Professor Cabot: A Tribute from Julia Mardeusz ’16

Professor Edward “Ned” Cabot, a founding member of the Trinity College Public Policy and Law Department and long-time professor, passed away on May 15, 2018. His impact was enormous and his loss has been and will continue to be deeply felt within the Public Policy and Law Community. The Policy Voice will be posting a series of tributes and memoriams from faculty and alumni throughout the coming year, of which this from Ms. Mardeusz is the third.

By Julia Mardeusz ’16

Public Policy and Law Alumnus 

If you’re reading Policy Voice, then you probably already know that Public Policy & Law is special, primarily due to Adrienne Fulco and Ned Cabot, two forces of nature on our faculty who did absolutely everything in their power to make this program into the innovative, academically rigorous and socially supportive community that it is today. They built one of the fastest-growing and most popular majors at Trinity from the ground up and made it so that we left class every day feeling compelled to participate meaningfully in public life and informed about policy, politics and law in a time when these things are more opaque than ever. Their knowledge and encouragement have shaped so many students in a relatively short time.

Professor Cabot was not only an excellent teacher but an excellent role model as well, and he came into our lives at an age where we thought intensely and often about the type of people we’d become—not just the jobs we’d have and the cities we’d move to and the graduate schools we’d attend, but our character, both the qualities that others see in us and those that are evident only to ourselves. As young adults, we look not only to our parents and our peers for inspiration in this area, but to our teachers, and the best ones, like Professor Cabot, show us the best of these possibilities and guide us in how to emulate them. The people we meet at this age often have the most influence on us because we are the most receptive to the lessons of others and are looking for ways to be ourselves, whoever that may be.

As one of the few professors I know of who had students vying desperately to gain seats in his classes (all of whom received one), Professor Cabot impacted the lives of a great number of students. His words and actions imparted valuable lessons that changed all of us for the better. I’m sorry that future Trinity students won’t be able to hear these lessons directly from him, but I want to share the ones that made the most significant impression on me.

These are some of the lessons we learned from him. There won’t be a test but you may have to brief them later:

Think carefully but speak confidently. Collegiality and teamwork, in law and in life, lead to great things. Give people second chances, even though they may not deserve them. Assess others on how far they have come, not from where they began. Listen instead of interrupting. Keep a sense of humor at all times. Take delight in other people, and let them know when they challenge you or make you rethink your position. Engage with your community and help in any way that you can. Above all, be compassionate and kind.

Although we are a young group, I am proud to say I can see already that Professor Cabot’s former students have brought these lessons into their lives and will be better lawyers, businessmen and women, academics, politicians, and people for this reason.

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Professor Cabot: A Tribute from Paige Greene ’13

Professor Edward “Ned” Cabot, a founding member of the Trinity College Public Policy and Law Department and long-time professor, passed away on May 15, 2018. His impact was enormous and his loss has been and will continue to be deeply felt within the Public Policy and Law Community. The Policy Voice will be posting a series of tributes and memoriams from faculty and alumni throughout the coming year, of which this from Ms. Greene is the second.

