BBA: BL 488

BL 488: Business and the Public Policy Process

Discover how business and public policy work as a Carson Scholar where you learn on campus in the winter term and then travel to Washington, D.C. in early May to meet with a range of elected officials, government experts, industry leaders, issue advocates, and lobbyists!

Ross BBA and Business Minor Juniors and Sophomores are invited to apply to become a Carson Scholar. During the course and Carson Scholars Program – now in its 18th year and with over 1,000 alumni – all students will have the opportunity to meet with government and business leaders, and learn from a range of experts on the public policy process.

The Ross School of Business offers a three-credit BBA course in Washington, D.C. in early May following Michigan Commencement. Students admitted to the course are designated as “Carson Scholars.”

2024 Applications are now open!
Follow this
link to complete the application.

The Washington Campus is a consortium of business schools at seventeen prominent U.S. universities, including the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Organized in 1978 by L. William Seidman (Michigan MBA, ’49) and other visionary academic and business leaders, the Campus was founded on the principle that understanding how government works is indispensable knowledge for all business leaders.

The Washington Campus course “Business and the Public Policy” is designed to provide students with the frameworks, concepts, and tools needed to incorporate the public policy dimension into managerial decision making and strategic planning. The course focuses on Congress and the legislative process, the structure of the federal courts, the impact of judicial decision making on business, the federal regulatory process, the organization of the White House, the role of lobbyists and interest groups, and the role of the media in the public policy process. 

The course will have 6 class sessions during the Winter B semester before heading to Washington D.C. in early May the week after University of Michigan Commencement. While in Washington, students will participate in an intensive, one-week course held at a series of unique locations around D.C.

In 2005, David Carson (Michigan BBA, ’55) established a gift at the Ross School of Business that covers the Washington Campus fee. Forbes magazine named Mr. Carson, the now-retired CEO of People’s Savings Bank in Bridgeport, Connecticut, as one of the 500 “most powerful people” in corporate America. Students admitted to the course are designated as “Carson Scholars.”

  • Carson Scholar students are still responsible for a Ross course fee of $600, which covers five nights at a centrally located Washington, DC hotel and other administrative costs. The Ross fee of $600 will be directly charged to a Carson Scholar’s Winter tuition bill. Carson Scholars are also responsible for arranging their own transportation to Washington and for their meals during the program. 
  • To ensure access to the course and experience additional financial support from Ross is available so all qualified students should apply.

The faculty director is Professor Norm Bishara.

  • Guest lecturers in the course include current and former government officials – for example, members of Congress, senior White House and Congressional staff, regulatory and cabinet agency executives, journalists, business executives, political professionals, and representatives of advocacy organizations. The course includes site visits to Capitol Hill and various government and diplomatic buildings, as well as opportunities to act with a range of business leaders and University of Michigan alumni.

Admission decisions are announced before the Thanksgiving break. Admitted students add the class when registering for Winter Term courses. This course is included in the 18-credit-hour limit for the Winter term.  Students not admitted to the course may be placed on a waitlist.

  • First-round applications for the May 2024 session are due Sunday, October 15, 2023, at 8:00 p.m. and will receive priority review.
  • Applications submitted by the second round deadline (Monday, October 30, 2023, at 8:00 p.m.) will receive a full review, subject to availability.  Later applications may be reviewed depending on the continued availability.

For more information:  Be sure to read our page of Frequently Asked Questions about the Washington Campus program, and view the agendas from the past session. If you have additional questions, please contact or Professor Norm Bishara (

Additional Information & Background

An understanding of how government works is essential for any future business leader because public policy issues affect every major field of interest—including consulting, investment banking, marketing, strategy, and entrepreneurship. Beyond the course content, selection as a Carson Scholar provides evidence of academic distinction that may prove useful when applying for a job or to graduate school.

  • “It was a wonderful experience and I would definitely do it again in a heartbeat.”
  •  “This experience was one of the best learning experiences thus far in my college career.”
  • “Not only is the Washington Campus the best way to understand the political landscape, it also provides an atmosphere in which to think about business in ways you simply couldn’t in the conventional business school setting.”
  • “One of the best learning experiences in all my education. Eye opening to process and current issues in government. Best class I have taken in the business school.”
  • “The Washington Campus experience puts you at the center of the nation and its current issues and debates.”
  • “This is a ‘must do’ experience not only for the future business leaders of this country but for any responsible citizen. A truly unique opportunity to meet fascinating, intelligent people and discuss issues….”
  • “Seeing politics in practice made us learn more in one week that we would ever learn in a semester of politics in theory…. The inside perspective we received was amazing and shocking. This really was the best academic experience I’ve ever had.”
  • “This course should be taken by anyone who intends to operate in the business world. It will expose you to the intricate relations between businesses and the public policy process. Clear understanding of this relationship is imperative to those who truly wish to be successful.”
  • “[Carson Scholars] was an eye-opening experience to the inner workings of the government and how businesses can press their ideas and issues…. I will be able to use the knowledge of processes, policies, and politics I learned here in all my future business endeavors.”
  • “Unbelievable experience that enlightened me to many aspects of politics I had never thought of or known about.”
  • “[Carson Scholars] is an AMAZING experience. I have never learned such a large amount in such a small time frame. It was such valuable information that opened my eyes to issues I was completely unaware were happening. After taking part [in the course] I feel I am not only a more educated student but a more informed citizen as well.”
  • “A hands-on, impactful experience in the heart of the nation’s capital—what more could I have asked for?”
  • “This was a great experience that can’t be replicated with classroom discussion at a university campus. It helped me develop my own views and opinions as well as discuss important issues.”

The Washington Campus Program is available to BBA students at the Ross School of Business through the generosity of David Carson, who is strongly committed to developing business leaders willing to take risks in encouraging government reform. Mr. Carson was born in Birkenhead, England. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1955. After serving in the U.S. Army, he joined Hartford Insurance Group, where he eventually headed the worldwide property and casualty business. Following eight years as CEO of Middlesex Mutual Assurance Co., Mr. Carson was named president and CEO of People’s Savings Bank in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a position he held until his retirement in 2000. Under his leadership, the bank earned record profits and became a publicly-traded company. Forbes magazine named Mr. Carson as one of the 500 “most powerful people” in corporate America.

Mr. Carson’s influence extends beyond the business community. He has served as an officer and director of several non-profit organizations. Four universities have honored him with honorary degrees and he has received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor from the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. A risk-taker who is willing to fight for government reform, Mr. Carson has testified before Congress on numerous occasions on matters relating to insurance, banking, and social issues. In 2005, he funded The Washington Campus Undergraduate Studies Program at the Ross School of Business to enable future business leaders to understand how government works so that they can develop effective corporate strategies for participation in the public policy arena.The next generation of Carsons are also active in public service and public policy, including Peter Carson, who leads the Corporate Affairs, North America, practice for Weber Shandwick and is based in Washington, D.C.  Peter Carson is also a popular speaker during the Washington residency each May.