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Development of a Public Policy Project in the Graduate Dietetic Internship Program

University of Maine

Promising Approaches

  • (3) Design and implement programs that provide students with the opportunity to apply what they learn through performing community service that is linked to the formal curriculum and classroom instruction.

Overview

The project is a two-semester project in FSN 650, FSN 651. 

1st semester.  Teams composed of graduate students identify a public policy issue of concern to the profession of dietetics, research the issue, develop policy statement, and plan of action.  Top policy priority areas in the dietetics profession include; Elderly Nutrition, Children Nutrition, Medicare Medical Nutrition Therapy Reform, Health Claims Labeling, and Food and Nutrition Assistance .

2nd semester.  Teams carry out some form of implementation project to influence policy.  The team decides a good venue for influencing public policy and what strategies might be most effective.  Possible activities might include writing informational articles for newsletter; using other forms of media for advocacy; developing presentations for and providing resources to community agencies, such as a school board; visiting and providing resources to legislators.

Report Format 

  • Statement of the problem or issue
  • Historical background
  • Presentation of divergent points of view
  • Statement of policy
  • Plan of action to address policy issue
  • Implementation/application/advocacy activity
  • Outcome/evaluation
  • List of resources

Assessment: Each semester, 1 written mid status report; final report given in oral and written format 

For example, one team partnered with Old Town Elementary School on policy related to snacks for elementary school children.  They surveyed available literature on educational policies relating to school snacks and conducted their own observational research, surveys, and interviews with children and staff at the school.  They presented their findings and recommendations to a meeting of parents, administrators, and teachers in April 2005, including a number of specific action steps the school and teachers can take to improve their students’ health and nutrition while fitting in with the children’s schedules.

Special Features

Civic Learning Goals

  • Civic knowledge:

Students will be able to:

  • Participate in public policy through identifying needs, getting issues on the right agenda, formulating policy, implementing and evaluating a policy issue
  • Discuss controversies associated with differing viewpoints
  • Civic skills:

Students will be able to:

  • Participate in legislative and public policy processes as they affect food, food security, and/or nutrition
  • Develop skills in networking with community leaders and decision-makers
  • Practice critical thinking skills and group problem solving
  • Civic attitudes:

Students will be able to:

  • Appreciate policy as action that aids the public good and can evoke significant impact on societal behavior
  • Value the regulatory nature of policy 
  • Appreciate the importance of being involved in public policy as a means of improving the quality and availability of food and nutrition services for the community

Contact Information

Adrienne A. White, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Human Nutrition and Food and Director, Dietetic Internship Program
The University of Maine white@umenfa.maine.edu

Campaign for the Civic Mission of Schools: Education for Democracy