DPI 351:
Lobbying: Theory, Practice, and Simulations


Lobbying: Making or Breaking Policy

Lobbying: The 4th Branch of Government

Lobbying: How 12,000 People Spend $3.3 Billion

Lobbying: Right to Petition v. Prohibition on Buying Legislation

Course Overview

Lobbying is often called the 4th branch of government since this multi-billion dollar industry significantly impacts policy making. This intensive course provides the opportunity to understand the fundamentals of lobbying while learning first-hand about the lobbying efforts of energy and environmental advocacy groups representing a variety of perspectives. Mornings (9:00-12:00) will be devoted to discussing lobbying basics – history and current size/scale/scope, value proposition, strategies and toolkit, regulations, players, scandals, etc. Lunchtime guest speakers will share perspectives on lobbying from the frontline. The afternoons (1:00-6:00) will be spent learning about the advocacy efforts of local energy and environment social welfare organizations NGOs and simulating lobbying meetings on their behalf. There is also individual and group work in the evening. The lobbying sessions will be conducted with former state legislators to add realism to the experience. As part of that process the students will (1) determine who to target and the message to deliver; (2) hold the session; and (3) provide follow-up materials. The simulations will be videotaped and debriefed with the legislator and the class.

Goal of Lobbying


Course Goals

At the end of the course the students will have a working knowledge of lobbying practices from the perspective of the “lobbyer” and “lobbyee” as well as gained experience in developing a simulated lobbying deliverable.

  1. Students will understand the basics of lobbying:

  • History

  • Value Proposition and ROI

  • Regulation and Enforcement – The Dos and Don’ts

  • Ethics and Endless Scandals

  • Lobbying Psychology, Strategies and Success

  • NGO lobbying

  • Lobbying Across the Globe

  • Lobbying Regulators

  • Lobbying by State and Local Governments

  • The Future of the Lobbying

  1. And put theory into practice through simulated lobbying sessions with real-world practitioners:

Clients: Boston area environmental and social services NGOs


  • Learn client’s needs and objectives

  • Determine targets and messages

  • Build script and materials

  • Conduct lobbying session

  • Debrief

  • Provide follow-up materials

Teams: 4-6 students

Why Take this Course?

The course will serve legislative and agency staffers, politicians, aspiring lobbyists, NGO leaders and anyone in the policy analysis space.

Course Roadmap


The course is taught through a blend of class discussions and simulations. The daily routine will be learning theory and tools in the morning and applying the concepts to client advocacy objectives in the afternoon. The morning instruction will come via lectures and class discussions. Most days a lunchtime speaker will bring the practitioners perspectives to the class. The afternoons are for learning about how local NGOs advocate and honing students lobbying skills through simulations.


  • Annotated reading list

  • Discussion questions

Mornings (9:00-12:00)

  • Facilitated discussion

  • Topical focus

Lunch (12:00-1:00)

  • Guest speakers

Afternoons (1:00-6:00+)

  • Simulation preparation

  • Simulations and debrief

  • Follow-up deliverable

Class Norms

Lobbying is a profession. Success is predicated in part on your professionalism. We will practice what we preach. You are expected to abide by the University policies on academic honesty and integrity. Violations of these policies will not be tolerated and are subject to severe sanctions up to and including expulsion from the university. You need to be at every class, on time. Also, while we will periodically use digital technology in during class, as a general rule, the classroom sessions will be laptop/phone/tablet free.


Final Paper – 50%

At the end of the course you will write a 2,500-word paper reflecting on a particular aspect of lobbying that you find interesting, surprising or especially challenging. The paper is based on research, class experience, and your own insights.

Lobbying Simulations – 25%

Each student will participate in a lobbying simulation on behalf of your client. The simulations will be evaluated by the lobbyee, instructor and your classmates.

Class Participation – 25%

The participation grade is a function of contributions to class discussion, asking questions of our guest speakers (a bonus for the first question), and feedback to your peers on lobbying simulations. Prompt attendance is also a component of your participation grade. More that 1 late arrival will result in a significant reduction in your grade.

I will assign grades according to the following HKS-recommended distribution:

  • A: 10-15 percent

  • A- 20-25 percent

  • B+ 30- 40 percent

  • B 20-25 percent

  • B- or below 5-10 percent


Argentina Lobbying Press.pdf