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History Youth Advocates for Mental Health Group Table

History Youth Advocates for Mental Health Group Table


Create an Interest Group

ASSIGNMENT: In this course, you learned that forming or joining interest groups is one way that Americans can participate in the U.S. political system. Recall that interest groups are formal associations of individuals or organizations that act to advance a shared interest and often attempt to influence government decision-making and public policy. For this assignment, you will create a hypothetical interest group around a cause or issue that is of interest to you. You will establish policy goals and strategize to meet those goals. By doing so, you will apply what you’ve learned about how the U.S. political system functions and about interest group formation, strategies, and incentives.

Create an Interest Group Template
Example Create an Interest Group Submission (PDF) 

A. Directions

Step 1: Select an issue or cause that is of interest to you, and prepare to create a hypothetical interest group that will advocate for the interest. The issue or cause could be big and national in scope (for example, gun safety); it could be small and local in scope (for example, cleanliness of the public park in your town); or anywhere in between. Note: Submissions that analyze existing, real-world interest groups will be returned ungraded.

HINTReview the Role of Interest Groups in Democracy tutorial and the Types of Interest Groups tutorial to help you reflect on the functions of interest groups.

Once you’ve selected an issue or cause, think about your goals and what you would want your interest group to accomplish. Talk to friends, family, or community members, or research on the Internet to learn more about the issue.

Step 2: Download the Create an Interest Group template and review the prompts. Think about the specific policy and membership goals of your hypothetical interest group, the barriers to achieving those goals, and the strategies that would best lead you to success.

HINTKeep in mind that the best strategies may be different for different interest groups, and may depend on how much public or political support exists for your goals, the membership base for your interest group, and how much money and political influence your group is likely to have.

HINTPrepare to respond to the prompts by reviewing the Interest Group Strategies tutorial and the Factors that Influence the Power of Interest Groupstutorial.

Step 3: Fill in the Create an Interest Group template. You will respond to the following prompts. Remember to include in-text citations when summarizing, quoting, paraphrasing, or including statistics or data from outside information sources!

  • Your Interest Group
    • In approximately 6-8 sentences, give your hypothetical interest group a name, and describe the issue or cause it supports or opposes and why.
    • What type of interest group is it?
  • Goals
    • What are your specific policy goals? Specify at least 2.
    • Which level(s) of government and which government branch(es) will you target, and why?
    • Is there one political party that might be more receptive to your goals? Why or why not?
    • What barriers exist to meeting your goals? Specify 2 or more. Examples might include the free rider problem, lack of popular support, lack of political support, financial barriers, or others.
    • How might your group overcome each of those barriers?
  • Membership
    • Who will you target for membership and how will you grow it?
    • What sorts of incentives can your interest group provide?
  • Actions
    • Choose two inside lobbying approaches and two outside lobbying approaches that your interest group will use. Explain how each will contribute to the goals. You can choose from the menu provided (below), or brainstorm your own ideas. 

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