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Guide to Bonner Campuses Implementing PolicyOptions Issue Briefs

Page history last edited by Robert Hackett 12 years, 6 months ago

Greetings!  In 2009, Bonner Programs are encouraged to identify one issue around which to contribute their knowledge and experience towards our networked capacity to create and sustain impact through our service and civic engagement work.  This page helps guide this — especially for schools who are not involved in the Learn & Serve grant process (some Bonner Programs are).  Those schools are doing a more intensive implementation of PolicyOptions, likely to produce more than one brief this spring.


As the Bonner Foundation presented at the November 2008 Directors and Coordinators Meeting, every Bonner Scholar and Leader Program is encouraged to experiment with and develop one issue brief over the next several months. The end result will be an issue brief (usually short) that you can post on this wiki. While we hope that most schools can do this by Summer Leadership Institute (June 3-6), we recognize that may not happen in all cases. 


Nonetheless, we would recommend the following models which may allow it to happen fairly easily. Note that all three strategies can integrate with the sub-grant process for the Serve 2.0 initiative, which is focused on using social media tools connected to an issue (see RFP here):


1)  Build the issue brief assignment into the work of one class of Bonners (i.e., juniors or seniors), integrating education, discussion, and ongoing work on it into your regular class meetings. This is a good option for many, as it complements the training and enrichment plan you already have (which often includes policy research, academic connections, and other related skills). 


2) Build the issue brief assignment into the work of one (or more) site-based team or issue-based team. 

This may be the easiest way to go, if you have at least one site with multiple volunteers.  Note that this project doesn't have to be confined to Bonner Scholars/Leaders; other students and volunteers can be engaged.  Community partner staff can serve as a major resource for topic definition, research, and review of work done (as the suggested research process affirms). A faculty advisor could be sought for the process.  You can use existing site-based team meetings or schedule other meetings, or create a wiki page to facilitate work being done online (and at students' convenience).   


3) Build the issue brief assignment into the work of an existing course.  

Another possibility, which many of the schools involved in the 2007-2008 pilot utilized, is to build the issue brief process into an existing (or new) course.  Courses in public policy, sociology, government, and non-profit management are often good places for this work.  Talk with a faculty member who is already knowledgeable and engaged in academic-service connections or CBR, if possible, or one who wants to be.  Take a look at the Research and Writing Guide for more information to share.


In each of these cases, you may find it helpful to do the following:


  • You can use this wiki as a resource for students, having them review its contents in meetings and on their own.  Especially, you may want to review:
  • We'd encourage you to use this new guide (follow links), breaking the guide and process down over a series of meetings.  For example:
    • Meeting 1:  an overview (use power-points, show wikis, show examples)
    • Meeting 2:  facilitated process to brainstorm potential topics (homework: research and interview assignments to narrow topic; use portion of guide that includes potential sources and how to do interviews)
    • Meeting 3 (a few weeks later):  select a topic (based on partner feedback) and delegate further research assignments
    • Meeting 4 (a few weeks later):  review what's been done


  • Through a series of meetings, engage students with research, writing, interviewing, and other roles.  Not every student has to do the same thing.  Consider:
    • Internet research
    • Library research or literature reviews
    • Phone calls/phone interviews with local agencies
    • Meetings/interviews with local agencies
    • Meetings with professors


Click here to get to the beginning of the Guide to Researching and Writing Issue Briefs. 

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