Introduce the lesson with a lecture on Political Action Committees and compare
them to Interest Groups. http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/political_action_committees.htm is a source of this information. A site for examples of PAC’s can be
found at: http://dir.yahoo.com/Government/U_S__Government/Politics/Interest_Groups/Political_Action_Committees__PACs_/
Lesson 2: Take students to the computer lab and copy the following instructions
for them to refer to:
1. Go to the vote smart website http://www.vote-smart.org/index.htm to
find the following information on their representative and senators:
to biographical information
on your state and then one of your senators or your
a. How long have they been in office?
b. Are there any environmental or business organizations
that they belong to? If so name them.
to issue positions and then click to environment and
a. Do they appear to favor more government regulation
b. Are they more in favor of environment and wildlife
- Click to interest group ratings.
a. Did the representative vote the preferred position of
any interest group more than 60% of the time? If so
state the name
of the group
and % of time
they voted for the interest group.
Have students go to the FEC website http://www.fec.gov/ to find the following
information on their representatives and senators:
to citizen guide
to search campaign finance data
to candidate search
to committees who gave to this candidate
a. In general what type of committees contributed
the most amount of money to this candidate?
b. List any energy committees or companies
that contributed to this candidate.
c. List any environmental organizations
that contributed to this candidate.
d. Which type of committee appeared to
contribute the most?
e. Is there any correlation between the
types of committees that donated money
representative and their issue
Students will hand in their findings
at the end of the period.
3: Introduce the lesson to the students by briefly
lecturing on the
between grassroots lobbying
and civil disobedience
and how they
compare to corporate lobbying. A good
resource on civil disobedience can
be found at:
out two articles on grass roots lobbying: “Campaign
for Old Growth” and “Logging Activist
Celebrates One Year of Living in Tree” (OPTION: “Fifty
Things” from http://www.fiftythings.com/ancient.forests.html)
could be used in place of the second article)
and tell the students that they are going to
read an example of grassroots lobbying.
After reading the articles have students discuss the
following in small groups and record their
a. What was the purpose of the lobbying activity?
b. Was Julia Hill successful in achieving her
c. Julia Hill was a single activist. How was
she able to gain more public support for her
d. Did Julia Hill participate in civil disobedience?
e. What is the best way for grassroots lobbyists
to gain media exposure?
f. Do you believe that grassroots lobbyists are
as effective in achieving their goals as are
interest groups and corporate lobbyists who have
of financial backing (is money the name of
1. Assign students to groups of 4 (the same groups
from the previous lesson, “Can I
Be Swayed” (coal
energy, nuclear energy, and environment)
and assign the following task:
You are to create a grassroots lobbying
activity that will generate awareness
for an issue related
to your assigned interest.
You will first work in your groups to brainstorm on
who represent the coal industry
will work in groups of 4 (smaller groups
more student involvement),
students who represent the nuclear
industry will work in groups of 4, etc.
After your group has decided on a problem you will
fill out the
State the problem that you want to bring to the attention
of the public and policy makers:
2. What are some possible solutions to your problem?
3. What do you want the political officials to
4. Describe how you will raise public awareness
about your issue and lobby
5. List the people and groups you may contact to
help you accomplish your goal.
Lesson 4-Period 5
1. Groups will share their action plans with the class.
2. Class will create a list of lobbying techniques that are used by interest
and grassroots lobbyists.
3. Class will prioritize the list: (1) most effective to (10) least effective
Student participation in class discussion should show an understanding of
media bias and its impact on public opinion. The homework assignment will also
Tell the students
that they are to assume the role of a member of the interest
group they were assigned to in the previous lesson to complete
the following assignment:
Find an article that refutes the arguments that are
presented in the article that addresses
their viewpoint. For example,
the members of the coal industry must find an article that
refutes the arguments in “The Hidden Cost of Fossil
The members of the nuclear industry must find an article
that refutes the arguments in “Nuclear sites put drinking
water sources at risk”, and members of the environmental
group must refute arguments in the article “Toward
Reliable, Affordable and Secure Energy”.
Students should write a summary of the article and
include a discussion
that addresses any biases that are present in the article.
They should also discuss how the article best represents
point of view.