A Capitol Idea by Hugh A. Bone

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"Into the classroom strode an amiable looking man in his late 60s, his thick white hair combed neatly back and neatly framed by steel-gray glasses, his face the picture of grandfatherly wisdom.

"At the time, I thought of him as the teacher of Political Science 453. In time, I would learn firsthand that he was one of the finest professors and exemplars of the academic tradition ever to teach at the University," says John Carlson, UW alumnus, president of the Washington Institute for Policy Studies in Seattle, radio host and newspaper columnist.

[Hugh A. Bone]
Professor Emeritus Hugh A. Bone. Photo by Karen Orders, University Photography  

That professor's name: Hugh A. Bone. For 30 years, from the late 1940s through the late 1970s, Bone taught thousands of students about the political process, campaigns, and state government. "His mission, as he saw it, was to synthesize political theory and reality," continues Carlson. Bone "was not interested in changing the political views of students. He instead was intent on leavening youthful passions with depth, understanding, and perspective." footnote 1

Pioneering efforts by Bone established the Washington State Legislative Internship Program, which today sends students from all of the State colleges and universities to intern as staff assistants in the State Legislature during the annual legislative session.

Bone's dedication to the teaching of responsible citizenship was the impetus for making this practical application of political theory available to students on a yearly basis. Since the inception of the program in 1956, the UW political science department has sponsored approximately ten UW students per year to observe the political process and to work with State legislators, legislative staffs, lobbyists, and the press.

Student interns work a full-time schedule of 40 hours per week for a nominal salary. They also attend a course meeting once every two weeks, and fulfill academic requirements of a major research paper and a weekly journal for the supervising faculty. Students participating in the program are evaluated by both faculty and intern supervisors. When students return to campus, they share the insights they've gained from their experience in Olympia with their fellow students and their instructors.

"Legislative interns help us track bills, perform legislative research, and respond to letters from people back home," says former state Senator Nita Rinehart. "They perform a valuable service while getting an up-close look at the Legislature in action." The internship program initiated by Bone has become a national model. Over the years students have been motivated by Bone to take an active part in public affairs and many have gone on to occupy public office.

As a scholar in American government, Bone published twelve books, including American Politics and the Party System, Politics and Voters, and Washington Politics, as well as numerous articles on state and national politics. "He was an outstanding teacher," recalls Congressman Norm Dicks, who took several classes from Bone. "He was a very practical, sensible individual who understood the reality of American politics."

On another front, the UW political science department has been a sponsor of a national internship program since 1977. Over the years, through an educational non-profit group called the Washington Center Internship Program located in Washington, D.C., the UW political science department has sent more than 300 students to live and work full-time in the nation's capitol. Interns are placed in Congress, government offices, non-profit agencies, and public and private corporations. Much like the State internship program, students are expected to attend a weekly course and to fulfill appropriate course requirements; they attend speakers' series twice weekly; and they are evaluated by both faculty and internship supervisors.

  1. "One Who Touched Students Far Beyond the Classroom," John Carlson, Political Science Newsletter, University of Washington, April, 1994, p. 1.
  2. Information and assistance provided by Sharon Redeker of the Department of Political Science is gratefully acknowledged.

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