Polak Appointed as Professor of the Practice

Posted August 16, 2022

Michael Polak has taught POL 2101: State and Local Government for almost 10 years as an adjunct professor. This semester, he will lead the class for the first time as a professor of the practice in the School of Public Policy. Polak and Judge Leigh Martin May are the first two professors of the practice to teach courses in the School.

Polak, IE 1984, first began teaching the course in 2013 after instructing a similar course at what was formerly Armstrong State University, now a part of Georgia Southern University. As a former state legislator, he wanted to give Georgia Tech students the chance to dive into issues affected by state and local policymaking. Now, students in POL 2101 spend the semester pinpointing an issue that’s important to them, finding a potential solution, and then advocating for it. 

Throughout the years, Polak has seen interest in his course grow — not only from students but from government officials as well. 

“Traditionally, my POL 2101 students have reached out to elected officials for help on their policy papers. I now have elected officials reaching out to me, asking for help from my students on their policy priorities,” Polak said. “That is a prime example of the respect senators, representatives, and other local policy leaders have in the problem-solving abilities of our Georgia Tech students.” 

Polak will also teach POL 1101: Government of the United States as part of this new role, and he is looking forward to connecting with even more students across campus. 

“I have always loved John Lewis’ mantra, ‘good trouble,’” Polak said. “My goal is to combine my students’ passion for change with the confidence and knowledge of the policy-making process to make ‘good trouble’ in every class I teach.” 

Read more about POL 2101 and the results some students have seen from their advocacy efforts. 

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Grace Wyner

Communications Officer

School of Public Policy | Sam Nunn School of International Affairs