Evergreen MES Environmental Advocacy Seminar Syllabus

download pdf


Ted Whitesell, Ph.D., Evergreen Faculty Member   Lab I 3017, 867-6768, whiteset@evergreen.edu

Ben Shaine, Ph.D., Evergreen Resource Faculty Member  shaineb@evergreen.edu

Class times:      Wednesdays, 6–10 PM   Class location:          Seminar II, D-1105 & D-2105

Credits:            4 graduate credits



Strategic advocacy is a practical, fundamental skill for citizens and professionals who want to bring about solutions to the socio-environmental problems of our times. Teaching this skill set is the purpose of this elective. Through case studies, we will examine how efforts to influence decisions and actions taken by agencies, legislatures, corporations and nonprofits may be effectively organized and implemented. We will evaluate these cases using an analytic framework developed by faculty specifically for practicing advocacy skills. We expect that students will leave the elective able to enter a policy arena in any role with confidence, able to figure out what actions they can take to influence events effectively, ethically, and gracefully.

To our knowledge, the method we will be using to teach advocacy strategy is unique. While there are many university courses on policy development, leadership, and mediation, advocacy skills are seldom taught. Most professionals and volunteer activists acquire these skills, if they ever do, over many years of practical experience. But, reflecting on our own careers as advocates and our observations of others, we find that many – perhaps most – successful advocates intuitively use similar techniques for understanding and acting. From our reflections and observations, we have developed a framework that explicitly lays out questions to ask when participating in a contentious situation. We will explain that framework in the elective. You will have the opportunity to practice using it on cases assembled by faculty, and discussed in class with guests who have been participants in these cases.


Seminars, Workshops and Lectures

This class is conceived as a graduate seminar first and foremost, meaning that most of our class time will be spent in collegial discussions and exercises, working together to understand, analyze, and practice utilizing the material we are studying. Lectures will be provided as well, by the instructors and by various guests who have been central participants in cases we are studying.


The term project is to research, write and present orally your strategic analysis and recommendations for effective engagement in a contentious policy situation of your choice, preferably one you have been involved in personally. Papers will vary in length, up to a maximum of 20 pages. Presentations are scheduled for weeks 9 and 10. More details will be provided in a separate set of instructions and guidelines.

Required Texts

Most reading will be posted on the course Moodle site. There will also be two required books:

Paul Hansen. 2013. Green in Gridlock: Common goals, common ground, and compromise. Texas A&M University Press.

Brock Evans. 2014. Fight & Win: Brock Evans’s Strategies for the New Eco-warrior. [NOTE: Students will receive a complimentary copy of this book.]

Credit and Evaluation

Partial credit is not awarded in the MES Program. Full credit will be awarded based upon attendance, punctuality, participation, and submission of all assignments on time. To be excused due to illness, etc., contact the instructors as soon as you know that you will have a problem meeting these expectations. Depending upon the reason, you may or may not be excused. Credit will be jeopardized if there are unexcused absences, a pattern of tardiness, lack of participation on a regular basis, and failure to submit all assignments on time. All students are required to participate in an evaluation conference during the 11th week, after having posted a self-evaluation and a faculty evaluation via my.evergreen.edu. (Alternatively, you have the option at my.evergreen.edu to withhold access by faculty to your evaluation until the faculty has filed the evaluation of your work.) A program evaluation would also be appreciated.


(Pay attention to details for each class on Moodle, including assigned readings for each class.)

April 2

  • Introductions of course, faculty, and students, with presentation/discussion of student advocacy experiences, interests & goals
  • Introduction of strategic advocacy framework (Assignment: read this ahead of time)
  • Initial discussion of Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (Assignment: read this ahead of time)

April 9

  • CIVIL RIGHTS CASES: Albany/Birmingham campaigns
  • Legislative strategy: combining “push” (protest/direct action) and “invite” tactics
  • Presentation/discussion of student term project ideas (Assignment: Come prepared with well formulated term project ideas.)


  • Assigned Readings:
  1. Chapter 4 (pp. 77-98) from Drawing Lines in the Forest: Creating Wilderness Areas in the Pacific Northwest by Kevin Marsh (UW Press, 2007). This is posted on Moodle. The entire book is also available online via the Evergreen library’s “ebrary.”
  2. Defending Wild Washington: A Citizen’s Action Guide, chapters 5 & 15
  3. Green in Gridlock, Introduction + chapters 7 & 12
  • Due: Student term project descriptions (see additional instructions on Moodle)


  • Discussion of assigned readings with case participant, Ben Shaine
  • Campus Earth Day discussion, using the strategic advocacy framework to understand the activities of groups participating in Earth Day at Evergreen. (You are encouraged to help with Earth Day ahead of time; contact Abigail Arnold of the Evergreen Conservation Corps, at arnabi07@evergreen.edu or greenercon@gmail.com.)


  • From 9:30 to 12:00 on Tuesday, April 29 in Longhouse 1007A, we will be joining the “American Frontiers, Homelands, and Empire” program, which will be hosting Native treaty rights leader Hank Adams (http://nwifc.org/2006/01/hank-adams-wins-indian-country-todays-american-indian-visionary-award/) After screening Carol Burns’ 1971 documentary “As Long as the Rivers Run” (http://salmondefense.org/projects/as-long-as-the-rivers-run/) from 9:30 to 10:30, Mr. Adams will lead discussion from 10:40 to 12:00, with his memories of the treaty struggle and its present-day legacies.
  • On Wednesday, April 30, from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, we will meet in our regular classroom for discussion of assigned readings posted on Moodle. (Class is shortened to compensate for the extra class on Tuesday.)

May 7: CAPITOL LAKE CASE (discussion of assigned readings with guest Senator Karen Fraser, preceded by discussion of Green in Gridlock, via Skype, with the author)

  • Assigned Readings:
  1. Green in Gridlock, chapters 3, 6, 8, 9, 11, & 16
  2. Capitol Lake readings posted on Moodle

May 14:    1) Skype with Brock Evans, followed by seminar (Fight & Win, pp. 1-116, 137-145, and two articles on Moodle)

2) Aikido session, followed by peer review of draft term project memos

 May 21: WASHINGTON COAL PORT CASE (discussion of assigned readings with guests Beth Doglio, Climate Solutions Campaign Director and Regional Director of Power Past Coal, and Kim Marks of Greenpeace PNW)

May 28: Research presentations and discussions

June 4: Research presentations, discussions, and assessment of lessons learned this quarter

June 10 (Tuesday): Evaluation Conferences

%d bloggers like this: