Washington Center

Activism, Protest and the Politics of Change

Term or Semester: 
Day and Time: 
Tuesdays, 6:30pm - 9:30pm
Semester Dates: 
August 27 - December 3, 2019
Semester Elective

How does social and political change happen in Washington? What strategies and techniques do underdogs use to take on entrenched and established powers in the nation’s capital? Making real change is difficult. Yet, there are several examples of successful social movements in American history and politics that came to Washington and effectively changed the course of the nation's politics and history. This class will explore the history and stories of grassroots mobilization and advocacy on the national stage. By observing advocacy events and interacting with guest speakers, students will learn about the successes—and failures—of social groups’ efforts to make lasting change in American politics and society. The class will read about, discuss, and debate the dynamics of protest and advocacy and meet with advocacy leaders and activists to discuss the strategies used to pressure decision makers—sometimes successfully and sometimes not— for political outcomes. They will learn about agenda setting and messaging; as well as techniques used to influence the debate such as protests, advocacy campaigns, petitions, and electoral lobbying. Students will learn about and discuss which types of groups and 2 leaders engage in which strategies, and at what stage of the policy process they are most likely to be effective based upon the context of their particular policy or political goals. Students who successfully complete this course will be able to identify the actors who participate in grassroots action and how their efforts can translate into policy. Students will also meet with advocacy leaders directly to better understand the various sides of important social and political issues, and assess the effectiveness—or not—of individual social movement.


Draft Syllabus

Course ID: