Strengthen Critical Thinking Abilities with our Public Policy Programs

Our philosophy is based on the belief that the best policy decision-makers have acute critical thinking skills, effective writing techniques, and excellent research and data analysis abilities. Program offerings strengthen participants’ critical thinking abilities, academic/policy writing, leadership, communication, research, and analytical skills. Lesson plans will draw upon a variety of materials and methodologies to build students’ knowledge and prepare them for public policy education and training in the classroom that ends with real-world professional development opportunities.

The Summer Academy will combine fun activities with intensive learning experiences. Each two-week session will offer engaging and rewarding public policy coursework. Top professors in their fields, policy experts, and leading decision-makers will introduce program participants to policy formation and analysis, economics, public administration, research methods, and statistics, as well as critical thinking, advocacy, and writing strategies. The total number of course contact hours will exceed the number of contact hours in a standard 16-week (three-credit-hour) semester course. Program participants are introduced to policy studies through The Summer Academy and challenged to exercise their thinking skills and leadership abilities by applying their skills in real-world settings and finding their voice through advocacy and writing. Lesson plans will consist of lectures, workshops, round group discussions, small group exercises, guest speakers, and other learning and interactive modalities.

Guest speakers will allow participants to hear and speak with government, business, and nonprofit leaders about policy and its implications for their industries and constituents. Participants that complete the program will leave with an action plan to advocate for or write about a policy issue of concern to them and apply the tools and skills learned in their session.

Summer Academy Session Dates

June 26 - July 9, 2022

Summer Academy 2020

Virginia Department of Transportation

Virginia Department of Transportation

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development

Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

Office of U.S. Senator Tim Kaine

Summer Academy 2021

Solar Energy for Everybody

Solar Energy for Everybody

Tribal Communications

Tribal Communications

U.S. Census

U.S. Census

Understanding The Needs of the HRHA Residents Capstone Project

Understanding The Needs of the HRHA Residents Capstone Project

Water Sanitation in Ghana

Water Sanitation in Ghana

Policy and Society Year-Round College Preparatory Program Capstone Projects

Spring 2021 Shaping our Future: Policy Pathways

HRHA Residents

HRHA Residents

Tribal Communications

Tribal Communications

U.S. Census

U.S. Census

Understanding The Needs of the HRHA Residents Capstone Project

Understanding The Needs of the HRHA Residents Capstone Project

Water Sanitation in Ghana

Water Sanitation in Ghana

Program Strategies

The Summer Academy encourages students to think about and engage in open dialogue on complex policy issues and to take action in their communities or society.

Education and Training: Participants are introduced to the field of public policy research and analysis through discussions of contemporary policy issues and challenges. Lesson plans are structured around critical thinking activities that incorporate factual, conceptual, procedural, and metacognitive approaches to knowledge acquisition (Anderson and Krathwohl, 2001), as well as multicultural education and non-cognitive skill development activities (Ecker-Lyster & Niileksela, 2017). Instructors and presenters will be noted professors, recognized professionals with real-world policy experience, and leading policy decision-makers, thinkers and writers, and advocates in their fields.

Project-based Model:
The curriculum will be designed to help participants develop critical thinking skills by working collaboratively to identify a problem that was either created as a result of policy decisions or a problem that they believe the action of policymakers could be addressed. Tackling a policy-related problem will build skills and talents and foster interests in policy areas.

Research and Writing:
Participants are encouraged to conduct research and write articles, editorials, and manuscripts for publication.

Advocacy:
Participants are provided with training in a variety of strategies to debate their positions and advocate for policy change and educating policymakers and key stakeholders.

Professional Development:
Participants are encouraged to engage in learning, service, and community initiatives that sharpen their leadership skills and abilities.

Goals

Our goals are to (1) strengthen the links between underrepresented student populations, policy research and analysis, and undergraduate programs and public policy communities; and (2) provide high‐level research and analysis to support policymakers and practitioners and expand educational opportunity to all students.

