Overview

  • Time Frame: 2.5 or 3 hours. Longer time for more participants.
  • Suggested number of participants: 6-18
  • Materials needed: Blank thank you notecards [do I include worksheets here?]
  • Room Setup: tables of 4-6
Download the Curriculum

It’s easier than ever to enter the public conversation through a variety of forums such as Facebook, tweets and tirades at your local bar. Still, a well-crafted opinion piece holds sway. If you have the skills, discipline, rigor and leadership to put your ideas out into this more formal public conversation, you can share your viewpoint with thousands or even millions of influential people. This workshop will introduce you to the art of the op-ed, get you started on your very own op-ed and offer ideas on where you can pitch your finished piece. We bring in experts, including editors from major Twin Cities media, to help.

  • What is the value of a community and network for leadership?
  • Who is in your network? How are you connected to them? Why do you value these relationships?
  • What skills/competencies/perspectives are you interested in developing, and who can help you do so?
  • How do you keep connected and be of help to people in your community and network?
Facilitator Outcomes Participants will be able to:
  1. Introduce the perspective that a vibrant network and community is essential for developing as a leader, having impact, and making progress in one’s career. Clarify the idea that being generous in these relationships is important for transformational work.
Describe why relationships matter for leadership, careers, and impact and express understanding that generosity in relationships is helpful in this work.
  1. Describe the process of drawing one’s network and give participants the opportunity to practice.
Visualize their own key relationships and networks and recognize important connections, missing links, and useful patterns.
  1. Provide an overview of thinking through mentoring relationships starting from the perspective of skills/capacity development and have students work through a structure process from this perspective. Facilitate conversation about this process.
Articulate skills/capacities they would like to develop and identify potential people who could be mentors for developing these skills/capacities.
  1. Facilitate conversation about strategies for following up on connections and maintaining relationships. Have students write a thank you note.
Discuss ways to keep vibrant network connections and use the tool of writing a thank you note.
  1. Build a community in the room and demonstrate the idea that everyone has something to give through sharing activity.
Recognize that they have many things to offer others in their networks and community and practice doing so.
  1. Debrief workshop and ask students to commit to an action to work on their community/network/mentoring relationships.
Propose an action step or two to improve network relationships.
 

Workshop Materials

 

    Sample Agenda

    1:30 – 2:00 Introductions & Icebreakers

    2:00 – 2:30 Connecting the Dots of Your Cultural Background

    • Values Exercise
    • Salsa, Soul & Spirit Exercise
    2:30– 2:40 Break
    2:40-3:00 Presentation
    3:00-3:50 Case Study: Why Diversity Can Lead to Better Ideas
    4:10-4:30 Reflection & Integration

    Ask students to share what actions steps they will be taking.

    Pre-Workshop Email
    We recommend sending out the pre-workshop email one-week before and a short follow-up two days before the workshop. This workshop does not require any pre-work before the workshop, but you could include a link to a TED Talk to help prime students for the workshop experience.

    Here’s an example:

    Dear Workshop Participants:

    Thank you for signing up for the Developing Intercultural Competence workshop. The workshop will take place in the [Learning and Environmental Sciences Building on the St. Paul campus] from [time-time] in [room] on [Date].
    [Insert description of workshop].

    There is no pre-work required for this workshop. You will need a pen. If you do have 18 minutes to spare, we recommend watching this TED Talk, “The danger of a single story” before the workshop.

    We look forward to meeting with you soon,

    [Your name]

    Post-workshop handout

    Post-workshop email

    We recommend sending out the post-workshop email within a day or two of the completion of the workshop, to remind participants of any actions they planned to take on going forward, and to get feedback while experience is still fresh. For this workshop, .

    Here’s an example:

    Dear Workshop Participants:

    Thank you for attending up for the In My Opinion workshop. We hope you now feel confident and prepared to write formal opinion columns, and are actively thinking about submitting one soon. 
    We’re always looking to make these workshops more useful and effective, so please take moment to complete the attached survey and let us know what was helpful about the workshop and what else you would hope to gain from a future workshop.
    Thank you
    [Your name]
    Survey Example
    Click here for Google form.
    Ideally, the post-workshop email will include a link to post survey utilizing Survey Monkey, Google Forms, or a similar easy-to-use application. Here are some examples of questions:
    Did you gain the skills you hope to gain from this workshop?

    If not, what did you hope to learn that you would like to see in a future workshop?

    What were the most valuable take-aways?

    Do you have a better understanding of the value of a good opinion column?

    Do you now feel confident enough to write and submit one?

    Please use this space to offer any other feedback you feel would be useful for the facilitators and for future workshops.

    References

    Gamson, W. A., & Modigliani, A. (1989). Media discourse and public opinion on nuclear power: A constructionist approach. American journal of sociology95(1), 1-37.

    Golan, G., & Wanta, W. (2004). Guest columns add diversity to NY Times’ op-ed pages. Newspaper Research Journal25(2), 70-82.

    Nelson, T., & Kinder, D. (1996). Issue Frames and Group-Centrism in American Public Opinion. The Journal of Politics,58(4), 1055-1078. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.ezp2.lib.umn.edu/stable/2960149

    Hoffman, L. H., & Slater, M. D. (2007). Evaluating Public Discourse in Newspaper Opinion Articles: Values-Framing and Integrative Complexity in Substance and Health Policy Issues. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly84(1), 58–74.

    Videos

    Thomas Friedman Explains How to Write an Op-Ed 
    Best selling author and journalist Thomas Friedman explains the purpose and key elements of an effective op-ed.

    Getting Published in the News Media 
    A Harvard University panel discussion on how University researchers can increase their impact by writing effective opinion pieces.

    A History of the art on the New York Times Op-Ed page
    The world’s most famous op-ed page has framed the world’s biggest stories with both words and pictures, and is instructive in terms of how readers learn to think about issues.

    Websites

    The Union of Concerned Scientists
    Find opinion writing and submission tips specifically for scientific researchers.

    Duke University Communicator Tool Kit
    How to write an op-ed, and a variety of other tools for academics doing public writing.

    Attending Boreas workshops has allowed me to learn and implement several valuable leadership tools in an increasingly connected world and how to present myself in a professional manner on paper, online, and in person.

    Image

    Melaney Dunne

    Master's Student Conservation Biology