397 will be graded as rigorously as other political science courses. You receive 2.0 credits because you submit two-thirds as much work as in a 3.0 credit class, not because the work is easier. The university catalog says you should expect "three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared; much more time may be required to achieve excellence [i.e. an A]." Most courses last 14 weeks, implying 84 hours of work to earn 2.0 credits. We will do that work in 2-3 weeks, so expect a fast pace.

Poli 399r. You will receive 3.0 or 6.0 credits (your choice) for the actual internship and related coursework as part of Poli 399r during winter semester. Once the university's add/drop deadline passes, you cannot change how much Poli 399r credit you are registered for. Read this syllabus before the add/drop deadline and consider carefully how much credit you would like to earn and how much written work you would like to do after the internship. (In years past, we required all interns to complete 6.0 credit hours. We created the 3.0 credit option to accommodate students who do not need the credit hours to graduate and prefer to pay part-time tuition. If 6.0 credits won't speed your graduation plans, save yourself some money and register for only 3.0 credits.)

Optional second block courses. Together, Poli 397 and Poli 399r will earn you up to 8.0 credits. If you wish to earn more, you can enroll in Poli 319r or Poli 421 for second block. You may have noticed that second block starts before the internship ends. Don't worry: The department offers these second-block electives specifically for returning legislative interns, meaning that these classes don't get fully underway until after the internship ends. Expect the instructors to compensate for the lost class time by asking you to complete some readings or other assignments on your own while the internship is still in progress, or by accelerating the course's pace. (You may register for second block courses offered by other departments if you wish, but you will need to make arrangements with the instructor to miss the first several days of class; not all instructors will agree to this.)

Consider a minor in Political Strategy. The Political Science department's topical minors are open to any major (including political science majors). Poli 399r credit counts toward this minor's 18 required hours. The type of student who is drawn to this internship usually has completed other courses related to this minor also. (More generally, we encourage political science majors to complete the minor that aligns with their chosen track to receive appropriate acknowledgement on their transcript.)

Consider an interdisciplinary minor in Civic Engagement. Both Poli 397 and 399r count toward this minor's 18 credit hours, in addition to other courses you may have taken.

What books do we need?

See, the training website for interns from all universities. Order materials well in advance.

What if I need to miss work one day?

Don't skip work. Legislative staff will fire interns who shirk their responsibilities, resulting in a failing grade in Poli 399r. Even if your legislator isn't keeping you busy, you need to be in the Capitol. After all, you are an employee of LRGC, not of your legislator, and if your legislator is not keeping you busy LRGC may have work for you elsewhere. At a minimum, LRGC expects you in the Capitol from 8am until 5pm every day; if your legislator has an officially scheduled meeting (i.e. floor debate, committee hearing) outside those hours, LRGC expects you to remain until the meeting concludes.

What if I become sick or unable to work? If you must miss work for any reason, contact both your legislator and Nathan Brady, the LRGC internship coordinator. Contacting Nathan is important; he might have underused interns who can assist your legislator while you are ill. If you miss more than one or two days over the course of the internship, contact me (in addition to Nathan and your legislator) to prevent damage to your Poli 399r grade.

Know the difference between a cold and an illness. If all you have is congestion or other basic cold symptoms, take some cough syrup and come to work (but wash your hands regularly to avoid spreading your cold). If you are vomiting, have a high fever, or have other more serious symptoms, you are ill and should follow the instructions above. Do not expose people to the flu or other serious illnesses. Addendum for winter 2021: Take all appropriate precautions to avoid contracting and spreading covid19. If you have a fever, cough, fatigue, headache, loss of taste or smell, recent exposure to a positive case, or other covid19 symptoms, stay home until you get tested.

Can I take other courses or hold another job during my internship? No. You will work full time from the morning of the General Session's opening day until midnight on the last day. You should also be available to your legislator for part-time work during the 2-3 weeks prior to the General Session. (If requests for pre-session work conflict with Poli 397, talk to me.) Do not enroll in any other class, not even at the Salt Lake Center, unless it will not require any work until after the legislative session ends in March.

