Andy Burness Photo

Andy Burness

Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy


This is a communications course focused on the practical skills necessary to influence policy. The course starts from the premise that policy experts -from government officials to civil servants to lobbyists to think tank scholars to NGO leaders and advocates must be skilled at more than policy development. Effective leaders must be skilled communicators and translators of technical information to non-technical public audiences that ultimately decide the fate of policy reforms .They have the power to be accelerants on the fire of change, and this course will teach you how to exercise that power..

This class will introduce students to the field of Social Change Communications, and will cover a wide range of strategies and tactics that have demonstrably moved policy in areas as diverse as anti-poverty reforms, health, education, climate change, and social justice -in the United States and around the world. The emphasis in this class is on communications-driven policy solutions to specific important problems in people’s lives, individually and collectively. We will learn strategies for increasing public awareness, but will keep our eyes on the prize: impact as measured by policy change. Students will learn through doing, which means active participation in interactive discussions and exercises, as well as the preparation of a professional-quality communications plan supporting a policy reform important to you. You will emerge empowered with skills related to communications planning, messaging, storytelling, media relations, persuasive abilities, and creative approaches for promoting social change policies in seemingly mundane forums like meetings and symposia.

This class will take place in the context of an ever-evolving communications landscape that now includes “fake news” and increasingly unvetted, but democratic news platforms.

Please note, students may not take both DPI-892 and DPI-893M for credit.