A Passion for Civic Discourse | Justin's Student Story

A Passion for Civic Discourse | Justin's Student Story

Justin H. was reading an email during his first year at Arizona State University when he came across an information session about a study abroad opportunity in India.

The Global Intensive Experience, offered by the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, offered travel support, but required students to enroll in at least one course in the school’s curriculum, so Justin, passionate about understanding both sides of a political argument, enrolled in Professor Zachary German’s Federalist and Anti-Federalists course. 

“I absolutely loved it,” Justin, who is now a double major in political science and civic and economic thought and leadership, says of his first CEL class. ”I ended up taking German’s courses for the next two semesters. I loved him as a professor but I was also getting something I wasn’t getting from my political science classes.” 

Justin really enjoyed the heavy emphasis on the classics and philosophy and how the courses forced him to dive deeper into theories behind our government and tied them to what is happening in today’s political spectrum. 

In line with his passion, Justin works with Bridge ASU and is the director of civic engagement for the Undergraduate Student Government. Justin, an Arizona native, also recently participated in the school’s One Small Step at ASU initiative, where he sat down with a fellow ASU student to discuss the political discourse that we face today. One Small Step is part of StoryCorps, the national storytelling nonprofit, that brings people together to have otherwise impossible conversations, giving them license to talk about things they otherwise might not discuss. 

You can listen to that interview here. 

A trip to Israel

Justin attended his second GIE in Israel and the West Bank in May 2019, which was the first trip to the deeply conflicted nation in ASU’s history. For Justin, this was an opportunity to learn more about conflict and its impacts on people’s lives. 

“I had the opportunity to speak with people on both sides of the political issue of the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, and actually hear their perspectives first hand. That was incredible.”   

Arizona State University Study Abroad Israel

One thing Justin learned is the conflict is much more complicated than what can be seen on the surface. 

“It’s not a simple thing that can be sorted out by a discussion, or as we like to do with a conference or summit, where we bring the leaders together,” he added.”It runs much deeper than that.” 

“I absolutely love their mission,” Justin said. “Starting that at a young age gave me hope for the future of the conflict and that it can be solved by changing the people’s views instead of a top-down solution. Doing projects like this that kind of encourage collaboration can be beneficial to solving the problem.”Justin hopes to be able to return to Israel and the West Bank to research on the type of work that is being done at the Kindergarten the cohort visited in Tel Aviv. The Kindergarten is a bi-cultural classroom that works toward building partnerships and equality between Jewish and Arab citizens of Israel. 


The School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership offers Global Intensive Experiences during academic breaks. These are opportunities to travel and apply themes learned in classes to real service and leadership projects abroad. Prior to traveling, student participants will join classmates and faculty in the study and discussion of culture, politics, and relevant contemporary issues in the countries they will visit. During their travels, GIE participants will research, explore, work, and collaborate with people from different backgrounds and perspectives in order to gain a deeper understanding of the important issues that they will need to consider in order to be effective, thoughtful, globally-conscious leaders. 

Learn more.