By Paige Greene ’13

Public Policy and Law Alumnus 

In May 2018 I graduated from law school and on October 1, I found out that I passed the Illinois Bar Exam. In November, I’ll be admitted to the Illinois bar. Why am I telling you all of this? Well, none of this would have happened if Professor Cabot hadn’t taken an interest in me early on in undergrad and encouraged me to go to law school.
From an early age, I knew that I wanted to go to law school and become a lawyer but I did not have any attorneys in my family and only knew one or two family friends that were attorneys. When I got to Trinity I knew that majoring in Public Policy and Law would get me one step closer to my dream, but still, I had so many questions about what it took to get there. Because he was a lawyer, I relied on Professor Cabot to help me find my path to my legal career.
A lot of his students reminisce about Professor Cabot’s PBPL 201 course which he taught like a first year law school course, Socratic Method style. And while this course was one of the most formative experiences of my time at Trinity and gave me a flavor of the career I am pursuing now, it was the one on one conversations we had of which I am fondest. In those conversations, Professor Cabot always encouraged me, he helped me improve my public speaking and my writing, he challenged me to think deeply about policy and legal issues, and he also gave me incredible advice.
I specifically remember during my senior year asking for Professor Cabot’s advice about whether or not I should go directly to law school or take a job. While many of my classmates were going straight to law school, I was undecided. I didn’t know what to do. So Professor Cabot helped me figure it out.  We talked extensively about my career goals and why I wanted to go to law school in the first place. Fortunately, I left our conversation knowing exactly what I needed to do. I decided to work for a few years first. It was exactly what I needed to do at the time and I owe Professor Cabot so much for helping me make that important decision.
Eventually, Professor Cabot came through for me again and wrote me a recommendation letter for my law school applications. So when I say that I would not be where I am today without Professor Cabot’s help and guidance, I actually mean that. Professor Cabot always encouraged and supported my dream of being a lawyer. 
What made Professor Cabot so remarkable to me was how deeply he cared about his students’ life outcomes. He wasn’t just there to teach us about the law and to give us a grade. Yes, he helped mold us into thoughtful, collaborative, skilled students and young professionals. But more importantly he took the time to know each of us individually and he always made time for us outside of the classroom. He took a truly holistic approach to teaching and I will always be grateful for having him in my life. 
Professor Cabot’s legacy will carry on through the lives of all of the students to whom he served as a teacher, mentor, colleague and friend. Today as I embark on what I hope will be a long legal career, I will do my best to be to someone else what Professor Cabot was to me.
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Professor Cabot: A Tribute from Ethan Cantor ’16

Professor Edward “Ned” Cabot, a founding member of the Trinity College Public Policy and Law Department and long-time professor, passed away on May 15, 2018. His impact was enormous and his loss has been and will continue to be deeply felt within the Public Policy and Law Community. The Policy Voice will be posting a series of tributes and memoriams from faculty and alumni throughout the coming year, of which this from Mr. Cantor is the first. 

By Ethan Cantor ’16

Public Policy and Law Alumus 

I’m sure if you ask any Trinity alumnus or alumna about Professor Cabot’s courses, they now may only be able to recall a handful of the cases that were covered in his class, or perhaps only a few of the wonderful anecdotes that Ned would weave into class discussions. However, one thing that I bet most of his former students can recall nearly perfectly is the atmosphere of his courses and the spirit in his classroom. I remember being crammed into a room in McCook’s second floor because Ned’s classes seemingly always exceeded their cap for the number of students allowed to enroll. Even students outside of the major were well aware of Professor Cabot’s courses and asked to enroll; Professor Cabot seemed hard-pressed to say no. They saw students huddled in Peter B’s or meeting in study rooms or empty classrooms discussing their briefs and practicing their oral arguments. They knew of all the hard work that was required to succeed in his courses, but they must have been lured by the passion and depth of interest that they witnessed. As a result, this reputation and popularity made for close quarters.

From the second Professor Cabot entered the classroom, not a phone could be seen and not a textbook was left unopened. The level of respect and alertness from his students, almost unseen in modern college courses, resembled that shown to a commanding officer. This sense of focus and order however was not a result of Professor Cabot being a strict instructor. It all stemmed from how much Ned’s students admired him for his wit, wisdom, charisma, and the respect he showed to his students. With all of the seriousness of his classroom discussions, I also remember the smiles and laughter that would regularly spread throughout his classroom. Ned had a fantastic sense of humor and his love of teaching and the material was contagious. We hung onto his words, every question and hypothetical. It was not just from a fear of being cold called and the command in which he implemented the Socratic method, it was because students were fascinated by what they would hear next. Millennial attention spans were stretched beyond their known limits.

