Community and Environmental Sociology 573: Community Organization and Change

The web address for this syllabus is:

Professor: Randy Stoecker
Office:  Ag Hall 340d
Office Hours: by appointment
Phone:  890-0764

Spring, 2019
M 2:25-5:25pm
2301 Sterling


The university administration is now mandating that faculty include certain content in their syllabi. Here is the content complying with that mandate:

OK, now on to the syllabus.

WELCOME... Community Organization and Change.  This course will focus on the rich history and contemporary practices of the craft called community organizing.  This is the work of the famous Saul Alinsky, the 1950s and 1960s Civil Rights Movement, and more recently people such as Barack Obama and many people who aren't famous.  It is, fundamentally, about oppression and inequality and the struggles for social change that come from them. 

Course and learning Goals

The university administration now also requires syllabi to include learning goals. My main goal for this course is for you to learn about the philosophy, history, and practices of community organizing. We will develop other and more specific goals during our first class meeting and they will then be included here

Our department has agreed to the following learning goals for the overall curriculum: 1. Understand how social science arguments are constructed and evaluated. 2. Develop ability to assess data quality and understand whether particular data is appropriate to answer specific questions. 3. Learn general theories on basic social processes, especially those related to the relationships between society and the environment and the social organization of communities. 4. Learn communication skills in the social sciences.

Statement on Diversity

The Good Society will not come from an exclusive and very powerful few people representing only one set of experiences. It will come from many voices representing many life experiences. Likewise, the best knowledge will come from many voices speaking and listening and combining their wisdoms. I will do everything in my power to create a classroom environment that welcomes and includes diverse perspectives, especially perspectives that have been historically silenced through one or another form of structural discrimination. I welcome the voices of people of all races, ethnicities, and nationalities; all sexual and gender identities; all body types; all spiritualities; all economic classes; all language backgrounds; all family types; all combinations of abilities and learning styles; all participation in international, national, and community service including activism and protest. And I encourage those who feel invisible in relation to these diversities to educate me so that I can welcome you as well. I cannot promise you a "safe" environment. In the current state and national political climates there are no "safe spaces," not even for me. I can only promise you that I will do my utmost to create a "brave space" where people can hopefully gradually feel powerful enough to speak from their experiences and thoughtfulness and contribute to knowledge diversity for all of us. I will also admit that I will do that imperfectly and welcome you to hold me accountable so that my deeds live up to my words.

Learning Needs

It is very important to me that everyone is able to maximize their learning in this class. While, of course, you are responsible for much of that, I am responsible for creating a space where your learning style is respected. I always welcome, and will actively seek, feedback on how well the class process fits your learning style. I also welcome you to inform me of any learning needs that require adjustments in how the class materials are presented and how the class process is organized.

Student Health

We are facing a student mental health crisis not just at UW-Madison but in higher education institutions across the country. Sadly, our society still stigmatizes mental health as if it is somehow different from other forms of health. I reject that stigmatization. Diabetes and depression, just as examples, are both real health conditions, they both respond to treatment (and interestingly both can be at least partly treated with behavioral interventions as well as with medication), and they both can impact one’s quality of life. I urge you to get treatment for mental health conditions the same way I would urge you to get treatment for any other health condition. I was also trained in counseling long ago (though I am not licensed) and am always willing to have an initial conversation with you and support you in seeking treatment from licensed professionals. You can access information about UW mental health services at .

My Philosophy of Education

When teachers realize they still have things to learn and students realize they have things to teach, and when everyone is in an atmosphere where both students and teachers are encouraged to learn and teach, everyone benefits.

My job is to create and maintain a learning atmosphere where everyone feels comfortable taking intellectual and interpersonal risks, and to help you do your part in maintaining that atmosphere. I welcome critiques of ideas, especially my own. In the end, the best learning comes from connecting through our differences, especially if we practice respect for each other as people while we question and criticize each other’s ideas.

