Democracy Owner’s Manual: Curricula Material

Using The Democracy Owner’s Manual: Suggested Classroom Curricula on Public Policy & Advocacy

 

The Democracy Owners’ Manual was written with students in mind. The author, Jim Shultz, has taught political science, policy analysis, and public administration to both undergraduates and graduate students at San Francisco State University and the book draws from the curricula used in those courses. Below are a set of curricula modules from the basic to the more advanced which can be incorporated into university courses dealing with political science, public health, social work, environmental studies, urban studies and many other areas. Comments and questions are welcome, sent to: contact@democracyctr.org.

 

Modules

 

Policy Analysis

Policy analysis is a methodology for examining public problems and designing appropriate solutions. It is a way of breaking down complex issues into simpler questions that can be researched and evaluated. It is a skill that is not difficult to learn and which can be of great, life-long benefit to professionals in many fields and to citizens in general.

Module One (Basic Policy Analysis):

Appropriate for undergraduates not majoring in policy fields or for advanced high school students. Assign students an article from a school or local newspaper which discusses some local public problem (waste disposal, parking, gang violence, youth unemployment, inadequate parks, etc.). Individually or in small groups have students write or discuss answers to the following questions:

  1. What exactly is the problem being discussed?
  2. What additional information would you need to know about the problem?
  3. What might be two or three different ways of addressing the problem?
  4. What are the pros and cons of each of the alternative solutions you have identified?
  5. What solution would you choose?

Assigned Reading: Research and Analysis (pps. 83-95)

Additional Suggestion: After the class has finished the assignment, invite the writer of the newspaper article to come and speak to the class and take questions.

Module Two (Advanced Policy Analysis):

Appropriate for undergraduates and graduates in policy-related fields.
Assign students an article from a newspaper, magazine, or journal which discusses a policy issue relevant to their field (i.e. class size in education, superfund clean-up in environmental studies, welfare reform in social work, the uninsured in public health, etc.). Individually or in small groups have students write answers to the following questions:

  1. Define the policy problem being discussed. Why is it a problem? Why is it a public problem? Who does it affect and how?
  2. What additional information would you need to assess the problem (data, personal stories, analysis, etc.)? What would be your primary methods and sources for obtaining this information?
  3. What might be the most basic alternative methods of addressing the problem? Where would you look for these alternatives?
  4. What are the pros and cons of each of the alternative solutions you have identified? What are their limits in terms of solving the problem, their cost implications, and their political implications?
  5. What solution would you recommend and why, taking into account the pro/con analysis from the question above?

Assigned Reading: Research and Analysis (pps. 83-95) and, as appropriate to the policy issue involved:

  • What is Government’s Job?(pps. 7-16);
  • The Rules of Politics (pps. 17-29);
  • Taxes and Budgets (pps. 30-43);
  • Making Rules for Business and the Marketplace (44-57); and
  • Civil Rights and Criminal Wrongs (pps. 58-67).

Additional Suggestion: After the class has finished the assignment, invite a researcher, advocate, or policy maker in the field to come and speak to the class and take questions.

Module Three (Major Paper or Term Assignment):

Appropriate for undergraduates or graduates in policy-related fields.
Have each student select an instructor-approved policy issue relevant to his or her field (i.e. class size in education, superfund clean-up in environmental studies, welfare reform in social work, the uninsured in public health, etc.). Have students develop a full policy analysis paper to include the following components:

  1. A clear problem definition including: Why is it a problem? Why is it a public problem? Who does it affect and how?
  2. Thorough research of the problem using government information sources, advocacy group sources, academic research, and other available resources on the topic. The research should include both a literature search and some interviews with people in the field. It should also include some evaluation and critique of that information (in terms of methodology, etc.).
  3. The development of at least three distinct alternative methods of addressing the problem.
  4. An assessment of each of the alternatives presented, including the limits of each in terms of solving the problem, their cost implications, and their political implications.
  5. A suggested policy solution and the rationale behind it.

Assigned Reading: Research and Analysis (pps. 83-95) and, as appropriate to the policy issue involved: What is Government’s Job? (pps. 7-16); The Rules of Politics (pps. 17-29); Taxes and Budgets (pps. 30-43); Making Rules for Business and the Marketplace (44-57); and Civil Rights and Criminal Wrongs (pps. 58-67).

Additional Suggestion: Have students identify an organization or public official who would be the student’s client and to whom the student’s paper would be addressed as a memo or report.

