AMST 352
Grassroots Organizing and Civil Resistance Spring 2019
Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
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Class Details

This course examines the ways that ordinary people exercise collective power to influence elites, access resources, and even topple authoritarian governments. We will explore a variety of case studies–from the U.S. labor movement and urban community organizing, to recent direct action campaigns to prevent climate catastrophe–in order to gain insight into the art and science of grassroots mobilization. The class will make use of scholarship from the fields of history, sociology, and peace studies to probe the nature of political consent and the efficacy of forms of nonviolent action, such as boycotts, strikes, and blockades. Most importantly, however, we will draw from the personal expertise, tool kits, and training manuals of on-the-ground organizers to develop practical skill sets that can be applied in a variety of settings. Students will gain hands-on experience with important organizing techniques, such as power-mapping, 1-on-1 conversations, and action scenario planning. We will also consider the importance of expressive cultures and artistic practices to social change efforts, and delve into abiding challenges, such as building coalitions across race and class differences. The course will prove useful for those considering careers in social work, the labor movement, international NGOs, the law, public education, or political journalism.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3014
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: attendance and participation; in-person skills assessments; group project; short essay-style final exam
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: American Studies majors
Distributions: Division II Difference, Power, and Equity
Notes: DPE: The class combines knowledge generated by social scientists with the practical know how of grassroots organizers on the most effective ways for people without significant financial resources to change opinions, laws, and regimes. Students practice specific skills such as one-on-one organizing conversations, power-mapping, strategic messaging, and planning of nonviolent direct actions to gain attention or bargaining leverage. We directly discuss different meanings and forms of power, and we address ways movements can build coalitions among diverse constituencies.
Attributes: AMST Arts in Context Electives
AMST Comp Studies in Race, Ethnicity, Diaspora
AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives

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