Students came more prepared to his class than I had seen in any other, and I believe it was because a sense of personal responsibility. You wanted to do your best because you knew that Ned cared deeply about his students getting the most out of their college educations, rivaling the level of personal investment felt by a parent. Ned’s charm was felt and seen in everything he did, from his extensive comments on student work, the touching emails he’d send to the whole class after particularly lively discussions, and the conversations that he would have with students before and after class. He was that mythical professor that anyone who had a positive college experience raves about, but any Trinity student would argue that he was one-of-a-kind, because he was that special professor to us.

In many ways Ned’s courses differed from the norm, with their pre-course assignments, their formats (including famed oral arguments), and even Ned’s way of grading students by taking a comprehensive view of their performance and improvement over the course of the semester. Yet despite these abnormal characteristics, Ned set the tone for the major with his courses and fostered a sense of comradery amongst majors that is seen in few others. Ned reminded Public Policy & Law majors that the program prides itself in its rigor and level of student interest. Ned challenged students to uphold this reputation, and students kept pace in part to make Ned proud. I remember calling my parents in my freshman year during my first week in Ned’s PBPL 202 course and telling them about how much I was enjoying it. I had wanted to go to Trinity to be taught by professors like him.

A whole generation of Trinity students who were fortunate enough to have Professor Cabot were inspired to pursue careers in law, policy, and a variety of other fields not only because of what Ned taught us in his courses, but also because of what he taught us about ourselves. He helped many of us find our intellectual passions and our appreciation for a strong argument, regardless of what side it is representing. It was an honor to study under Professor Cabot and to have been shaped by the program that he helped build. The outpouring of fond memories and support expressed by the alumni/ae community in the wake of Ned’s passing is just one of the many testaments to his legacy. As much as we all miss Ned’s warm presence and brilliance, we will never forget the way he made us feel and think. It is our prerogative to pass on these gifts to future generations that will not have the fortune to possess these memories.

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Inside Being A Public Policy Major

By Brooke LePage ’19

Contributing Writer

Brooke LePage ’19 poses in front of the Supreme Court building in Washington.

Public policy and law is one of the more popular majors on Trinity’s campus. But, what exactly is it and how is it different from political science?

Before coming to Trinity and becoming a public policy major, I asked myself all of these questions. I would soon learn that public policy and law is an interdisciplinary version of political science. This means that rather than only taking public policy courses, students take approved courses in various departments to complete their requirements in order to be successful in fields relating to policy, law, or non-profit organizations and advocacy.

The major starts off with core classes such as “Introduction to American Public Policy,” “Fundamentals of American Law,” “Research & Evaluation,” and “Law, Argument & Public Policy.” Beyond these core classes found in the Public Policy Department, students are given general requirements such as ethics, quantitative, or legal history, which allows them to take courses in departments such as political science; women, gender, and sexuality; and economics.

The benefit of the public policy and law major, much like that of liberal arts schools in general, is that students are learning a variety of skills, knowledge, and ways of thinking in various disciplines. The result: students graduate with a large toolkit of skills and abilities.

Another key component of the major is the internship requirement. This can be fulfilled through Trinity’s Legislative Internship Program, or through any other relevant internship in Hartford. This requirement puts students in good standing to get summer internships or jobs after graduation.

I had the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., on the Washington Semester Program through American University. This study-away experience included an internship component. In addition to taking classes, exploring the city, meeting and hearing from supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I spent my semester interning in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs (OLCA) at the U.S. Department of Education. During my internship, my work was focused on higher education policy.

Public policy and law majors pick a concentration within the major in order to tailor their studies and show preference and expertise in an area of policy. These concentrations range from law and society to education policy or urban policy. Ultimately, the concentration component acts as a built-in minor for the program.

Public policy and law students can be found burning the midnight oil reading and writing case briefs, policy memos, or preparing for an oral argument. They are a dedicated group of students who enjoy the library, the cookies Professor Fulco often brings to class, Mock Trial, and avoiding their science requirement for the college like the plague.

Ever since I attended the public policy and law open house before choosing to attend Trinity, the program has felt like a family. The students bond by taking the core classes together and working on projects such as the public policy blog, The Policy Voice, to showcase the program. The public policy professors are witty, insightful, experts in their fields, and care about their students.