Professor Consultations

Please feel welcomed to consult with me whenever you have a question about course assignments, lectures, discussions, readings, or project activities. I will gladly discuss questions you have about the course material and our class process. Please also fee welcomed to consult with me whenever you find yourself interested in the issues raised in the course and you want to discuss further or get more information.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

You should know that you have specific rights that include accommodations for religious observances, physician-documented illnesses, and disabilities. You also have the right to appeal grading and disciplinary procedures that normally begin with contacting the chair of the department, Gary Green, or 608-262-2710. If you do not feel comfortable contacting the chair you can contact the CALS Dean’s office at Of course, my goal is to structure and facilitate the course in such a way, that you feel comfortable contacting me about concerns you have.

You also have specific responsibilities that include things like avoiding plagiarism, not cheating on coursework, and treating each other with respect.

Another right/responsibility you have in this course is to collectively determine other rights/responsibilities and I will facilitate a process during our first class meeting for that purpose.

The Syllabus Process

Because this is a course in community organizing, much of the course will be experiential.   That includes the construction of the course itself. This is only the initial syllabus.  During the first course meeting we will have our own "community" meeting where we will develop learning goals and strategies.  We will focus on three topics:

  1. what everyone wants from the course:  our learning goals will come from this
  2. what each person can bring to the course:  our learning strategies will come partly from this
  3. what principles and ethics will govern our interactions as a group: our learning strategies will come partly from this

I will then produce a full written syllabus. Please note that this will not be a free for all.  The focus of the course will be strictly community organizing--how people who are historically excluded from power by discriminatory economic, political, social, and cultural systems can develop their collective abilities to get power.   I will also demand significant reading and writing (typically 60-100 pages a week of reading and 30-50 pages of writing for the semester).  So you need to come prepared to engage in a process that involves real work.

Resources for Constructing the Course

Besides my own past syllabi at,,,,, There are a variety of syllabi at


Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos, Tools for Radical Democracy


Here is the first course requirements: Due before our first class meeting (worth 5 points; -1 point for every day late beginning as soon as class starts), is an approximately 500 word introductory essay on "What I want and what I bring." It is basically your thoughts on what kinds of things you want to get out of the class and what you bring to the class--which doesn't have to be limited to relevant experience but can also include what kinds of things you might bring to any quality classroom like inquisitiveness. It can include biographical information and intellectual information. You can see my example at the end of this syllabus.

Here are the other requirements through our class process.

You can choose your grade in this course. There are 131 possible points, and you can choose how many points you want by choosing the work you want to do. For undergratuate students the grading scale (in points, not percentages) is:

93 points and up = A, 88-92 = AB, 83-87 = B, 78-82 = BC, 70-78 = C, 60-69 = D, <60 = F

Graduate students, please add 15 points to that scale (you can do the extra points in either reflections or projects). So your scale is:

108 points and up = A, 103-107 = AB, 98-102 = B, 93-97 = BC, 85-92 = C, 75-84 = D, <75 = F

The points come from the following options:

Reflections: There are 12 opportunities to do reflections (including the day when Randy may be gone and finals week). Each reflection is worth 8 points (96 total points), -1 point for each day late starting with the beginning of class that day. The evaluation criteria for reflections will be that you use at least one specific part of each reading or chapter (just note the author and the page number) as a jumping off point for your reflections and that you write at least 250 words and try to limit yourself to 500 words. I will evaluate how accurately you present the portions of the readings you use, but I will not grade your reflections. You can reflect on each reading separately, or in combination or comparison. Note: an incomplete grade will not be available to make up late reflections, but only for final projects.

Project(s): You can choose to do up to 30 points worth of project work (45 points for grad students). You can roughly define how many points a project might be worth by thinking in terms of roughly 1-2 points per hour of work. You can do a single project or multiple projects. For each project you need to contact me by email, before you begin, with a proposal on what you want to do, what your timeline will be, and how many hours you plan to put in. In most cases I will require check-ins or rough drafts as you progress so that we make sure we agree on the scope and the quality of the project.

