Alexandra Dufresne is the director of the State Policy Advocacy Clinic at the Jeb E. Brooks School of Public Policy. Founded in Spring 2023, the State Policy Advocacy Clinic advocates for data-driven public policies in New York state that advance the human rights of our state’s most vulnerable residents, many of whom are excluded from democratic decision-making. We focus on policies that support children, refugees and immigrants, people with low incomes, people living in rural areas, prison or immigration detention and people living with disabilities or serious unmet health care needs. Our policy initiatives come from state and local policymakers, professors and researchers at Cornell, national, state and local NGOs, reviews of data and academic literature and members of the community, especially those with lived experience. This year’s clinic has 23 students, both undergraduate and master’s level, from a variety of schools and disciplines.
We would like to write an article about the pedagogy of the clinic with the hopes of spreading the model across the U.S. Currently, the clinical model of education is common in medical and law schools, but very rare in policy schools, whether at the undergraduate or master’s level. In addition, to our knowledge, ours is the first clinic in the country to focus exclusively on state-level public policy design and advocacy.