Alternative Spring Break

Policy & Practice: Your Role in Advocating for Policy Change in Washington, DC

Social, educational and human rights issues frame many of today’s most pressing debates on a local, national and global scale.  These issues are shaped by policy decisions made by elected officials, advocacy and lobbying groups, think tanks, media and private corporations. The Policy and Practice Alternative Break Experience will provide participants with a practical, real-life, inside understanding of how public policy is formulated, implemented, and enforced.  It will also introduce the skills that everyday citizens can use to advocate on important matters that impact specific communities.

The one-week experience includes an intensive combination of: (1) briefings by and discussions with policy makers and advocacy professionals; (2) debriefing-synthesis sessions; (3) group activities; and (4) relevant readings and information.  The program is conducted in Washington DC, a key center for making and influencing policy, with an orientation session on the UMass campus prior to departure.

Policy Advocacy Focus

This experience examines the process that makes policy, and the advocacy strategies and actions citizens employ to influence that process.  In order to best illustrate this, the focus of the week will be on a single policy area.  In previous years we have focused on the following areas:

2017: Refugee Rights

2018: Mass Incarceration

2019: Immigration and Asylum Seeker Rights

2020: Cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic 

2012: Environmental Racism (virtual)