Grades and assignments

Your Poli 397 grade will reflect the following, all of which will be completed prior to the General Session:

2.0 creditsPoli 397 assignments
6% Skills: Excel and survey, part 1 (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
9% Skills: Excel and survey, part 2 (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
7% Skills: Legislative website (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
7% Skills: Bill tracking (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
9% Skills: Bill summaries and talking points (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
7% Skills: Constituent emails (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
55% Final exam on everything, but especially the Utah book, lectures, and flashcards (Learning Suite).
Mercy If your (weighted) skills assignment average exceeds your final exam score, I will flip from 45% skills/55% final to 55% skills/45% final when calculating your course grade.

Your Poli 399r grade includes assignments completed before, during, and after the General Session. Grades are calculated differently depending on whether you register for 3.0 or 6.0 credits of Poli 399r:

3.0 credits6.0 creditsPoli 399r assignments
16% 10% Pre-session: Research your Legislator (instructions at, but submit here when ready)
3% 2% Pre-session: Meet your Legislator (instructions at; submit by email when ready)
3% 2% Mid-session report (instructions ; submit by email)
40% 26% General internship performance (includes legislator's evaluation; see portfolio instructions )
38% 30% Portfolio of internship activities (instructions ; submit hard copy)
30% Term paper or project (instructions ; submit hard copy)

About "general internship performance." Your legislator's written evaluation is only one of many inputs. I visit the Capitol frequently during legislative sessions, and I talk to people there about how interns are doing. In addition, I incorporate information from your midsession report and portfolio into my assessment of your performance. Thus, a glowing evaluation from your legislator does not require me to grant full credit for internship performance, nor does a negative evaluation require me to fail you. You will do well if you work hard, follow the advice from your trainng, and you use your midsession report and portfolio to document your performance effectively. The vast majority of BYU interns perform wonderfully. Talk to me at any time if you have concerns.

To emphasize: Your internship performance influences far more of your score than the "General internship performance" category implies, since your portfolio and midsession report also reflect performance. No matter how many credit hours you register for, your work performance shapes a solid majority of your grade.

It will be your obligation to obtain an evaluation letter from your legislator(s) by the deadline given below. (Instructions for obtaining a valid performance evaluation are included in the portfolio instructions .) No matter how many credits you pursue, failure to obtain a letter will result in a 15% deduction to your Poli 399r grade. If you are unable to obtain a letter after a good faith effort, come to me for assistance.

How to submit assignments

You will submit assignments differently before the session than after.

Before the session, submit assignments in PDF format through this website using this interface. I consider each assignment due by 4:00pm so that I may help you with any technical or website issues that may arise. As a grace period, the website will accept assignments up through 11:59pm. However, after 4:00pm you are gambling with your grade. If an internet outage, website error, or any other problem prevents your submission after 4:00pm, you are out of luck. Format each pre-session assignment as a memorandum unless directed otherwise. You will want to read this: How to write a memo. You may also be interested in this, by the way: How to write a business letter.

Pre-session late assignment policy: Anything submitted on the next workday is a 10% penalty; two workdays is a 25% penalty; later is unacceptable without a very good reason. If something legitimate (serious illness, car accident, family emergency) makes your assignment late, contact me as soon as possible to work things out.

During the session, you will submit a couple assignments by email. Using email makes it easier for us to have some back-and-forth dialog about these assignments as needed.

After the session, submit assignments for Poli 399r (portfolio, term paper) to me (hard copy) by 4:45pm on the due date. These assignments are too bulky for me to read off the screen; I need them hard copy. If I am in my office, you may bring them to me directly. If I am away, place them in the drop box near the 7th floor KMBL elevators. Please do not email these assignments or slide them under my door. (I will accept postal mailed portfolios and emailed term papers if you will not live near BYU after the internship concludes.) If your portfolio is too big for the drop box and I am not in my office, give it to the political science front desk secretaries.

