New Media Advocacy master’s program will equip students to ‘change the world’

A new Media Advocacy master’s program built to equip students to ‘change the world.’ Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

In an era in which communication technologies are changing drastically and rapidly and communicating effectively means breaking through a lot of digital noise, Northeastern is launching a new graduate program to equip students with the tools they need to be savvy communications professionals.

The College of Arts, Media and Design and the School of Law are partnering to introduce a Master of Science in Media Advocacy degree program, with courses—such as “Tools of Media Advocacy” and “Ethics of Advocacy”—starting this fall.

For those currently working or pursuing careers in government relations, nonprofits, strategic communications, lobbying, political messaging, or other similar fields, the need to communicate effectively is essential.

“As for so many fields today, success comes from mastery in areas that are traditionally taught in very different disciplinary contexts,” said Elizabeth Hudson, dean of the College of Arts, Media and Design. “CAMD’s partnership with the School of Law will allow students to get the training they need in one place.”

For people working in communication fields whose job is to present policies and advocate on behalf of their organizations, actual communication is only half the battle, according to School of Law Dean Jeremy Paul.

“Often, what people in these types of positions don’t know enough about is: ‘If I want to influence policy, how does policy get made?’” Paul said. “It’s essential to know what mechanisms are available, to know the difference between local ordinances, state statutes, federal statutes, administrative agencies, and so on.”

He added: “We’re training people to be consummate communications directors in an environment where you’re not just talking about selling a product, but selling points of view, selling policy.”

Jonathan Kaufman, director of Northeastern’s School of Journalism, said the program “brings together the strength of the law school with sophisticated training in the latest digital communication techniques from the School of Journalism.”

Woodrow Hartzog, professor of law and computer science, who has a background in journalism, noted that the program is designed to “meet the needs of people who don’t have time to fully immerse themselves in a law degree but need to be conversant in how rules shape power, how they shape outcomes.”

“It’s for people who need to, on any given topic, articulate what the stakes are, what the existing rules are, what needs to change, and how the law plays in their organization.”

Perhaps most importantly, the degree program meets an important need among students. “We’re seeing in students an incredible desire to make a difference,” Kaufman said. “This program is a way to respond to that idealism. Students want to know how to change the world and we’re going to give them the tools to do that, however they choose.”