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Confronting Power: The Practice of Policy Advocacy

Jeff Unsicker
Confronting Power: The Practice of Policy Advocacy
ISBN: 978-1-56549-533-3
ISBN: 978-1-56549-534-0
ISBN: 978-1-56549-536-4
2012/272 pages/LC: 2012008419
A Kumarian Press Book
"Will inspire advocates and students with lessons in strategy, communication, capacity building, and evaluation."—Eithne O'Leyne, Book News

"Packed full with case studies and the practical advice people need to hit the ground running, [this book] is an invaluable addition to the policy advocacy field at a time when we need strategic leadership more than ever."—Laura Raymond, Center for Constitutional Rights

"I found myself cheering Unsicker's writing and the stories he, his students, and colleagues uncovered.... Academic discipline does not stand in the way of making the advocates' work come alive. We come away valuing the public work of policy advocacy and wanting to engage in it."—David Cohen, Advocacy Institute


A grassroots citizens' group in Peru stops a multinational firm from digging a mine in the middle of  town. The research director of a think tank in Ghana helps convince the government to establish a national AIDS commission. An international NGO plays a key role in getting funding for climate-change adaptation included in a bill passed by the US Congress. All three are cases of the practice of policy advocacy. Confronting Power draws on these and other cases to illustrate a practical, comprehensive framework for planning, implementing, and evaluating policy advocacy.


Jeff Unsicker is professor at the SIT Graduate Institute and chair of SIT's master's program in sustainable development.


  • Introduction.
  • Conceptual Maps.
  • Advocacy Circles: Basic Elements.
  • Case: A Small Town in Peru Battles a Multinational Mining Corporation.
  • Advocacy Circles: Intersections.
  • Case: Vermonters Advocate to Close a Nuclear Power Reactor.
  • Advocates: Building Capacity.
  • Case: BRAC Advocacy Unit, Bangladesh: What Next?
  • Policy: Problems, Causes, and Solutions.
  • Case: Research and Advocacy for a Ghana AIDS Commission.
  • Politics: Formal and Nonformal Power. 
  • Case: Oxfam America Climate Change Campaign.
  • Strategy: People Power and Other Methods. 
  • Case: Safe Power Vermont Coalition.
  • Advocacy Communications: (Re)framing and Storytelling. 
  • Case: Kids Are Priority One: Framing the Message.
  • Advocacy Evaluation and Learning.
  • Case: Oxfam America Climate Change Campaign: Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning.