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Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute

K Street sign in Washington, DC

The Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute and advanced workshops conducted by lobbying professionals are offered throughout the year. The Institute is a two-week intensive course (4 credit hours) offered in January and May in major aspects of professional lobbying and political influence. One-credit hour advanced workshops are offered regularly in specific lobbying areas such as grassroots lobbying, direct mail, interest group litigation, executive branch lobbying, and congressional testimony. (Please see Weekend Programs for course names, dates and descriptions.)

Taking advantage of its setting in the nation's capital, the Public Affairs Institute (formerly the Lobbying Institute) offers courses on the representation of organized interests to the federal government combining academic approaches with the real world of Washington lobbying. Twice a year, the Public Affairs Institute conducts a two-week workshop featuring speakers from the faculty of American University and approximately 40 prominent professional lobbyists representing corporations, trade and professional associations, public interest and other citizen groups, labor unions, as well as law and lobbying firms.

The workshop examines the full range of strategies and tactics pursued by organized interests and their lobbyists in attempting to gain access, obtain and exchange information, and influence policy makers in Congress and the executive branch. Drawing on their rich body of experiences, prominent lobbyists involved in all aspects of their profession offer lectures on such topics as direct lobbying, fundraising, the uses of different kinds of political money, various types of grassroots programs, coalition-building, advertising and public relations, and litigation strategies.

Workshop participants are divided into teams to apply this knowledge by simulating the activities of a real-life lobbying firm. Under the direction of a senior Washington lobbyist serving as a mentor, each team creates a strategic lobbying plan on an important current public policy issue for a prospective client. On the final day of the institute the student teams make a presentation of their strategic plans to a panel of faculty and lobbying professionals.

The Center offers several financial awards to help offset the costs of participating in the institutes.

AU students should see their academic adviser for information on enrolling in the institutes. There are also a limited number of seats available to non-AU students to participate in the institutes. Please fill out the non-credit application if interested.

Learn more about the PAAI sessions for the upcoming academic year.

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