I am grateful that I was able to find a program that allows me to take classes in various disciplines in order to learn many skills that are valuable in the policy, law, and non-profit job markets. I am also grateful for my fellow public policy majors and professors for becoming my family away from home.

This post originally appeared on the Trinity College Admissions Blog, where Brooke is also a contributor. 

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Shaun Casey, Former Religion Advisor to John Kerry, Visits Trinity

By Brendan W. Clark ’21


Shaun Casey is the Director of the Berkeley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs, a professor of the practice at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and the former head of the U.S. State Department’s Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives. Casey is also the author of The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy v. Nixon.

Shaun Casey, former head of the State Department’s Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives, speaks while Secretary of State John Kerry looks on.


This year, Shaun Casey is the Leonard E. Greenberg Center for Religion in Public Life Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Casey has spoken to classes throughout the week and spoke during a lecture on Tuesday to Trinity students and faculty on the development and treatment of religion and diplomacy under former President Barrack Obama and current President Donald J. Trump. Specifically, Casey shared reflections of how religion was addressed under John Kerry’s State Department, where he was the head of the Office of Faith-Based Community Initiatives.

In addressing his own history, Casey described his advising of Kerry on religion following his loss in the 2004 Presidential campaign. Casey maintained his relationship with Kerry and, in 2013, was invited to launch the Office, which was made possible through executive orders passed under the Bush administration and expanded under the Obama administration. At this time, Casey was given National Security permission from the White House to engage religious officials worldwide in diplomatic endeavors and was subsequently tasked with advising the 70,000 staff members of the State Department on religious questions worldwide.

Casey described these first days as “some of the most daunting” of his life. Casey characterized the disarray of his beginnings by describing his office: at first, he said, he “had a desk, telephone, a nonfunctional computer, and a wastebasket.” His first action was to hire a chief of staff and begin to recognize what issues existed in the State Department’s understandings on religion.

Thereafter, he recognized that foreign agents had outstanding ability with respect to being able to “understand regional politics, business, economics, and history,” but fundamentally lacked a working knowledge on religion. Casey attributed this to a deficit of “energy and reward” for understanding religion in a diplomatic context.

After identifying the deficiencies, Casey sought to gain trust and thereafter built relationships with the Assistant Secretaries of the six different world regions, working with them to identify how religion could be co-opted into their various strategies. Eventually, said Casey, the concreate benefits that could be attained by adding religion to their “strategic initiatives helped them get over their initial reticence.”

Casey cited three reasons why religion is a fundamental component of diplomacy, viz: “religion is a powerful force across the world and is neither always good nor always bad”; “if you make mistakes in misunderstanding religion, it can be extreme costly”; and “religion is diabolically complicated.” Casey cited as an example the 2003 Invasion of Iraq as an incident where fundamental misunderstandings on religion contributed to costly outcomes. Casey also emphasized that the complicated nature and divisions of religion make it an issue that can be best managed on a regional level.

He also cited some of the public policy and regional issues that his Office sought to address, noting the following as critical during his tenure:

  • Israel/Palestine Conflict
  • Myanmar
  • Cyprus and conflicts between the Muslim north and the Greek Orthodox south.
  • Ukraine
  • Iraq

Casey described in detail his work on the Israel-Palestine conflict, describing how the interactions his Office undertook were the first of their kind, noting the surprise as one leader told Casey that he had been “waiting for you for 40 years.” Casey described the process as tense but added that it was critical that he “go to the region and engage Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders in an open discussion of their opinions.” Casey’s office continued to urge all sides to speak candidly about their positions and added that the “leaders were happy that someone understood their community.”

In discussing another key policy development, Casey described his work with refugees. Casey worked closely with the nine organizations that handle refugee resettlement, noting that six of them were religiously affiliated. While touring these organizations, Casey witnessed a “new form of interreligious dialogue,” but was also witness to the difficulties refugees face, noting that one man “feared for his family while walking on the sidewalk as a result of his Muslim identity.” Casey described this experience as rewarding and enlightening.

