Senior Mick Adkins participated in the MIW program in the fall of 2010 to pursue his interests in politics and foreign affairs. In his internship in the Foreign and Defense Policy Department at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), Mick not only satisfied his curiosity, but he produced a research paper that inspired the Michigan in Washington Program’s first Outstanding Research Paper Award.  This award will be given to one student each year who demonstrates excellence both in research skills and in research writing, based on assessment by program faculty and instructional staff.  Professor Edie Goldenberg, Faculty Director of MIW, decided to establish this award because “I think it’s appropriate to recognize the outstanding work of our MIW students and to provide an additional incentive for everyone to excel.”    

Like many others who have participated in MIW, Mick heard about the program from a friend during his sophomore year.  After hearing about the research focus, networking opportunities, and the overall allure of living in the capital of the United States, he knew it was something he should consider.  After a lengthy and somewhat hectic application process, which consisted of juggling out-of-town work commitments and scheduling phone interviews during lunch breaks, Mick found himself preparing for a semester in Washington, DC.

Mick spent much of his time at AEI helping various scholars on different projects, compiling dossiers on a number of terrorist groups operating in Lebanon and Syria, summarizing events on the website, and briefing  scholars on key figures and events as they prepared to testify before Congress.  When asked about his favorite experience at AEI, Mick describes a department “war game” in which every scholar ran through a hypothetical security dilemma.  “It was pretty incredible to be on the ground floor, watching the wheels turning and listening in on people who had a very real impact on our country’s defense policy,” Mick said.  

Mick chose comparative counterinsurgency policy with a focus on Iraq and Afghanistan as the topic for his research paper.  He said:

“The real heart of my research lies in trying to reconcile the two poles of pure academia and full-on war.  To take the nuance and intricacies of psychology, sociology, and anthropology and merge them with the violence and the terse, bullet-point demands of military culture seems both a lofty and worthwhile task.  Iraq and Afghanistan just so happen to be the conflicts that we currently find ourselves in, but the real endgame is to go past the particulars and find universal patterns and messages that remain constant across vastly different battlefields.”

With Michigan in Washington behind him, Mick looks forward to a potential commission with the United States Marine Corps.  If all goes as planned, he will finish his Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies at the end of this academic year and be in Quantico, VA for Officer Candidate School in October 2012.