Public Policy Initiative

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Wikimedia Director Sue Gardner shows 11 packs of printer paper: the equivalent volume of content produced by students in the Wikipedia Public Policy Initiative.
Campus Ambassadors in Washington, D.C.

The Public Policy Initiative was a pilot project, run by the Wikimedia Foundation in 2010–11, to explore the use of Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education. Professors at public policy programs in universities in the United States participated, assigning their students to improve articles on the English language Wikipedia. The Foundation provided lesson plans, and coordinated with the Wikipedia volunteer community to provide Wikipedia Ambassadors, who served as mentors for the first-time Wikipedians.

See Public Policy Initiative Learning Points for a comprehensive report on the learnings from the pilot program.

Wikipedia Ambassadors

As part of the Initiative, the Wikimedia Foundation trained Wikipedia Campus Ambassadors and Wikipedia Online Ambassadors, who in turn helped guide students as they became Wikipedians. Campus Ambassadors provide in-person training, including Wikipedia editing lessons. Online Ambassadors are Wikipedians who serve as virtual mentors to the students, helping them on-wiki and with online chat tools. For more information, see the Wikipedia Ambassador Program page.

Wikipedia Teaching Fellowship

The Wikipedia Teaching Fellowship program is being designed in concert with the Public Policy Initiative. Professors who agree to commit a significant portion of course and assignment time to Wikipedia, with the assistance of Campus and Online Ambassadors, are awarded the designation of Wikipedia Teaching Fellow in recognition of their commitment to using Wikipedia as a teaching tool in higher education.

Project Research

Our Initiative is generously funded by a grant, so one important facet of our undertakings with this project is to create a report that describes how our Initiative has changed the public policy articles on the English Wikipedia. Amy Roth, the Public Policy Initiative's research analyst, has been working on a Public Policy Initiative Evaluation and Research plan. We are assessing the quality of the public policy articles on Wikipedia at several points throughout the Initiative to track changes to the article quality.

Research Findings


A full list of Fall 2010 participants, including professors, Online Ambassadors, and Campus Ambassadors, is available here. See the Spring 2011 participants in action at WikiProject United States Public Policy.

Advisory Board

The Public Policy Initiative's Advisory Board, with eight members from the academic, policy, and Wikimedia communities, helps guide the Initiative. Advisory Board members provide feedback on the work we're doing, help us answer the big questions, and look for opportunities for research based on the work we're doing.

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Media coverage

Internal media coverage

Student profiles

Background information