Hosting Advocacy Events around Key Issues
Science museum educators lead students in activity that builds their understanding of how to engage audiences.
Cultivating a proactive citizenry requires empowering students to move beyond analyses to action. One way to empower students is to offer opportunities for them to showcase environmental solutions or actions on campus. These might include themed events around key issues of concern to the campus or surrounding community (e.g. water, food, energy, climate). Advocacy events could be featured as a culminating event in a class, as part of Earth Day-associated events, or included within First Year or Capstone Seminars. Partnering with local groups that have interest in environmental issues may provide students with additional expertise or momentum. One goal of advocacy is to raise visibility on issues. Therefore, work to maximize attendance and publicize the event in multiple ways (e.g. student papers, university communications, social media, local news papers). Greater attendance is likely if the event time and space are secured early and if like-focused groups or classes coordinate to maximize promoting and attending the event. Also consider involving or inviting relevant decision makers (local politicians, influential community members, university leadership). Consider pitching a positive or solutions-oriented vision for the future that aligns with shared goals of participating organizations. If you are building this into your course, make sure to have at least one review of event materials before the event. The review should consider whether the materials are appropriate for the intended audience.
Advocacy Event Ideas
- TED style talks (e.g. blend of storytelling and facts) on local issues and solutions
- Letter writing event: provide template letters advocating for policy shifts. Attendees generate more letters
- Collective Action Night: multiple advocacy groups share their issues/actions and time is provided for attendees to participate in action of their choice
- Campus Environmental Issues Panel: assemble experts for a critical discussion with a Q&A session
- Interactive solutions modules
- Social Media or Citizen Science Events
Consider combining strategies and linking events to films, art, or music that draw diverse crowds. If you need help with who to include or the timing of planning and post planning activities see: Advocacy Event Planning Template (Microsoft Word 2007 (.docx) 18kB Mar16 17). Or consider Designing Courses around Issues and hosting a relevant event.
AAUW, 2016, How to Use Social Media For Advocacy
CCEP, 2016, Climate Change Education Partnership Alliance: the Climate Change Education: Effective practices for working with educators, scientists, decision makers, and the public
Engaging Scientists and Engineers in Policy Coalition, 2017, Science Outreach and Communication Toolkits
Hentchel, K., 2017, Science, What early career researchers can do to advocate for science
NAGT, 2016, Key Components of Sustainability Assignments