Current Position: MPP Candidate, University of Oxford
Internships: The White House, Office of Councilman Kenyatta Johnson, 2013 Truman Scholar
Education: Villanova University
Stefan Johnson, an alum of the 2014 Hertog Political Studies Program, was a Truman Scholar. He has worked in the White House, mentored DC high school students, and been a community leader in his hometown of Philadelphia. Stefan is currently working towards a Master of Public Policy at the University of Oxford.
HOW DID YOU FIRST HEAR ABOUT THE POLITICAL STUDIES PROGRAM? WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO APPLY?
I heard about the Hertog Foundation through Dr. Daniel Mark, one of my professors of Political Science at Villanova University. I applied because I thought Hertog would help me understand how theory and practice complement one another. I have had many political experiences, which might be called ‘practical,’ but previously did not have a solid foundation in the history of Western political thought. The opportunity to read canonical texts in the context of contemporary political discourse is what attracted me.
The Political Studies Program provided me with grounding in not only the theoretical aspects of how our institutions came to be, but also in the practical aspects of how they currently function. I read important thinkers such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, and de Tocqueville, while also placing these readings within the context of contemporary public policy, such as American foreign and domestic policy. On top of our seminar classes, we enjoyed weekly lectures and events with accomplished scholars, like Harvey Mansfield, and practitioners, like Congressman (now Senator) Tom Cotton.
I had many of the most intellectually stimulating conversations in my life with my peers at Hertog—both regarding the texts we read in class and about the issues of the day.
WHAT STICKS OUT IN YOUR MEMORY ABOUT YOUR EDUCATIONAL EXPERIENCE WITH POLITICAL STUDIES?
The Political Studies Program offers something that is overlooked in academia today: intellectual diversity. The Program truly attracts students from across the political spectrum, and that is something incredibly unique to Hertog.
OVERALL, WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION OF POLITICAL STUDIES?
The study of politics is critical for all people, regardless of someone’s interests or vocation. One of my friends from the program is a Physics major at Princeton, and we both agreed that the knowledge of political institutions is essential to human flourishing. Political ideas propel our republic forward.
DO YOU THINK POLITICAL STUDIES IS BENEFICIAL FOR YOUNG PEOPLE INTERESTED IN PUBLIC SERVICE?
I would recommend Hertog to anyone, especially folks who are interested in public service. During my junior year of college I had the opportunity to win the Truman Scholarship, which is awarded to students who have demonstrated leadership potential and a commitment to public service. After doing Political Studies I went back to the Truman people and said, “We’ve got to get more of our Scholars over to the Hertog Political Studies Program. It’s an incredible opportunity to learn about civic life, how to give back to one’s community and ultimately how to be a more well-rounded person.”
WHERE DO YOU SEE YOURSELF IN 10 YEARS?
Life is very interesting; you never know where you’re going to end up. I helped organize the World Meeting of Families – Philadelphia 2015, an event which worked to highlight the important role of the family on a global scale. I never thought I’d help prepare for a papal visit to my hometown—it’s so hard to know what life with throw at you. But in 10 years, I hope to be in a position where I can give back to my community, especially on a local level.