Attendance: You do not get points for attending but you can lose points if you have more than two absences. After two absences you will lose 8 points for each absence. However, you can recover those points by writing a reflection for the day you missed. Note that you can submit a reflection for the readings for a class day even if you are not there. And then you can also do an extra reflection on four of the optional readings for that same day if you need to recover points. I have kept attendance from the beginning so I will count all class periods.


Week 1, Jan. 28:  Introduction and Course Design

In order to have a productive discussion there will be both a reading assignment and a writing assignment due at the beginning of the first class meeting on January 23.  When you do the reading, bring questions, objections, critiques, and reactions to talk about in class.  When you do the writing, do it to contribute to our planning the rest of the course.

Reading Assignment:

Randy Stoecker.  2010.  Has the Fight Gone out of Organizing?  Shelterforce, spring.

Ellen Ryan.  2010.  Whatever Happened to Community Organizing?  COMM-ORG Papers

People's Action.  2018.  Progressive Populism.

(I feel a need to post a disclaimer about this article, since professors in Wisconsin no longer have strong tenure protections and therefore can have their positions threatened by people in power who don't like what they offer their students. Please don't read this article as a statement of fact but as an editorial. I mostly am interested in the last section, which is more a critique of many of you and I, than I am of the earlier sections.) Gary Potter. 2016. No pasarán! Anti-Fascist Organizing in the Era of Trump.

Writing Assignment:

Due no later than the beginning of class on January 28, is an approximately 500 word essay on what you want from the course and what you are able and willing to bring to the course.  Please upload your essay on Canvas.   The purpose of this assignment is for you to do careful reflection on your interests and your own resources and skills.  It will be worth five points of your final grade and will be graded as a serious writing assignment. So put your best thinking and your best writing into it.  I will expect thoughtfulness and detail equal to my example below.  And it needs to be about community organizing.  You may not have had community organizing experiences, but you have other skills and knowledge you can bring to a class on community organizing.  And if you don't want to learn anything about community organizing, then this isn't the right course for you.  You can see my example assignment at the end of the syllabus.


Please also get Saul Alinsky's book, Rules for Radicals. We will read and discuss that the second week, which will buy us time to get the other readings in order after our first class planning session.

Week 2, Feb. 4--The starting point: Saul Alinsky

Reading Assignment:

Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals (It is because of Alinsky that we have a field called "community organizing" so it is important to understand where it came from. Please read the entire book. It's a fast read in comparison to most academic books. I also urge you to read it understanding its 1971 historical context. You will find language that you will likely define as racist and sexist, but it was not as commonly defined as such in 1971. That doesn't mean it wasn't racist or sexist--only that it wasn't defined so much that way.)


Saul Alinsky. 1965.  "The War on Poverty-Political Pornography"

Robert Fisher, "Neighborhood Organizing: The Importance of Historical Context"

Three Alinskys? by Peter Szynka, 2002,

Chris Valley.  2008.  Alinsky at 100.  Journal of Community Practice vol:16 iss:4 pg:527 -532.

Mike Miller.  2010.  Alinsky for the Left:  The Politics of Community Organizing.  Dissent

Donald Rietzes and Dietrich Rietzes.  1982.   Saul D. Alinsky:  A Neglected Source but Promising Resource. American Sociologist, Vol. 17 Issue 1, p47-56.

Wendy Plotkin. 1996. "Alinsky and Back of the Yards Neighborhood Council."

Wendy Plotkin. 1996 "Alinsky's involvement in Woodlawn in Chicago/The Woodlawn Organization."

