Advocacy Syllabus

This graduate course looks at the theory and practice of issue and advocacy campaigns. GW specific information has been removed from the below.



Instructor: Peter Loge

“The world is still in want of clear-headed citizens, tempered by historical perspective, disciplined by rational thinking and moral compass, who speak well and write plainly.”

  • Lee Pelton, President of Emerson College

This course will look at the theory and practice of issue and advocacy campaigns.

You will be expected to do the readings, think about their connections to events in politics, and participate in class discussions.  Quality of insight is better than quantity of words, and challenging questions and questioning of assumptions is always more interesting than just tagging along. 

The success or failure of this class rests largely on you and your colleagues.  If you listen closely to your peers, make unexpected connections, and take intellectual risks, the fall will be a very interesting conversation.


By the fifth class you will need to have selected an advocacy campaign or issue on which you will spend the fall. You should pick a topic about which you could realistically develop and run a campaign this fall or in the very near future, for example getting a state to increase to fund a local transportation initiative or persuading a federal agency to take an action. This campaign will be the subject of two of your three essays and your final paper.


Anything that happens in class is fair game for exams.

The midterm exam will be in class. The exam will include short answers and an essay.

The final exam will be a take home essay.


You will have three short essays and a major final paper.

The short essays should be no more than two pages, typed and double spaced. I stop reading at the bottom of the second page. Extreme efforts to extend margins or shrink fonts will be penalized. The short essay topics are noted below in the syllabus – one is on ethics, the other two are tied to your final paper.

The final paper should be in the15 – 20 page range (no hard minimum or maximum). In this paper you will explain your strategic approach to your advocacy campaign.

Papers are due by the start of class. No late papers will be accepted.


You are expected to constructively add to the conversation, which means you should do, think about, and be prepared to talk about the readings.  You are also expected to pay attention to the political world around you and think about it in terms of the course.  You should have ideas and opinions and be able to defend them. 

You will not be rewarded for just talking a lot.



On Writing Well by William Zinsser

Available in most decent bookstores and online

Agendas and Instability in American Politics by Frank R. Baumgartner and Bryan D. Jones, University of Chicago Press 1993 (any edition)

Other readings are listed in the course schedule below. In addition I may email articles or essays during the week that strike me as interesting. 

Suggested Reading and Resources:
Planning to Win, Spitfire Strategies

The Goodman Center – and Free Range Thinking –

Hatch for Good –

Frameworks Institute –

Organizing: People, Power, Change (Ganz) and the Organizing Handbook –

The Campaign Workshop –

M+R Strategic Services –

The Management Center –


You have several ethical responsibilities in this course.  This is a small group, in a small space, for several hours at a time.  For this adventure to work for all of us, each of us needs to do the readings and think about them.  We must respect each other’s positions on the readings, and honor intellectual experiments (the “what if….” positions); that means people should be willing and able to change their minds, to defend their positions, and challenge the positions of others.  Critically, one should never confuse an argument with the person making the argument – positions are not people. This means you should not attack people, only their claims and you should do so based on reasoning.  Similarly, you should defend your positions as if they were ideas to be kicked around, not children to be protected.

Cheating and plagiarizing are not acceptable.  They will be punished to the greatest extent permitted by The George Washington University policy.  All exams, papers, and other work products are to be completed in conformance with The George Washington University Code of Academic Integrity.


I work from the premise that you are all adults.  I don’t take attendance, but you are responsible for everything that happens in class.  If you miss a session, you should find a colleague from whom to get notes, readings, etc.  

There may be guest speakers and the schedule of readings and discussions may change.

You can call or email any time, but calling before 7am and after 10pm will likely do you more harm than good.


Jan 16             Introduction.

                        The course in an hour

Jan 23             FIRST ESSAY DUE: What ethical responsibility, if any, do you have as an advocate?

Reminder: Your paper may be no longer than two double spaced pages. I will stop reading at the bottom of the second page. No late papers will be accepted.

Discuss the ethics of advocacy

Read: Protagoras by Plato, available at and elsewhere.

