Politics, Activism, & Leadership Program

Emerson College Pre-College Programs


Boston, MA


Jul 6 - Jul 28




The Arts & Communication Pre-College Programs offer intensive summer experiences for high school students. Pre-College at Emerson offerings are challenging, fun, and designed to teach students competitive, practical skills in one academic area of communication and the arts. Living as an on-campus Emerson student, you will have access to instructors, resources, and spaces (i.e. tv studios, camera kits, sound stages, etc.) used by Emerson undergraduate students. A few select programs can also be completed for academic credit.

The on-campus Politics, Activism, and Leadership Institute (PAL) is for high school students who wish to understand how communication is at the heart of politics, activism and leadership in a democratic society. The Institute is focused on a number of important issues, including, community activism, social justice, civic engagement, public service, scandal/crisis management, speechwriting, grassroots organizing, and communicating with the media. Within these issues, additional topics will be explored including the role of law in advocacy, implicit and explicit bias, storytelling around the globe, focus group research, intercultural politics, political journalism, personal branding, message campaign approaches, among many others.

Discussions and projects related to the influence of social media platforms, including TikTok, Twitter, and Instagram, will also be threaded throughout the three weeks. All participants will be encouraged to “find their voice” as we journey through the various activities, seminars, guest speakers, and field trips. Field trips, both virtual and in person, to the USS Constitution, Black Heritage Trail, and the Freedom Trail, will also find PAL participants in the throes of history.

Throughout the three weeks, PAL participants will learn and talk about advocacy and communication as these are central for young people in both developed and developing nations. Unpacking and respecting complex real-life situations will be front and center throughout the PAL experience. Whether you’re interested in what takes place behind the scenes or in front of an audience, the Institute rests upon the belief that young people can be active agents within your communities both today and in the future, and serve as ambassadors and advocates for various causes and issues.

Each week, staff will allocate time to participants as they prepare a “Speech of Advocacy” to be delivered on the last day of the Institute in front of family, friends, staff, and guests. Speeches will be adjudicated by staff members and a final tape of performances will be available to all participants.

The Politics, Activism, and Leadership Institute is offered as a noncredit or college credit program option.

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The Political Communication, Advocacy, and Leadership Institute for High School Students (PAL) is aimed at high school students who wish to understand the crucial role of communication in politics, advocacy and leadership in a democratic society. The Institute is centered upon a number of important issues, including public service, social advocacy and civic engagement, crisis management, public policy, global politics, grassroots organizing, and communicating with the media. The Institute's staff members are dedicated to an expansive view of politics. Therefore, various discussions on the interplay between politics and global understanding will also take place.

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