The rise of advocacy as a major discipline

Rolf Olsen

October 9, 2019

Ten years ago, we started a very meaningful collaboration with the Graduate Institute in Geneva, one of the world’s leading academic institutions in global affairs.  Last Friday we attended our final ceremony graduating both candidates for Executive Masters and Executive Certificates in Advocacy in International Affairs. We have decided to move on from our partnership with the Graduate Institute to focus all our attention on consulting clients.

On this milestone, it is worth reflecting on the rise of advocacy as a major discipline.

We consider advocacy both as something you do and something you get.  If you are very successful doing advocacy, you will find that many other people will become your advocate.

Through advocacy you can change the world.

But driving advocacy is a science.

Through our program and partnership with the Graduate Institute we have shaped advocacy as a clear process with the “4A’s” – Awareness, Acknowledgment, Acceptance and Activation.

We have graduated more than 150 advocacy experts through our partnership with the Graduate Institute and we are proud to know that many of these people now are more successful at driving transformation and positive change.

I was extra proud – given my mere academic credentials – to be the co-director of the Advocacy program together with Professor Cédric Dupont in the early years of the program.  The contextual insights of the institute and the practical skill brought in by Leidar, delivered a program that got rave reviews from the participants.

Today we see a lot more informed discussion about advocacy than we did ten years ago.

One person that has shaped the program more than anyone is my colleague, Dr. Lukasz Bochenek.  He co-directed the program the past five years and he was instrumental in shaping the content of the course from the beginning.  His advocacy thought leadership is not ending with our engagement delivering the Executive program at the Graduate Institute.  Now in October he is publishing the world´s first complete book on advocacy with a comprehensive insight into “Advocacy and Organizational Engagement: Redefining the Way Organizations Engage”.

We will for sure come back with more perspectives on this important step in defining and documenting the advocacy profession, and for those living in Geneva, we will commence a series of events discussing advocacy in the international landscape.

We live in a time when the last of the 4As is more important than ever.  Activation of people to act differently is the only answer to solving climate change and many of the other problems the world face.  The challenge is: you cannot get there without the first three As – so expect to hear more from us on the science of advocacy going forward, and get yourself a copy of Lukasz’ book.  We may be stepping away from teaching, but we will step up our conversations around the important subject of driving change with advocacy.

At this junction, we dare to say: we did not invent advocacy, but we gave it some more substance. Thanks to all the students who made it both fun and challenging.