Advocacy for Underdogs: Policy, Politics and Justice
Public advocates -- advocates on matters of concern to the public at large -- often face big, important issues with few resources against almost overwhelming odds. We find ourselves battling large businesses, governments, or entire industries to stop a polluting mine, to restart a community's access to clean drinking water, or to restore voting rights. Yet in many cases, we somehow find a way to win. How is that possible? That is the question we will explore in this class. We will look at a series of case studies of successful and unsuccessful public advocacy campaigns that employed a wide variety of advocacy tools: media, organizing, lobbying, and litigation. The case studies will be drawn from civil rights, worker rights, democracy protection, and environmental campaigns. Students also will develop their own case studies and share them with the class. In the process, we will cover quite a bit of public interest law; every case will be grounded in statutes and common law, and many of them include significant litigation. As a class, we will explore why certain advocacy campaigns worked, why others didn?t, who benefited from the victories and who suffered from the losses. As the semester progresses, we will develop rules and guidelines for good advocacy and a list of questions for good advocates to consider, culminating in a model for public advocacy.
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