Information Access Practicum – 6068
This course will expose students to the theory and practice of government secrecy law at the state and federal levels. The heart of the course will be practice-based. Students will be paired with non-governmental organizations to assist those organizations with government secrecy related legal, policy, and public education work. The exact work and mix of organizations may change somewhat from year to year. The organizations most likely will include the Minnesota Coalition for Government Information and Public Record Media. Students will assist the groups on projects ranging from litigation appealing the denial of information under the Minnesota Data Practices Act or the federal Freedom of Information Act, lobbying the Minnesota state legislature regarding amendments to the Data Practices Act, and preparing white papers or other public education and advocacy materials.
Students also will meet as a class for occasional (roughly every other week) seminar-style discussions. Those discussions will explore the students’ work experiences, current events involving government secrecy, and assigned readings on the Minnesota Data Practices Act, the federal Freedom of Information Act, and other aspects of state and federal government secrecy law. Class meetings will be supplemented by multiple individual meetings per student with the professor and with the non-faculty attorneys or others who are supervising and working with the students. Class meetings may also be supplemented with full-group or partial-group “field trips” to legislative hearings, public education sessions, or other events.
Each student will be required to submit two short papers reflecting on their practical experiences and relating those experiences to some broader set of policy, legal, or theoretical concerns. The first paper will be due mid-semester. The second paper will be due at the semester’s end. Students will be evaluated for their class and small group meeting participation, their short papers, and the quality of their work with the outside groups.