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Community-Based Policy Advocacy


Credits: 3
Prerequisites: SW 560/permission of instructor
Faculty Approval Date: 09/03/2014

Course Description

Community-based policy advocacy will be presented as an empowering process that helps to strengthen intra-group and inter-group solidarity as it challenges and attempts to change oppressive structures, systems, and institutions. In contrast to viewing advocacy in the traditional sense -- as a means by which experts represent group interests in legislative, judicial, and executive settings -- this course will explore ways through which traditionally excluded groups advocate for themselves and, in so doing, help build organizations and develop communities.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to:
1. Describe the relationship between contemporary social and political issues and advocacy strategies and tactics. (Practice Behaviors 9.CO, 9.SPE)
2. Describe the role of intra-group, inter-group, and political dynamics in the policy advocacy process and their relationship to issues of power, privilege, social justice, and resource distribution. (Practice Behavior 5.CO, 5.SPE)
3. Analyze alternative models, strategies, tactics, and modes of advocacy in terms of their suitability to achieve specific policy goals. (Practice Behavior 3.CO, 3.SPE)
4. Apply skills in planning and conducting advocacy campaigns, mobilizing communities in policy advocacy, and evaluating the results of advocacy efforts. (Practice Behaviors 1.CO, 1.SPE, 10.c.CO, 10.c.SPE, 10.d.CO, 10.d.SPE)
5. Identify and incorporate within advocacy campaigns attention to issues related to a range of diversity dimensions such as race, gender, ethnicity, social class, sexual orientation, and other characteristics associated with privilege, discrimination, domination, and oppression. (Practice Behavior 5.CO, 5.SPE)
6. Identify and analyze value and ethical dilemmas that arise in the course of policy advocacy work. (Practice Behaviors 1.CO, 1.SPE, 2.CO, 2.SPE)
7. Describe the process of policy development including the use of key terms. (Practice Behaviors 6.CO, 6.SPE)
8. Assess policy environments (e.g., bureaucratic, fiscal, legislative, community) and analyze complex systems (e.g., for issue identification and option generation). (Practice Behaviors 9.CO, 9.SPE, 10.b.CO, 10.b.SPE)
9. Explain various advocacy roles (e.g., political, scientific, and ideological). (Practice Behaviors 9.CO, 9.SPE)
10. Prepare policy advocacy documents and demonstrate skill in developing written policies (e.g., drafting legislation, writing guidelines and administrative regulations). (Practice Behavior 10.c.CO, 10.c.SPE)
11. Apply techniques of education and persuasion, such as media advocacy, lobbying, testifying, popular education and building advocacy coalitions. (Practice Behavior 1.CO, 1.SPE, 10.a.CO, 10.a.SPE)
12. Describe linkages between local, state, national and international advocacy (Practice Behaviors 9.CO, 9.SPE)
13. Contribute to the development of a climate in the classroom in which everyone can (a) experiment with new skills; (b) explore their own multicultural competence and the implications of one's own background for developing and implementing social and political action strategies; (c) consult with each other on advocacy projects and assignments; & (d) generate plans and strategies for future learning and development. (Practice Behaviors 1.CO, 1.SPE, 4.CO, 4.SPE, 10.a.CO, 10.a.SPE)


The course will revolve around the development, implementation, and evaluation of students' group advocacy projects. The specific knowledge and skills required to engage in these projects will be presented through lectures, class discussion/analysis of assigned readings, class exercises and simulations, and group problem-solving activities. Speakers and videos will be used to augment other course materials where appropriate and feasible.

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