Post-session late assignment policy: Because post-session assignments are hand-delivered, they are due at 4:45pm on their due date. Anything submitted after the office closes will be considered a day late. Up to one workday late gets a 5% penalty; two workdays late gets a 10% penalty; three workdays late gets a 25% penalty; later is unacceptable.


Attendance and participation are essential. There are likely to be last-minute changes to our schedule, so keep your schedule flexible.

Each missed meeting will result in a 5% penalty to your course grade. Missed meetings held prior to the General Session affect your Poli 397 grade; missed meetings held after the session affect your Poli 399r grade. (There is only one post-session meeting.) Avoid these penalties by noting all meetings, including the post-session meeting, on your personal calendar.

If you are sick or have an unavoidable conflict, ask me (promptly) to excuse the absence. If I excuse you from the post-session meeting (for Poli 399r), I will provide you with makeup instructions. If I excuse you from a pre-session meeting (for Poli 397), follow these instructions to waive the 5% penalty: Get a copy of the day's notes from one or two other BYU students (ideally two). Download any PowerPoint slides that may relate to the material you missed. Review all materials and write a 1-2 page summary in your own words. If review questions or a terms list were provided for the material you missed, follow your summary with an answer to each review question and a definition of each term in your own words. Finally, list any lingering questions that you may have about the missed material. When you are done, submit your makeup assignment to me in person (outside of class) so that we can discuss your questions. This make-up assignment (including meeting with me) is due within 3 workdays of your absence. Please make an appointment by email to ensure that you do not miss this deadline.

What books do we need?

You will find a list of required materials at, which is an information website used by interns from all universities during the combined portion of your training. Refer to the Poli 397/399r syllabus (i.e. this document) for policies specific to BYU students; refer to for the pre-session training schedule and list of materials. Expect the schedule to change at short notice as we juggle our briefers' schedules.

Terminology: legislator vs legislature vs Legislature

Many students struggle with the following terminology. Just to be clear:

The generic term for any assembly that enacts legislation (i.e. laws). The US Congress is a legislature; the Utah State Legislature is also a legislature.
Generic term for a person elected to a legislature. (Their titles are "Representative" or "Senator.")
Utah State Legislature
The full legal name of Utah's legislative body.
Legislature (capitalized)
A proper noun that can be used as a shorthand when referring to the Utah State Legislature.
A proper noun referring to the national legislature that meets in Washington DC. It is incorrect to refer to the Utah Legislature as the Utah Congress; Congress is in Washington DC, not Salt Lake City.

Preventing workplace harassment

Please read this. It is not just the usual boilerplate that comes at the end of each syllabus. You will be working in a professional environment where you must be familiar with this information about sexual harassment.

By law, Brigham Young University is obligated to protect its students from gender discrimination, including unlawful sexual harassment, in all programs and activities sponsored by the university. As you embark on your internship, please be aware of what constitutes sexual harassment and what you should do if you encounter it during your internship opportunity.

Definition. Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when

Examples. Behaviors that contribute to a hostile environment include, but are not limited to:

Please carefully read this Salt Lake Tribune article for specific illustrations of inappropriate sexual behavior/remarks that have been experienced by Utah's female officeholders: "Utah's female politicians have been kissed and touched without consent. Here are some of their stories."

Please carefully read this op-ed from the Salt Lake Tribune for more information: "Commentary: Resolve to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace."

Appropriate response. Both employers and employees have a responsibility to prevent and stop workplace harassment. If you experience harassment while participating in a BYU-sponsored internship like this one, BYU also has a responsibility to ensure a safe work environment. If you experience harassment, report the behavior to your internship coordinator (i.e. either me or Scott Dunaway) and your experience provider (the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel). They will take appropriate action to address and correct the behavior. You may also contact BYU's Equal Opportunity Manager directly or use the 24-hour hotline; contact information is provided under the "Equal Opportunity" heading below.

