Policy Advocacy and Social Change

Policy advocacy is a process that occurs when groups of people attempt to change or influence the activities of governments, corporations, or other organizations. Policy advocacy also occurs when groups work to change the way policy-making takes place, or when they organize to see an existing policy implemented.

This summer institute offers an introduction to policy advocacy for students, new campaigners, and more experienced advocates. Participants new to the process will gain some basic tools to help develop effective strategies and tactics for promoting social change. The institute also offers more experienced participants a framework within which to reflect upon their practice, and gives all participants an opportunity to bring reflective practice into their own lives and organizations.

Join Dr. Teresa Healy in an intensive, hands-on workshop in which you will be invited to:

  • Locate the role of policy advocacy within broader social justice strategies;
  • Identify and develop awareness of key elements in policy advocacy;
  • Compare policy advocacy campaigns from different contexts;
  • Deepen your capacity to engage in experiential learning;
  • Clarify your own values and approach to social change;
  • Develop practical tools for conveying your messages more effectively.

The Summer Institute will be delivered by means of case studies, guest presentations, group work, digital content and readings. Students will be asked to complete selected reading and viewings in advance of and during the workshop.


Day One: Thursday May 28th, 7-10:00pm

  • Advocates, Advocacy and Social Change

What is advocacy? We will begin with participants’ experiences and perspectives and identify different approaches to social change. We will examine how advocates emerge and how their capacities are built within organizations and social movements. Participants will form case study groups.

 Day Two: Friday May 29th 9am- 5pm

  • Morning Session: Context and Policy

Participants will examine the context within which policy advocacy takes place. We will explore the way advocates determine the problem they will focus on, come to understand its causes, and arrive at a process of goal setting.

  • Afternoon session: Reflection on Experience

We will be joined by a panel of practitioners who will share their experiences of policy advocacy with us.  Working in groups, participants will develop their case studies and will present on these themes: “Advocates”, “Context” and “Policy”.

Day Two: Saturday May 30th, 9am- 4pm

  • Morning session: Institutional Power and Strategy

This morning will be devoted to an examination of formal and non-formal power as expressed in specific contexts.  This will be followed by a discussion of strategic considerations related to the case studies. 

  • Afternoon session: Approaches to Communication and Evaluation

We will explore the ways policy advocates educate, persuade, reach out, reach in, mobilize, lobby, negotiate and lead. We will discuss the role of ongoing monitoring, evaluation and learning in this process.  Students will conclude their cases studies with a presentation on “Politics”, “Strategy” and “Learning”.

Presented by the Carleton University Institute of Political Economy and Department of Political Science

Date and time:

7:00pm-10:00pm | Thursday, May 28th

9:00am-5:00pm | Friday, May 29th

9:00am-4:00pm | Saturday, May 30th

Location: Carleton University, Room 101 Paterson Hall

Enrolment Fee: The registration fee for the seminar is $350.00 plus HST per person. A limited number of spaces for Masters students and Non-Profit Organizations were offered at a reduced rate, but these spaces are now full. However, if any of these participants cancel their reservation, we will apply that discount to the next qualified registrant. The registration fee includes two days of instruction, coffee breaks and lunches.

Workshop leaderDr. Teresa Healy

Registration is now closed.