The Summer Academy will help program participants become more aware of how legislative decisions and public policies impact groups and communities and will help program participants become better prepared to transition to undergraduate and graduate public policy, public affairs, public service, and public administration and management programs, as well as policy-related programs in other academic disciplines, such as law, health, business, and education.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completing the Summer Academy, participants will:

  1. Know key assumptions, methodologies, theories, and analytical tools of policymaking;
  2. Demonstrate knowledge of current policy issues and advocacy strategies to influence policy decision-making;
  3. Demonstrate analytical writing in the policy analysis context.

Curriculum Overview

The curriculum is based on a four-pronged pedagogical framework that moves from critical thinking to policy formation to policy analysis to advocacy and persuasion.

Each two-week public policy course will include six core modules:

  • Introduction to Public Policy Economics
  • Introduction to Research Methods
  • Introduction to Statistics
  • Policy Studies I (Policy Formation)
  • Policy Studies II (Policy Analysis)
  • Public Administration

The Summer Academy will offer three Specialty Workshops that focus on critical thinking, advocacy, and writing. Summer Academy participants will be provided with innovative instruction to enhance and test their abilities to translate theories into practice in real-world situations. Through a session in critical thinking, students will be challenged to approach and think about policy issues in new ways. Research Methods is a foundational course that is designed to equip students with the skills to collect, manage, and interpret data. Policy Studies I introduce participants to the policymaking process, and Policy Studies II presents participants with the contents for policy analysis. Statistics will be taught as an independent course as well as integrated into the curriculum of other core courses. Economics will introduce participants to economic terms, theories, and models that are foundational for understanding public policy issues, and our Public Administration course will introduce participants to various aspects of government administration.

A series of all-campus guest speakers allows students to hear from top government, business, and nonprofit leaders about their experiences, perspectives, and guidance for young people who want to create change. Students leave the program with an action plan to address a need in their home community, applying the tools they learned in the course to an area of personal interest.

Program Outcomes

After completing a session, a Summer Academy participant should:

  1. Be able to think critically about and apply critical reflection techniques to policy issues;
  2. Have acquired knowledge of key policy formation processes and theories;
  3. Be familiar with advocacy strategies and approaches;
  4. Be able to think critically about and engage in basic policy analysis;
  5. Have acquired an introduction to public policy statistics, economics, and research methods;
  6. Have completed at least one written document for publication on a blog or in a magazine, newspaper, or journal; and
  7. Have increased preparation and confidence to pursue policy-focused degree programs and careers.

The Summer Academy Online

Session Dates: June 26 - July 9, 2022

Application Due Date: Sunday, May 1, 2022

As governors across the country enact stay-at-home orders to reduce the spread of coronavirus, we all must do our part to stay safe and save lives. During these uncertain times, Policy Pathways remains committed to training and educating youth who are eager to learn with an exciting and engaging program focused on public policies and their implications for individuals, organizations, and communities.

Policy Pathways is launching The Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service Online (The Summer Academy Online), a distance learning program to ensure the wellbeing of Summer Academy participants, faculty and staff, and the integrity of our summer program experience. The Summer Academy Online will combine intensive learning experiences with fun activities.

The two-week session will offer engaging and rewarding public policy course work. Top professors in their fields, policy experts, and leading decision-makers will introduce program participants to policy formation and analysis, economics, public administration, research methods, and statistics, as well as critical thinking, advocacy, and writing strategies. Apply Now, using our streamlined application!

The Summer Academy Online introduces program participants to the exciting and dynamic field of policy studies through an online platform where course instruction and materials are delivered electronically. Program participants will be challenged to exercise their critical thinking and leadership abilities by applying their skills to contemporary real-world policy issues and finding their voice through advocacy and writing. Lesson plans will consist of lectures, workshops, group discussions, small group exercises, guest speakers, and other learning and interactive modalities. Summer Academy Online instructors are highly qualified, with over half holding earned doctoral degrees in their fields. Program participants will have the opportunity to interact extensively with faculty members and classmates in virtual classrooms. Guest speakers will allow participants to hear and speak with government, business, and nonprofit leaders about policy and its implications for their industries and constituents. Participants that complete the program will leave with an action plan to advocate for or write about a policy issue of concern to them and apply the tools and skills learned in their session.

