Effective Advocacy Practice in Macro Social Work Settings

Dr. Kellie O'Dare
Dr. Kellie O'Dare Wilson

Emerge Faculty Fellow: Dr. Kellie O'Dare Wilson

Social work practice occurs within micro, mezzo, and macro settings. The focus of this HIP activity proposal is on macro level practice and advocacy. Macro level practice involves intervening with organizations, communities, policies, and laws. The project blends faculty/student research with components of community-based learning and diversity/global learning and will require students to complete legislative research on a change issue of their choosing, track legislation, and prepare testimony to be given in person in at a Legislative committee meeting.

The research includes learning about the history and structure of the Legislature, understanding how an idea becomes a bill and then a law, the highly political nature of the legislative process, and the importance of macro advocacy for social work. Students are required to track potential legislation from inception, through Committees of references, floor votes, the appropriations process, and through Gubernatorial action (either signed into law or vetoed.)

A critical part of this process is identifying advocates and opponents of the legislation, and performing an analysis of the intended and unintended consequences should the bill become a law. The analysis provides students with an opportunity to think deeply on both the apparent and potential unapparent effects of laws on individuals, families, communities, organizations, etc. Students use the Florida Legislature’s Bill Tracker system to get real-time updates on progress and also watch archives video and audio feeds from Committee meetings and floor debate.

Dr. O’Dare Wilson (a former Senior Analyst for the Florida Legislature) will be closely involved in mentoring and coaching students to develop well informed, thorough, and appropriate testimony. Providing well-delivered testimony (effective advocacy) in a high-stakes environment (directly influencing legislation) is the epitome of a professional communication activity.

High Impact Practices (HIPs) Utilized

  • Faculty/Student Research
  • Collaborative Assignment and Projects

For more information, please contact Dr. Kellie O'Dare Wilson at kodare@uwf.edu.