 

Policy Advocacy

Policy advocacy is an important skill in many fields. Social workers and public health workers should know how to affect the public policies that affect their clients and patients and know how to involve them in that process. People working on environmental matters, education, children’s services and related areas also need to know the art of making policy change. Students in political science need to understand not only how public officials change policy, but how citizens do as well.

Module Four (Basic Advocacy):

Appropriate for undergraduates not majoring in policy fields or for advanced high school students.

Assign students an article from a school or local newspaper which discusses some local public problem (waste disposal, parking, gang violence, youth unemployment, inadequate parks, etc.). Individually or in small groups have students develop a basic advocacy strategy for doing something about the problem, answering the following questions:

  1. What is your objective? What change are you trying to win?
  2. Who do you need to move? Who actually has the authority to deliver what it is you want?
  3. Who else (what people and institutions) are likely to influence their decision?
  4. What kinds of people and groups do you need to get on your side?
  5. What is your message?
  6. Who is likely to be against you and what will you do about them?
  7. What kind of actions will you and your allies take to try to persuade whomever you have decided it is you need to persuade?

Assigned Reading: Developing a Strategy (pps. 71-82)

Additional Suggestion: After the class has finished the assignment, invite an activist involved in the issue to come and speak to the class and take questions.

Module Five (Advanced Advocacy):

Appropriate for undergraduates and graduates in policy-related fields.

Assign students an article from a newspaper, magazine or journal which discusses a policy issue relevant to their field (i.e. class size in education, superfund clean-up in environmental studies, welfare reform in social work, the uninsured in public health, etc.). Individually or in small groups have students develop answers to one or more of the following questions:

  1. What is your objective? How much should you seek to win and why?
  2. Who is your primary audience, the person or institution with the authority to deliver what it is you want? How are they likely to react to your proposal?
  3. Who are your most important secondary audiences (media, other groups, etc.) and how are they likely to react to your proposal?
  4. What kind of coalition and alliances do you need to form? How would you recruit these allies? What resources will your coalition need and what groups would likely bring those to the table on your issue? What tensions will likely result from bringing that coalition together?
  5. What is your advocacy message and why?
  6. Who is your opposition? What will their strategy be and how might you counter it?
  7. What kind of actions will you and your coalition use? What actions won’t you use? Why?
  8. How will you evaluate your strategy to see if it is working?

Assigned Reading: Developing a Strategy (pps. 71-82) and, as appropriate to the topics each student is being asked to cover: Research and Analysis (pps. 83-95); Organizing (pps. 96-119); Building and Maintaining Advocacy Coalitions (pps. 120-131); Messages and Media (132-156); Lobbying (pps. 157-179); and Initiatives (180-196); The Internet (pps. 197-212).

Additional Suggestion: After the class has finished the assignment, invite an advocate in the field to come and speak to the class and take questions.

Module Six (Major Paper or Term Assignment):

Appropriate for undergraduates or graduates in policy-related fields.
Have each student select an instructor-approved model advocacy campaign relevant to their field (i.e. class size in education, superfund clean-up in environmental studies, welfare reform in social work, the uninsured in public health, etc.). Have students develop a full advocacy strategy paper to include the following components:

  1. What is your objective? How much should you seek to win and why?
  2. Who is your primary audience, the person or institution with the authority to deliver what it is you want? How are they likely to react to your proposal?
  3. Who are your most important secondary audiences (media, other groups, etc.) and how are they likely to react to your proposal?
  4. What kind of coalition and alliances do you need to form? How would you recruit these allies? What resources will your coalition need and what groups would likely bring those to the table on your issue? What tensions will likely result from bringing that coalition together?
  5. What is your advocacy message and why?
  6. Who is your opposition? What will their strategy be and how might you counter it?
  7. What kind of actions will you and your coalition use? What actions won’t you use? Why?
  8. How will you evaluate your strategy to see if it is working?

Assigned Reading: Developing a Strategy (pps. 71-82); Research and Analysis (pps. 83-95); Organizing (pps. 96-119); Building and Maintaining Advocacy Coalitions (pps. 120-131); Messages and Media (132-156); Lobbying (pps. 157-179); and Initiatives (180-196); The Internet (pps. 197-212).

Additional Suggestion: Have students identify an organization who would be the student’s client and to whom the student’s paper would be addressed as a memo or report.

 

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