A strong interest in government affairs and a deep passion for public policy issues led David Kolansky to study abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland this fall and to pursue an internship in the Scottish Parliament. As a junior in the College majoring in Political Science, what better way to understand our own federal system of government than to directly experience a contrasting parliamentary governmental system. David has been in Scotland at a historic time, witnessing a national independence referendum that brought the country closer than ever before to independence from Great Britain. As a Penn student, this has been a unique opportunity to engage in a historic debate and to witness what is now widely recognized as the most empowering democratic process the United Kingdom has ever seen.
Outside of his political science and economics courses, David has expanded his knowledge in government affairs and public policy in several ways. While serving as an intern in the U.S. House of Representatives in the office of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), he gained valuable insight into the world of policymaking and foreign affairs. As a research intern for the Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative this past summer, David capitalized on his experience gained on Capitol Hill while working with Wharton faculty experts to evaluate nonpartisan economic policy research. David added that, “The opportunity to work with PPI faculty offered me unique insights into the wide range of public policy disciplines that are shaping today’s political debates on Capitol Hill. It also presented me with a tangible opportunity to contribute to the academic policy discussions taking place in Washington.”
Now spending much of his time this semester interning in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, David has not lost sight of his desire to contribute to informing public policy, particularly related to public health. Working together with Michael Matheson, Scotland’s Minister for Public Health, David is exploring the “adverse impacts of decentralizing Scotland’s National Health Service,” a public health system which is increasingly at risk due to budget cuts in Westminster and the privatization of public services. David looks forward to publishing his findings in the coming year in anticipation of the 2015 United Kingdom general election, which promises to see more Scottish National Party (SNP) members elected to the UK Parliament than ever before in the history of the UK.
David continues to navigate the intersection of the private sector and public policy as he explores various other policy interests, among them finance, health care management and energy. Most recently, he published a policy article for Penn Wharton PPI’s blog entitled, “From Crude to Shale: What’s Next for the American Oil Industry,” which focuses on the increasing domestic production and export of American crude oil. David discusses how this shift moves the U.S. “one step closer to energy independence” and may signify “a new era in U.S. energy relations with the rest of the world.” David will return to Penn in the spring and looks forward to applying what he has learned in Scotland to further augment his public policy interests both in the classroom and in the political sphere.