Writing for Public Policy


Units: 6


Communication in written form is an essential element of being a public policy professional. Writing for consulting firms, government agencies, think tanks, advocacy groups, industry associations, and other contexts in the sphere of public policy differs from academic writing. Accordingly, this course challenges students to convey critical thinking by anticipating readers’ needs and the perspectives of stakeholders in the practice of shaping public policy. The writing skills integral to this process include: developing essential and persuasive content, communicating complex ideas, organizing information, targeting diverse audiences with varying levels of expertise and roles, ensuring clarity, controlling tone, and designing a document for readability. Students analyze real-world documents relevant to careers in public policy, craft strategic quotes for news releases, and write policy one-pagers as well as policy memos. Writing guidance and sample documents – specific to public policy – are provided during the course.

Learning Outcomes

  • Differentiate the format and style of professional writing from personal and academic writing
  • Determine the purpose and scope of the message
  • Distinguish between essential versus non-essential information
  • Target writing to particular readers, rather than preparing generic material
  • Demonstrate writing as a tool to build and maintain professional relationships
  • Communicate complex, data-heavy topics accurately using specific, plain language
  • Maintain a logical structure through calculated organizational methods
  • Format headings, lists, data, citations, and visuals with a focus on precision and consistency
  • Create efficiently phrased, actionable communications for use in a workplace
  • Edit documents thoroughly prior to distribution

Prerequisites Description