The Summer Academy Online encourages students to think about and engage in open dialogue on complex policy issues and to take action in their communities or society.

The Summer Academy Online will help program participants become more aware of how legislative decisions and public policies impact groups and communities and will help program participants become better prepared to transition to undergraduate and graduate public policy, public affairs, public service, and public administration and management programs, as well as policy-related programs in other academic disciplines, such as law, health, business, and education.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completing The Summer Academy Online, participants will:
The Summer Academy will offer three Specialty Workshops that focus on critical thinking, advocacy, and writing. Summer Academy Online participants will be provided with innovative instruction to enhance and test their abilities to translate theories into practice in real-world situations. Through a session in critical thinking, students will be challenged to approach and think about policy issues in new ways. Research Methods is a foundational course that is designed to equip students with the skills to collect, manage, and interpret data. Policy Studies I introduce participants to the policymaking process, and Policy Studies II presents participants with the contents for policy analysis.

Statistics will be taught as an independent module as well as integrated into the curriculum of other core courses. Economics will introduce participants to economic terms, theories, and models that are foundational for understanding public policy issues, and our Public Administration course will introduce participants to various aspects of government administration.

A series of guest speakers will allow students to hear from top government, business, and nonprofit leaders about their experiences, perspectives, and guidance for young people who want to create change. Students leave the program with an action plan to address a need in their home community, applying the tools they learned in the course to an area of personal interest.

Public Leadership and Public Service Online Academy: June 27 - July 10

Arrival Day Schedule Sunday, June 26, 2022

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Participant Check-In (Audio/Camera Checks)
1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Welcome/Program Overview
3:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m. Class/Workshop
5:00 p.m. End of Day

Typical Weekday Schedule

9:00 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. (Computer Audio/Camera Checks)
10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Morning Class
12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Afternoon Class

Departure Day Schedule Saturday, July 9, 2022

9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Final Class Meeting
12:00 p.m. The Summer Academy Online Program Concludes

Schedule is subject to change.

Fees and Tuition Rates

Application Fee
Participant application fee (nonrefundable and not applied to tuition) - $70
Tuition per Two-Week Session
Summer Academy Online Participant (includes instruction and books and materials) - $1,900

Technical Requirements

Participants enrolled in Summer Academy Online will need a computer with broadband Internet access and a current web browser. A headset, speakers, and a microphone, along with Zoom, the video conferencing platform that will allow participants interaction with instructors and other students during real-time class sessions.

Participants will need an email address and Microsoft Word and Excel. Additional plugins may need to be installed on your computer or web browser to support the viewing of videos and the sharing of work and submitting assignments. Please be aware that some software may not work properly on iPads and tablets.

Computer Hardware & Web Browsers

  • Computers or devices using Windows 10 or macOS 19.13 operation systems
  • Current web browsers, including:
    • Chrome
    • Firefox
    • Microsoft Edge
    • Explorer 11 in Windows 10
    • Safari for Mac computers and devices

Your Browser
Please make sure that your browser is up to date. Your internet browser should be configured to:

  • Enable cookies
  • Enable JavaScript
  • Allow pop-up windows
  • Allow plugins when needed

Software
Additional software may be needed, and is described within the details of each module:

  • Adobe Reader – other PDF viewers not supported
  • Adobe Flash player. Flash-based courses will not work with most tablets
  • Microsoft Word or other compatible software, such as Google Docs
  • Excel
  • Zoom

Technical Support
If you have problems accessing the public policy course, please contact Summer Academy Online administrative staff.

Enrollment Process

The Summer Academy Online extended application due date is Sunday, May 15, 2022. Late applications will be considered on a space-available basis. Participants will be selected, and notifications will be mailed by Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

Apply to the Summer Academy Online by creating a My Path participant account. Use your My Path login ID and password to complete the streamlined application process. Fill in the digital application and select Summer Academy Online as your program choice. Application fees and tuition can be paid using the PayPal Payment button. You also may mail your application and tuition and fees using the U.S. postal service.

There are no prerequisites to enroll in The Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service Online.