I take these issues very seriously. So does BYU. So does your employer, the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. Please let us help you.

Honesty and plagiarism

Writing submitted for credit must consist of your own ideas presented in your own language. When appropriate, you may include ideas from others if clearly identified by appropriate introduction ("According to...") or citation (footnoting or other standard referencing). Direct language must additionally appear in quotation marks. Take care while gathering material for your papers to track sources and to differentiate quotations you have jotted down from paraphrases you have written. I will notice cheating on exams or plagiarism on papers. Even unintentional plagiarism has serious consequences. Violations may result in a failing grade on an assignment or in the course; serious violations may result in action by the university. Details about Academic Honesty are found in the university catalog


Mental health, counseling, and stress management

Many lifelong mental illnesses emerge in adolescence and early adulthood. If you experience frequent sadness, worry, fear, inability to focus, nightmares, forgetfulness, or extreme mood changes; if you are withdrawing socially by avoiding friends and social activities; if you experience significant changes in sleeping habits or eating habits; if you are abusing alcohol, prescription medications, or other substances; or if you are thinking about hurting yourself, then please talk to somebody.

Mental health concerns, crime, family problems, and other stressful life events can affect students' academic performance and quality of life. BYU Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS, 1500 WSC, 801-422-3035, provides confidential counseling and stress management services for free to full-time students. For immediate concerns visit

Marginalized groups

President Russell Nelson has taught, "The Creator of us all calls on each of us to abandon attitudes of prejudice against any group of God's children. Any of us who has prejudice toward another race needs to repent! During the Savior's earthly mission, He constantly ministered to those who were excluded, marginalized, judged, overlooked, abused, and discounted. As His followers, can we do anything less? The answer is no! We believe in freedom, kindness, and fairness for all of God's children!"

Elder Ballard has taught, "I want anyone who is a member of the Church, who is gay or lesbian, to know I believe you have a place in the kingdom and recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do. We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing." He has also taught, "We need to embrace God's children compassionately and eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism. Let it be said that we truly believe the blessings of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ are for every child of God."

People may feel vulnerable or marginalized at BYU due to their race, disability, gender, orientation, religious views, age, and so on. Join me in creating a compassionate learning environment where we may learn openly from one another. Please visit with me if I may help you.

Accommodating disabilities

BYU is committed to providing a learning atmosphere that reasonably accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. A disability is a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. Whether an impairment is substantially limiting depends on its nature and severity, its duration or expected duration, and its permanent or expected permanent or long-term impact. Examples include vision or hearing impairments, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, emotional disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety), learning disorders, and attention disorders (e.g. ADHD). If you have a disability which impairs your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (UAC), 2170 WSC or 801-422-2767 to request a reasonable accommodation. The UAC can also assess students for learning, attention, and emotional concerns. If you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, please contact the Equal Employment Office at 801-422-5895, D-285 ASB for help.

Going beyond the boilerplate language above: If you have a disability, including mental health issues or learning disabilities, please visit the University Accessibility Center to receive an accommodation letter. The letter UAC gives you will spare you from needing to explain yourself over and over to each of your instructors; it will also recommend to your instructors specific accommodations that ensure you have a fair opportunity to succeed. The letter will not disclose the disability and I will not ask. I will work with you to identify appropriate accommodations supported by the letter. If you wish to discuss accommodations, I am happy to schedule an appointment at any time, including outside office hours if needed. Even if you have not yet received a letter, please talk to me.

Title IX and sex discimination

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, BYU prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. Sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "sexual misconduct" prohibited by the university. University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of sexual misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment, class discussion, email, or social media post. (This means I am a mandatory reporter; are unsure what that means, please ask.) Incidents of sexual misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at, 801-422-8692, or (24 hours) 1-888-238-1062. BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by sexual misconduct, including the university's Victim Advocate. Find further information at

Reading and assignment schedule

You will find additional scheduling information at