There are three principal components of the program:
- Examination of the processes and function of the courts, Congress, the Presidency, the bureaucracy, and national elections;
- Focus on domestic issues such as the economy, crime, and minority issues and their perception by the press and special interest groups;
- Study of foreign affairs, national security, the military, and the changing geopolitical world.
The seminar consists of visits to and observations of institutions and people in the system and briefings by specialists in and out of government. Briefings have been held at the White House, the Pentagon, Congressional offices, government agencies including the CIA, embassies (such as the Saudi Arabian and Israeli embassies), as well as in the offices of special interest groups. In recent years, students have met with Supreme Court Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, former Senator and presidential candidate Bob Dole, ABC News broadcaster Sam Donaldson, political consultant James Carville and consumer advocate Ralph Nader, among many others.