Financial Aid
Please be aware that we have limited financial assistance available. Families and participants interested in being considered for financial aid are encouraged to indicate their preference by accessing your My Path account and responding to the financial assistance question on the Summer Academy Online Participant Application Form.

POLICY AND SOCIETY YEAR-ROUND COLLEGE PREPARATORY PROGRAM


Our “Policy and Society” year-round curriculum is a modular public-policy course that aligns with Virginia Standards of Learning assessments in Civics and Economics; Probability and Statistics; Economics and Personal Finance; and English, as well as the five core competencies needed for graduation: Critical Thinking, Creative Thinking, Communication, Collaboration, and Citizenship.

The curriculum affords the synergy of integrated themes and the progression of skills development as students complete modules and workshops focused on three types of understanding: conceptual, scaffolding (i.e., the integration of skills across new conceptual frameworks), and analyzing. In addition to enriching already-existing curricula at high schools, “Policy and Society” helps schools meet academic, equity, and student satisfaction goals. The program’s curriculum, faculty, and structure can help reduce absenteeism, improve graduation rates, and increase the number of students enrolling in two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

But above all, “Policy and Society” gives students the tools, intellectual as well as practical, to succeed academically and envision themselves as making a difference in the world. They will understand, too, how to use their skills to foster a more equitable and inclusive future for the region, the state, and the nation. The course, rigorous yet sensitive to the educational and social needs of students at varying levels of performance, will supplement their knowledge and experience and encourage academic and professional accomplishment.

SUMMER ACADEMY FOR POLICY LEADERSHIP AND PUBLIC SERVICE


The in-person Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service program has been postponed indefinitely due to covid-19.

The Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service (the Summer Academy), is a program for gifted, talented, and high-potential high school and college students. The Summer Academy’s purpose is to bolster diversity and to help its graduates enter the academic pipelines for policy-related programs in Richmond and beyond. Rising high school sophomores, juniors, seniors, recent high school graduates, and college students admitted to the Summer Academy will take part in an engaging and challenging educational program, including hands-on experience. Their learning focused on real-world policy issues, and challenges will offer them opportunities to research, design, and conduct significant policy-related projects.

The Summer Academy will combine fun with intensive learning. Each rigorous but rewarding two-week session will offer public-policy coursework. Top professors, policy experts, and leading decision-makers will introduce program participants to policy formation and analysis, economics, public administration, research methods, and statistics, as well as critical thinking, advocacy, and effective, readable writing. (Course contact hours will exceed those in a standard 16-week (3 credit- hour) semester course.)

The Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service is going virtual. Our online learning management system (LMS) allows The Summer Academy to remotely provide instruction, facilitate workshops, and coordinate group activities and interactions. We are happy that we can offer our exciting, engaging, and timely program through a distance learning platform for youth who are interested in public policies and their impacts on individuals, organizations, and communities!

The Summer Academy for Policy Leadership and Public Service Online (The Summer Academy Online) will run June 27 - July 10, 2021. Our distance learning program uses the Policy Pathways curriculum and is structured like our traditional face-to-face program. The Summer Academy Online will combine intensive learning experiences with fun activities. The two-week session will offer engaging and rewarding public policy course work. Top professors in their fields, policy experts, and leading decision-makers will introduce program participants to policy formation and analysis, economics, public administration, research methods, and statistics, as well as critical thinking, advocacy, and writing strategies. Course content will focus on real-world policy issues and offer opportunities to research, design, and conduct policy-related projects through capstone teams. Program participants will have the opportunity to interact extensively with faculty members and classmates in virtual classrooms.

POLICY PATHWAYS INTERNSHIP PROGRAM


Graduates of Policy Pathways programs can take advantage of the Policy Pathways Internship Program where they will have the opportunity to work with top professors, elected and appointed government officials, and community policy leaders and decision-makers. Interns will participate in training sessions and provide research and administrative and support in such areas as legislative research and drafting, data analysis, and government and community relations. Interns may assist in developing issue papers, talking points, presentations, and quantitative analyses, as they also gain firsthand insight into legislative and political affairs.