Though the policymaking process is complex, with a host of actors and competing interests, public policy is traditionally shaped by elected officials, administrative agencies, and organized interest groups. There are many avenues for policies to be informed by the lived experience of members of low-income and marginalized communities; however, their participation is often hidden and/or undervalued. Public servants and policymakers can provide proactive opportunities for communities to assert their own priorities and rights through mechanisms like public planning processes or participatory budgeting. Similarly, marginalized communities can self-organize and even form common cause with broader interests to create more just public policies. In this course, we will explore strategies for initiating participatory policymaking from above (e.g., government/ policymakers initiating participatory approaches to decision-making) and below (e.g., grassroots communities mobilizing to influence policy), and the democratic tradition of challenging traditional power structures. We will also examine the essential concepts of power—what it is, how it is used, how groups and communities can expand and strengthen their political power, and how public officials can share theirs.
CORE-GP.1022 or URPL-GP.2660