Bookin hopes her Harris MPP will equip her with the leadership and quantitative skills to ultimately achieve her goal of bolstering civil discourse on a national level.
Headshot of Celine Bookin
Celine Bookin

It was 2017, and the University of California Berkeley campus had just erupted in protests and clashes over the invitation of a controversial speaker to campus. "I launched the bipartisan debate series as a response to that incident," said Celine Bookin, now a first-year student at Harris. "Revitalizing respectful political discussion on campus was admittedly a challenging goal, but it seemed crucial that students could see what civil political discussion could look like."

Right before the inaugural bipartisan debate took place—which was just a few months after the campus conflict—Bookin wasn't completely at ease. "I was certainly concerned, as polite political conversation had been reduced to near extinction." Thankfully, the debate went smoothly. "There were no protests, riots, or anything after. Participants shook hands, had fantastic discourse, and remained extremely civil and cordial throughout. The subsequent debates in the series also went off without a hitch."

Bookin's passion for bridging partisan divides is one facet of her long-standing desire to see a better world. "In high school, I led a musical group where I played cello and we performed for folks in senior homes. Later, in college, I was a part of the Rotaract Club. Among other things, we knit garments for refugees and hosted fundraisers to combat illnesses such as polio."

Now, Bookin hopes her Harris Master of Public Policy will equip her with the leadership and quantitative skills to ultimately achieve her goal of bolstering civil discourse on a national level. “Harris has a wealth of quantitative classes, as well as opportunities to learn more about negotiation and compromise in policy through extracurricular activities, events, and initiatives in the broader Chicago area.

“UChicago also has a dedication to civil discourse and free speech that has been clearly demonstrated over the years,” said Bookin, who recently launched Civilitea, a civil discourse series at Harris designed to promote respectful discourse on campus.

In terms of a specific policy focus, Bookin said she is mainly interested in economic policy. "I recently served as a Research Fellow for the Pacific Research Institute, where I focused on healthcare research and economic research. I’m fascinated by ways in which policy, especially economic policy, can be used to promote economic growth."

Bookin said she's interested in exploring opposing ideas and viewpoints while at Harris and encourages others to do so as well. "There’s so much to learn, and it's important to discuss ideas, listen just as much, and ultimately find a middle point—because that’s where many people often are and where a lot of innovation can be found."