We’re in the middle of a very busy second year at the Media Advocacy graduate program, a collaboration between the School of Law and the School of Journalism at Northeastern University. Here’s what our talented students have been up to.

Experiential advocacy

Designed to help students develop deep knowledge of the strategies and tactics that constitute effective advocacy, our course Media Advocacy in Theory and Practice first investigated various ideas, frameworks, and histories relating to advocacy and activism, helping to inform media strategies of the future. Some of the texts read in class include:

  • Networks of Outrage and Hope, Manuel Castells
  • Analytic Activism, David Karpf
  • Prototype Politics, Daniel Kreiss
  • Don’t Think of an Elephant!, George Lakoff
  • Twitter and Tear Gas, Zeynep Tufekci

Students then partnered with local nonprofits such as United South End Settlements, Everyday Boston, Mujeres Unidas Avanzado, Little Brothers-Friends of the Elderly and Round Table. Those partnerships empowered students to help clients with their policy advocacy, organizing, communications, marketing, and storytelling needs.

In addition to the practical work as strategic media consultants to local nonprofit organizations, graduate students also researched case studies of advocacy campaigns, applying their theoretical knowledge to analyze real-world campaigns. Subjects of these research papers included:

  • #MeToo: A Case Study in Social Media Campaigning
  • Creating an Online Flock: “Invest in the Nest” and a Case of Successful Digital Campaigning
  • Floridians for Amendment 4: A Case Study in Digital Storytelling as a Campaign Strategy
  • Who Is “Fight for 15”?: A Study in SEIU’s Political Targeting
Shorenstein fellow and Northeastern associate professor Sarah Jackson speaks with Media Advocacy students in Fall 2018.

Learning to think like a lawyer

Our introductory law course, Law, Policy and Legal Argument taught by Dan Urman, explored the legal levers that drive policy change and introduced students to the mechanisms of government that drive key policy debates across a wide range of issues, including health care, market regulation, environmental policy, housing, education, the internet, privacy, and social policy. Some of the readings included:

  • Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed, David Cole
  • The Hollow Hope: Can Courts Bring About Social Change, Gerald Rosenberg
  • Everything You Need to Know About American Law, Jay Fineman

Students met with leading attorneys in the private, public, and non-profit sectors, and learned about advocacy tools inside and outside of the courtroom.  They also read legal documents from notable cases, drafted case briefs and legal advocacy assignments such as an advocacy strategy paper, and drafted op-eds for the public at large.


Running a legal design workshop

In September 2018, in partnership with Northeastern’s NuLawLab and the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project, a team of four Media Advocacy graduate students participated in the development of a public awareness campaign that will launch in January 2019 in the south Bronx related to the Right to Counsel, a new law guaranteeing certain New Yorkers representation in housing court.

Over four days, students observed housing court, met with housing advocates and community organizers, interviewed various stakeholders and designed a multi-pronged public awareness campaign.

Media Advocacy student Alanna Fusco presents before representatives from the Right to Counsel coalition and the Urban Justice Center.