Advocacy Initiative

students at rally on Sproul Plaza

The UC Berkeley School of Public Health is recognized for being outstanding at preparing health leaders and professionals to identify and define good health policy. Additionally, School graduates need to be prepared to go forward and engage in changing policies for the better. 

About the Advocacy Initiative

The Advocacy Initiative is a program for students, recent alumni, and public health organizations to engage in campaigns to improve or protect health policies. This provides practical, hands-on advocacy training to augment other student learning modes. The overarching goal is for students and graduates to serve as effective agents of change for underserved communities throughout California.

The Advocacy Initiative works with communities and community-based organizations (CBOs) that want practical on the ground advocacy assistance in changing and protecting policies, in order to improve the health of underserved populations and remedy health disparities. In addition to achieving better health policies, the Initiative raises the advocacy skills, connections, and enthusiasm of California groups and communities seeking systemic health improvements.

The Initiative is part of the School of Public Health’s Center for Public Health Practice & Leadership. It was established by a generous grant from The California Endowment.

Advocacy Initiative Courses

The following courses have been offered for graduate and undergraduate students:

Current course offerings:

Health Policy Advocacy, PH 220D

This course, taught by Harry Snyder and Anthony Iton, focuses on data-based strategies using persuasive written and oral communication skills necessary to preserve and/or improve the health status of populations. The course will allow students to understand and situate the important role of focused public health advocacy in the spectrum of public health practice. Students will develop research, organization, and coalition-building skills necessary to produce an effective advocacy campaign. The course identifies the roles of those involved in the making of policy and demonstrates the use of appropriate channels and technologies to influence health policy change.

Past course offerings:

Advocacy in Action: Health Policy Advocacy Group Study, PH 298.040 in Fall and PH 220D in Spring

This group study, taught in Spring and Fall by Laurie True, will provide students practical advocacy opportunities with local and statewide organizations to address public health and social justice issues. Students will deepen their advocacy skills and gain exposure in advocacy specific jobs and career paths. Participants will be placed with a leading health organization to complete an important, timely advocacy action-learning project. In-class discussions, case studies, and guest speakers will provide practical skills and insights that support advocacy learning and successful projects. Instructors will provide hands-on project assistance and coaching. Students will also learn from the advocacy work done by fellow group study participants and the advocates they work with.


Harry Snyder, JD
Advocacy Leader in Residence
Lecturer, Health Policy and Management
(415) 518-6715


Anthony Iton, MD, JD, MPH
Senior Vice President, Healthy Communities,
The California Endowment
(510) 271-4310