Jan 30             Discuss – Aristotle and the foundations of advocacy

Read: Aristotle’s Rhetoric  Book I, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, and Book II, Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24 available at and elsewhere.

Feb 6               Discuss: Advocacy as Campaigning

Read: “Stop Raising Awareness Already” Ann Christiano and Annie Neimand, Stanford Social Innovation Review Spring 2017

“Policy Entrepreneurship and Policy Change” Michael Mintrom and Phillipa Norman The Policy Studies Journal 2009 Vol 37 No 4 pp 649 – 667

“Mickey Goes to Washington” Jeffrey H. Birnbaum Washington Post Magazine Feb 17, 2008

Feb 13             SECOND ESSAY DUE: Advocacy paper topic – For what are you advocating this fall?

Discuss Lobbying

Read: “Lobbying as Legislative Subsidy”

Richard L. Hall and Alan V. Deardorff, American Political Science Review, Vol 100 No 1, Feb 2006 pp 69 – 84

“Partners in Advocacy: Lobbyists and Government Officials in Washington” Christine Mahoney and Frank R. Baumgartner Journal of Politics 2015 Vol 77 No 1, pp 202-215

Feb 20             Discuss policy framing and agenda setting

Read: Agendas and Instability in American Politics Chapters 1,2,3, and 6

“A Change of Mind or a Change of Focus: A theory of choice reversals in politics” Bryan D. Jones Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory Vol 4 No 2, April 1994, pp 141-177

Feb 27             Discuss mini case studies

Read: Agendas and Instability in American Politics Chapters 4,5

“Not For Profit Advocacy: Challenging Policy Images and Pursuing Policy Change” Shannon Vaughan and Shelly Arseneault Review of Policy Research Vol. 25 Issue 5, Sept 2, 2008 pp 411-428

“Win the Debate, Not Just the Case” Linda Greenhouse, The New York Times July 14, 2002

March 6          MID TERM EXAM

March 13        NO CLASS: SPRING BREAK

March 20        Discuss protests and marches

Read: “Yes, marches can make a difference. It depends on these three factors.” Shom Mazumder The Monkey Cage Jan 27, 2017

“Is there any point to protesting?” Nathan Heller The New Yorker Aug 21, 2017

“The Political Consequences of Social Movements” Edwin Amenta, Neal Caren, Elizabeth Chiarello, Yang Su Annual Review of Sociology 2010 Vol 36, pp-287-307 (??)

March 27        Discuss social media

Read: “What Makes Online Content Go Viral?” Jonah Berger and Katherine L. Milkman Journal of Marketing Research (pre print publication)

“Sharing beyond Slacktivism: the effect of socially observable prosocial media sharing on subsequent offline helping behavior” Daniel S. Lane and Sonya Dal Sin Information Communication and Society July 2017

“Analytic Audiences” Prof. Dave Karpf

M+R Toolshed social media tools (you can also read the fundraising tools, but we will not be discussing those)

April 3            Discuss traditional media

Read: “The Great Divide: Campaign Media in the American Mind” Diana Mutz Deadalus Vol 141 No 4 2012

April 10          Discuss pop culture

Read: “Archie Bunker’s Bigotry: A Study in Selective Perception and Exposure” Neil Vidmar and Milton Rokeach Journal of Communication  Winter 1974

“The Designated Driver Campaign: Why it worked” Jay Winsten, HuffPost

“Can Transgender TV Characters Help Bridge an Ideological Divide?” Erica L. Rosenthal and Traci Gillig, The Conversation Aug 8, 2017

“West Wing Babies” Julie Weiner Vanity Fair April 2012

April 17          THIRD ESSAY DUE: Outline of final paper – What is your goal, who has power over the goal, what does power find persuasive, from whom does power find it persuasive?

Putting it all together

Read: “Planning to Win” and “Smart Chart 3.0” from Spitfire Strategies (the other tools are also worth perusing)

“We Will Not Conform Action Plan” from Freedom Works                    

April 24          The Management side of Issue Campaign Management

A pretty good idea that is well executed beats great ideas that are poorly executed. Invest in learning to manage.



Final Exam due at the end of the scheduled final exam period for the class