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Insights from the CIA

Students in Justin Gest’s PUBP 500 Theory and Practice of Public Policy [1] class had a unique opportunity last spring when they received feedback on their policy projects from former CIA deputy and acting director Michael Morell.

“Few people have received or delivered as many high-stakes briefings as Michael Morell,” says Gest, an assistant professor in the Schar School of Policy and Government [2]. “It’s hard to think of anyone more qualified to advise students about the best way to present their ideas clearly and succinctly.”

Former acting CIA director Mike Morell, now a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the the Schar School of policy and government, lectures public policy students on briefing decision-makers. Photo by Ron Aira

Morell, who briefed four sitting U.S. presidents, from George H. W. Bush to Barack Obama, also oversaw a staff of intelligence professionals who communicated complex findings to policymakers and executives. He’s now a senior fellow at the Schar School’s Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security [3].

Morell shared advice with the class on how to strengthen their presentations and spoke about things to watch for in a real-life briefing session. Students found his feedback invaluable.

“Receiving feedback on how to brief, as well as how to craft policy, from someone who has done both for decades at the highest levels of U.S. government is exactly the sort of edge that the Schar School can offer,” says public policy graduate student Joe Palank.