Menu Adam R Brown


Poli 397/399r, winter 2023

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

Current syllabus:
Syllabus version: February 15th, 2023

Office hours: Stop by any time or text/email to make an appointment for a meeting in person or over Zoom.

This syllabus covers both Poli 397 and Poli 399r. However, these are separate courses with separate purposes and separate grades. Broadly speaking, general instruction falls under Poli 397, while work relating to your experience with your assigned legislator falls under Poli 399r.

Purpose of Poli 397, the preparation course

Poli 397 is a preparatory course addressing Utah politics generally. Taught intensively, it concludes before the internship begins. You must complete Poli 397 to participate in the internship. An average US Senator has 39 personal staffers. An average US Representative has 14. In most states, each legislator has at least a few staffers. Utah is an exception; rank-and-file legislators have no personal staff except an intern.

No other legislature relies so much on interns. To succeed, you need to be as useful to your legislator as an office full of staff. There is much to learn, but you can be as successful as past BYU interns. Poli 397 will prepare you. We will cover several academic and practical topics, including Utah political history, Utah's political system, representation, lawmaking, taxation and budgeting, and important policies.

Purpose of Poli 399r, the internship credit

Poli 399r is the vehicle for awarding you credit for your internship. Before the session, you will conduct background research on your assigned legislator; during the session, you will work hard; and after the session, you will submit materials showing what you have learned.

BYU does not give credit simply for doing an internship. BYU sees internships as their own reward, since they provide work experience, networking opportunities, and (in this case) modest compensation. Indeed, there are many internships you can arrange on your own without receiving college credit. BYU allows students to receive academic credit only to the extent that they demonstrate meaningful learning. You will therefore submit several assignments showing what you have learned and how you have grown. Your grade will reflect the quality of the academic work you submit as much as your performance in the Legislature.

Credit hours and workload

Each university that sends interns to the legislature has different policies. You will learn that some interns receive no credit, while others receive 12 credits. Schools that do offer credit generally tie the prep course, internship, and post-internship work into a single course number. BYU takes a flexible approach, dividing credit across four courses and allowing you to choose anywhere from 5 to 15 credits.

Poli 397 is worth 2 credits. BYU says to expect "three hours of work per week per credit hour for the average student who is appropriately prepared." A semester lasts 14 weeks, implying 84 hours of work to earn 2 credits. We will do that in 2-3 weeks, so expect a fast pace.

Poli 399r is worth 3 to 7 credits (your choice, depending on your needs, but you may not change your mind after the add/drop deadline). Registering for more credit will mean you turn in more academic work; the internship itself is unaffected. In the past, all interns completed 6 credits. We created the reduced credit option for students who do not need the credit and prefer to pay part-time tuition.

Second block courses. We offer two electives for returning interns. Second block starts before the internship ends, but these classes won't get fully underway until you return. Instructors may compensate for lost time by assigning advance readings or by accelerating the course. You may register for other second block courses, but you will need to arrange to miss the first several days; not all instructors will agree.

Consider a minor in Political Strategy or Civic Engagement. This internship contributes to both.

Required materials

Much of Poli 397 is taught jointly with legislative interns from all universities. Information specific to BYU students appears in this syllabus. Anything common to all interns appears at, including the supplies list. Order materials well in advance.

Poli 399r does not require additional materials beyond those needed for Poli 397.

Course reserve link for free PDF of the textbook:

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 (see for instructions, then submit here)
9% Skills: Excel and survey, part 2 (see for instructions, then submit here)
7% Skills: Legislative website (see for instructions, then submit here)
7% Skills: Bill tracking (see for instructions, then submit here)
9% Skills: Bill summaries and talking points (see for instructions, then submit here)
7% Skills: Constituent emails (see for instructions, then submit here)
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 60% skills/40% final when calculating your course grade.

Your Poli 399r grade is calculated differently depending on how much credit you register for:

3-5 credits6-7 creditsPoli 399r assignments
13% 10% Pre-session: Research your Legislator (see for instructions, then submit here)
7% 5% Pre-session: Meet your Legislator (instructions at; submit by email)
7% 5% Midsession report (instructions , then submit here)
33% 25% General internship performance (includes legislator's evaluation; see portfolio instructions )
40% 30% Portfolio of internship activities (instructions , then submit here)
25% Term paper or project (instructions , then submit here)

Submit online. Unless directed otherwise, submit assignments as PDFs 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, I do not assess late penalties until midnight. However, if a technical problem arises after 4:00pm and you find yourself unable to submit without my help, you will incur a late penalty.

Late penalties. Late work submitted by the next workday incurs a 5% penalty; two workdays is 10%; three is 25%. If illness or emergency delays your submission, contact me as soon as you can; late penalties are to keep you current, not to punish you when life happens.

About "general internship performance." Your legislator's written evaluation is only one input. I visit the Capitol often and talk to people about how interns are doing. I also incorporate information from your self-evaluations (midsession report, portfolio). A glowing evaluation from your legislator does not require me to grant full credit, nor does a negative evaluation require me to fail you. Put differently, your performance influences more of your grade than the "General internship performance" weight implies, since your portfolio, midsession report, and background research also reflect performance. Work performance shapes a solid majority of your grade. You will do well if you work hard and follow your training. The vast majority of BYU interns perform wonderfully. Talk to me any time you have concerns.

It is your obligation to get an evaluation letter from your legislator(s) by the portfolio deadline (see instructions .) 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, see me for help.

