Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute
Welcome! We are the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute (PAAI) at American University. We offer advanced workshops conducted by lobbying professionals throughout the year and host the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute in December and May.
Taking advantage of its setting in the nation's capital, PAAI offers courses on the representation of organized interests to the federal government combining academic approaches with the real world of Washington lobbying.
The Institute is a two-week intensive course (4 credit hours) offered in December and May focusing on major aspects of professional lobbying and political influence. The Institute features speakers from the faculty of American University and dozens of prominent professional lobbyists representing corporations, trade and professional associations, public interest groups, labor unions, as well as law and lobbying firms.
The workshop examines the full range of strategies and tactics pursued by organized interests and their lobbyists in attempting to gain access, obtain and exchange information, and influence policy makers in Congress and the executive branch. Drawing on their rich body of experiences, prominent lobbyists involved in all aspects of their profession offer lectures on such topics as direct lobbying, fundraising, the uses of different kinds of political money, various types of grassroots programs, coalition-building, advertising and public relations, and litigation strategies.
The Institute has a longstanding commitment to values and ethics-based lobbying, providing lectures and discussions on all aspects of the topic. It also recognizes the need to integrate diversity, equity and Inclusion (DEI) in its approaches to developing effective advocacy campaigns. PAAI will continue to provide lectures and panels for individuals and organizations to better understand DEI impact on the Advocacy profession.
Workshop participants are divided into teams to apply this knowledge by simulating the activities of a real-life lobbying firm. Under the direction of a senior Washington lobbyist serving as a mentor, each team creates a strategic lobbying plan on an important current public policy issue for a prospective client. On the final day of the institute the combined student and professional teams make a presentation of their strategic plans to a panel of faculty and lobbying professionals.
The Center offers several financial awards, including the recently added PAAI-specific award, the Griffin Scholarship for the Public Affairs & Advocacy Institute, to help offset the costs of participating in the institutes for degree and non-degree students.
AU students should see their academic adviser for information on enrolling in the institutes. There are also a limited number of seats available to non-AU students to participate in the institutes. Professionals can apply by submitting a resume and letter of interest to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn more about PAAI sessions for the upcoming academic year.
Winter Intersession 2024 PAAI Dates: January 2-14, 2024
Information for Students
- 4 credit hours.
- The January Institute is part of the academic Fall semester during the Fall intersession.
- The May Institute is part of the academic Summer semester.
- Talk with your adviser about registering for GOVT 523.
- Scholarship information is available.
Information for Professionals
- Cost (non-credit): $1500 plus fees.
- You provide your own lodging and travel arrangements.
- The course schedule runs from approximately 9 am to 5 pm, Monday through Saturday.
- Limited spots are available for professionals in January due to higher student registrations. More information available in early November.
- To apply, email a resume and letter of interest to email@example.com.
- Patrick Griffin and James A. Thurber, “Teaching Public Policy Advocacy by Combining Academic Knowledge and Professional Wisdom,” Interest Groups and Advocacy, 4 (2015), pp. 40-51. - Page 40-51.
- Gary Andres, Patrick Griffin, James A. Thurber, “The Contemporary Presidency: Managing White House-Congressional Relations: Observations from Inside the Process,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 30:3 (2000), pp. 553-563.
- James A. Thurber, “From Campaigning to Lobbying,” in Candice J. Nelson, David A. Dulio, Stephen K. Medvic, eds., Shades of Gray: Perspectives on Campaign Ethics (Brookings Institution Press, 2002), pp. 151-170.
- James A. Thurber, “Changing the Way Washington Works? Assessing President Obama’s Battle with Lobbyist,” Presidential Studies Quarterly, 2011.
- James A. Thurber, “Obama’s Battle with Lobbyists,” in James A. Thurber (Ed.), Obama in Office Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers. 2011.
- James A. Thurber, “Lobbying, Ethics, and Procedural Reforms: The Do-Nothing 109th Congress Does Nothing about Reforming Itself,” Extensions. Fall 2006.
- James A. Thurber, Testimony before the House and Senate Rules committees on lobbying reform, March 2006.