On the Trump era, Casey stressed the significance of a lack of a “coherent doctrinal strategy” and noted that his office had been discontinued under the present administration. Further, he noted the public policy conundrum formed by President Trump’s declaration that “we are not going to tell [Saudi Arabia] how to run your country.” Casey also touched upon Trump’s decision to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem, remarking that it effectively leaves the “two-state solution hanging by a thread.” Casey noted that the loss of his Office is especially troubling in light of increasing “public and violent incidences of antisemitism.” He also noted the instability of North Korea and its proximity to the major Christian nation of South Korea as well as the instability of the religious regime in Iran.

Further, Casey touched upon the increasing deference to Christian fundamentalism under the Trump administration but added that he nevertheless remains hopeful that the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives may reappear in the future.

Casey’s reflection indeed leaves us with much to consider. How do we understand the significance of religious affairs in diplomacy? In what ways does the disappearance of this office reduce America’s bargaining power? How does religion shape fundamental relationships between countries and regions?

As Casey reminds us, “religion is a driver of change, religious actors transact that change, and religious leaders are at the frontline of continuing that change.” In this way, religion is indeed an indispensable component of the diplomatic process.

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Meeting Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

By Brooke LePage ’19

Contributing Writer

My name is Brooke LePage and I am a rising Public Policy & Law major at Trinity College. This fall, I am partaking in a Washington Semester Program through American University.

Through this program, I am taking an American Politics I Seminar, an elective course called Political Communication, and interning three days a week at the United States Department of Education in the Office of Legislation and Congressional Affairs. There are four interns in my office and each of us has an area of education policy we specialize in. Inspired by the Public Policy and Law Title IX course I took at Trinity last fall, my focus area is higher education policy.

Both of my classes are not lectures. Rather, they are a mix of lecture, seminar-style discussions, and guest speakers. On October 17th, my American Politics I Seminar had the pleasure of going to the United States Supreme Court where Justice Ginsburg was our class guest speaker. How my professor—along with the professor of the Justice & Law Seminar—was able to organize this incredible opportunity for us, I will never know.

Justice Ginsburg spoke to us in the East Conference room of the Supreme Court. Everything in that room, from the divine ceiling to the windows overlooking a terrace garden, was magnificent. My class of 20 students from colleges across the country, along with the 20 students from the Justice & Law Seminar, sat perched in our seats waiting for Justice Ginsburg to arrive.

We were nervous and excited at the same time. We all stood as she entered the room. After telling us to be seated, she began talking about all of the portraits of a few past Chief Justices around the room. Finally, she told us she would take three questions which she later extended to four.

Each student had a question prepared, yet we were all extremely nervous to stand up, introduce ourselves, and ask one of the greatest legal minds a question. Knowing that I was in the front row and had a good chance to be picked and that I would always regret if I did not raise my hand, I shot my arm in the air. I ended up being one of the four people that got to ask Justice Ginsburg a question.

Due to my interests, I knew that I wanted to ask her a question about Title IX. More specifically, I wanted to ask her about due process, or lack thereof, during Title IX investigations on college campuses. Yet, because we could not ask anything too recent, I had to scale my question back. I ended up asking Justice Ginsburg how one applies intermediate scrutiny to a Title IX investigation—a question my professor helped me craft.

Ultimately, I wish I could say that I remember asking my question. The second I stood up, I was full of such adrenaline and awe, that all of my thoughts went out the window. My classmates say I was poised and my question was coherent but I am merely taking their word on that. Through my question and another of the other three students, Justice Ginsburg talked about how gender discrimination and the role of women in law has changed so greatly over time.

I am so grateful that I took part in the Washington Semester Program. I am even more grateful that Trinity’s Public Policy & Law program made me confident enough to sit in the front row, raise my hand, and ask a Supreme Court Justice a legal question.

The podium wherefrom Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke to Brooke and other students.

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