Class/meeting attendance

Each missed meeting will result in a 5% penalty unless excused. Attendance and participation are essential in an internship. Note all meetings on your personal calendar, and keep your schedule flexible in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Before the session (Poli 397): If you are ill or have an emergency, ask me to excuse the absence. Then, to waive the penalty, view the recording if it is available. If there is not a recording available, then get notes from 1-2 BYU students and download any slides or handouts and write a 1-2 page summary; this well help me see what content might have been missing from the notes you got. Bring your summary to me within 3 workdays for a brief chat.

After the session (Poli 399r): If your absence from a post-session meeting is excusable, I will provide you with makeup instructions.

Internship attendance

Expectations. Be in the Capitol from 8am until 5pm daily—longer if your legislator is in committee or on the floor. If your legislator does not keep you busy, check with caucus staff and the Legislature's internship coordinator to see whether you can assist elsewhere.

Don't skip unless excused. Unexcused absences can lead to dismissal from the internship and a failing grade in Poli 399r. If you must miss work due to illness or unavoidable circumstances, promptly contact your legislator and the Legislature's internship coordinator, who might have underused interns who can help your legislator while you are away. If you miss more than 2-3 days total, notify me also.

Do not spread illness. If all you have is minor congestion, you may come to work (but wash your hands regularly, mask up, and take other precautions to avoid spreading your cold). You are ill and should stay home if you have symptoms of flu, covid, norovirus, or other illness: Vomiting, nausea, coughing, chills or fever, loss of taste or smell, sore throat, muscle aches, fatigue, headache (with other symptoms), and so on. Take appropriate precautions to avoid contracting and spreading covid and flu, including vaccination.

Can I take other courses or hold a second job? You must have no conflicts from the morning of the General Session's opening day until midnight on the last day. You should also be available to your legislator as needed during the 2 weeks prior to session. (If requests for pre-session work conflict with Poli 397, talk to me.) Do not enroll in a class or take a job that requires any work before the session's final day.

Preventing workplace harassment

Please read carefully. A few past interns have been targets, witnesses, and even perpetrators of unlawful harassment. By law, BYU must protect its students from gender discrimination, including unlawful sexual harassment, in all university-sponsored activities. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to the conduct is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting the individual or when the conduct interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Behaviors that contribute to a hostile environment include, but are not limited to, discussing sexual activities, telling off-color jokes, unnecessary touching, commenting on physical attributes, displaying sexually suggestive pictures, using crude language or demeaning or inappropriate terms, using indecent gestures, and engaging in hostile physical conduct. Please read this article for specific illustrations of inappropriate behavior experienced by female officeholders: "Utah's female politicians have been kissed and touched without consent. Here are some of their stories." Please also read this op-ed: "Resolve to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace."

Federal and state law also prohibit workplace harassment connected to religion, race, ethnicity, disability, color, national origin, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age (over 40). You might violate these laws if, for example, you make disparaging remarks about those of a particular religion, race, gender identity, sex, or nationality in the workplace.

I take these issues seriously. So does BYU and the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel. Please let us help you. If you witness or experience harassment, report the behavior to your university internship coordinator (me or Danny Damron) and your experience provider (the Legislature's human resources coordinator). They will take appropriate action. You may also contact BYU's Equal Opportunity Manager; see "Title IX" below. Even if behavior just strikes you as odd but not necessarily unlawful, you may seek advice; recognize that most of these individuals are mandatory reporters, so they are required to report any harassment they become aware of.

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...") and citation. 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. Even unintentional plagiarism has consequences. Violations may result in a failing grade on an assignment or in the course; serious violations may result in university action. Read more in the university catalog.

A thesaurus does not eliminate plagiarism. Please review this short infographic about plagiarism  by Emily Myers.

Inclusion, accessibility, and discrimination

"We strive to create a community of belonging composed of students, faculty, and staff whose hearts are knit together in love. ... We value and embrace the variety of individual characteristics, life experiences and circumstances, perspectives, talents, and gifts of each member of the community and the richness and strength they bring to our community" (BYU Statement on Belonging). "The Lord expects us to teach that inclusion is a positive means toward unity and that exclusion leads to division" (Elder Gary Stevenson).

Mental health 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 mood changes; if you are withdrawing socially by avoiding friends and activities; if you experience significant changes in sleeping or eating habits; if you are abusing alcohol, medications, or other substances; or if you are thinking about hurting yourself, then please talk to somebody. Mental health concerns, crime, family problems, and 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 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?" He also taught, "Any abuse or prejudice towards another because of nationality, race, sexual orientation, gender, educational degrees, culture or other significant identifiers is offensive to our maker."

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 ... eliminate any prejudice, including racism, sexism, and nationalism. ... [T]he 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, sexual orientation, religious views, age, and so on. Join me in creating a compassionate learning environment where "all may be edified by all." 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. Examples include vision or hearing impairments, physical disabilities, chronic illnesses, emotional disorders (e.g. depression, anxiety), learning disorders, and attention disorders. If you have a disability that impairs your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the University Accessibility Center (UAC) to request a reasonable accommodation. The UAC can also assess students for learning, attention, and emotional concerns. Going further: If you have a disability, please visit the UAC to request an accommodation letter, which will spare you from needing to explain yourself over and over to each of your instructors. The letter will not disclose your disability, and I will not ask, but it will recommend to your instructors appropriate accommodations. Even if you are still waiting on the UAC letter, please talk to me about appropriate accommodations.

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. Dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are also prohibited forms of sexual misconduct. 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; if you 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