Policy Advocacy Workshop

UM SPH offers many opportunities for additional learning outside the classroom. I recently attended a one-day workshop on policy advocacy.

Power mapping activity

Power mapping activity

The workshop was based on workshops last summer in Detroit that a few SPH students helped create. We had two members of the Detroit communities that had the workshops over the summer as our guest presenters. Over the summer, there were a few day-long workshops for community members, but the planning team combined everything into a one-day workshop for us. Most activities were hands-on, so we could practice the ideas we were learning that day.

Carrie Rheingans

Carrie Rheingans

My favorite session was the power mapping session, where we learned how to assess who has the power to make policy changes and how we can influence them. The group I was working with for the day was focused on a smoking intervention with smoking staff members at a hypothetical hospital. One thing that we really took home from the session was that we need to especially work on collaborating with those who aren’t necessarily on our side already and how to bring them over to our side of the issue. In the picture above, the map is set up with the y-axis showing amount of power someone has to affect the policy, and the x-axis shows how much various people are on board with the proposed polilcy change (all the way to the left are strong supporters and all the way to the right are strong opposition members).

SPH often has these types of workshops about topics that students request. Last academic year, a professor created a day-long facilitation workshop, and the students liked it so much that he created a whole course this past fall semester about facilitation in public health. Who knows – maybe we’ll have a policy advocacy course in the near future!