October 09, 2013
New Hampshrie Institute of Politics
The New Hampshire Institute of Politics & Political Library's Kevin Harrington Student Ambassadors John Pearson, politics '14 and Jeff Laskey, politics '14, attended the annual National Campaign for Political and Civic Engagement conference on "Tools for Effective Advocacy" at the Harvard Institute of Politics Oct. 4 - 6.
More than 50 students from 25 schools from across the country participate in the National Consortium at Harvard. The consortium was founded as a way to link colleges and universities with similar civic engagement initiatives to share ideas and begin national conversations around the importance of political engagement, particularly among millennials.
"The experience was an excellent opportunity to meet with other students who want to work in the political field upon graduating from their respective schools. It is encouraging to see that students are still focused on serving the public as political advisors, public officials, or civil servants, which are needed to solve public policy challenges," said Pearson.
During the conference, students heard from multiple speakers including former Harvard Institute of Politics fellow Teresa Vilmain, one of the nation's top political organizers and consultants, who instructed a session on "Creating and Maintaining Your Team," and Assistant Dean of Harvard College for Public Service, Dr. Gene Corbin, who started the discussion on how community service, advocacy and electoral politics are inherently linked in a discussion entitled Advocating for Change.
Students also met with Aaron Naparstek, a visiting scholar at MIT and creator of Streetsblog, an advocacy organization committed to reducing vehicle traffic in New York City.
"I was impressed by Arron Naparstek's lecture on political power and social media. His approach to social media through crowd souring and self-organization are things our generation can utilize for political advocacy," said Laskey.
"His model was successful to establish new methods of urban planning with grassroots political to solve a community problem."
Closing out the conference was former presidential Speechwriter and Advisor John McConnell who shared effective messaging tools.
Pearson said "I appreciated Mr. McConnell's comments about the importance of conveying feeling and emotion when presenting your views, but that sufficient policy ideas need to be included for your message to be viewed as legitimate."
Students participants are asked to contribute blog posts about advocacy initiatives and to share ideas and best practices in advocacy at their respective institutions and will also host online chats and speaker discussions throughout the year.
"It was a privilege to meet so many engaged students as part of a nationwide consortium. The networking opportunity with the colleges is significant as we all try to advocate for positive change at our colleges and in the wider political communities we are involved in," said Laskey.