Understanding Alinsky: Conservative Wine in Radical Bottles; CHARLES F LEVINE. The American Behavioral Scientist (pre-1986). Nov/Dec 1973. Vol. 17, Iss. 2; p. 279 (6 pages)

The influence of Saul Alinsky on the campaign for human development.Full Tba Available  By: ENGEL, LAWRENCE J.. Theological Studies, Dec98, Vol. 59 Issue 4, p636

Hillary Clinton's undergraduate thesis on Saul ALinsky 1969 or try

Interview with Saul ALinsky 1972 (originally in Playboy but now provided on independent sites) or

Week 3, Feb. 11:  The Less Visible Historical Origins of Community Organizing

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:

Ella Baker and Models of Social Change. Charles Payne. 1989. Signs, Vol. 14, No. 4. (Ella Baker, I believe, is as important to the field of community organizing as Saul Alinsky, because her work created the most democratic and progressive Civil Rights Movement organization--SNCC. Regrettably, I have not found any place where she wrote down her method.)

Carol Mueller. 2004. Ella Baker and the Origins of Participatory Democracy (scroll to p. 79).[Rhoda_Barnes,_Patrick_Bellegarde-Smith,_Elsa_Bark(

Dolores Huerta: Woman, Organizer, and Symbol. Richard A. Garcia. (Dolores Huerta is another neglected figure in community organizing. Cesar Chavez has been credited as creating a new model of "leader-organizer" with the United Farm Workers, but once you understand Huerta, it may be that he was the "leader" and Huerta was the organizer.)

Stacey K. Sowards (2012) Rhetorical Functions of Letter Writing: Dialogic Collaboration, Affirmation, and Catharsis in Dolores Huerta's Letters, Communication Quarterly, 60:2, 295-315.


Interview with Ella Baker, September 4, 1974.

Chris Crass. 2008. Organizing Lessons from Civil Rights Leader Ella Baker

Ella Baker: Free Agent in the Civil Rights Movement. Aprele Elliott. 1996. Journal of Black Studies, Vol. 26, No. 5.

"Neither Bedecked Nor Bebosomed": Lucy Mason, Ella Baker and Women's Leadership and Organizing Strategies in the Struggle for Freedom. Susan Glisson.

Ella Baker. By Lisa Y. Sullivan, Social Policy, Vol.30 no.2, Winter 1999.

Ella Baker and the Black Freedom Movement. Barbara Ransby. 2003

Dolores [movie]

A Dolores Huerta Reader. Mario T. Garcia. UNM Press.

Dolores Huerta Foundation,

Traditional and Nontraditional Patterns of Female Activism in the United Farm Workers of America, 1962 to 1980. Margaret Rose. Frontiers: A Journal of Women Studies, Vol. 11, No. 1, Las Chicanas (1990), pp. 26-32

Cesar Chavez: The Organizer's Tale:

United Farm Workers. The Story of Cesar Chavez.

A Way of Thinking about the History of Community Organizing,

An Internet Guide to Community Organizing,


Week 4, Feb. 18:  Funding and the Nonprofit Industrial Complex / Distinguishing Community Organizing from Community Development and other Models

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:


Incite! Women of Color Against Violence. 2007. The Revolution Will Not Be Funded. Excerpt at

Edgar Villanueva. 2018. Decolonizing Wealth: Indigenous Medicine to Heal Divides and Restore Balance. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Excerpt at

Community Development Compared to Community Organizing:

Jordan Yin. 1998. The Community Development Industry System. Journal of Urban Affairs.

Steve Callahan and colleagues. 1999. Rowing the Boat With Two Oars. COMM-ORG Online Papers.

Recommended Reading:

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. 2007. Resource B: Raising Money for Organizing, in Tools for Radical Democracy

Prentice Zinn. 2012. Strategic Philanthropy: Who Wins and Who Loses? Nonprofit Quarterly.

Claire Reinelt. 1994. Fostering Empowerment, Building Community: The Challenge for State-Funded Feminist Organizations. Human Relations. Volume: 47 issue: 6, page(s): 685-705.

Prentice Zinn. 2017. Exploring the Tensions Between Nonprofits and Foundations About Evaluation. AEA365.

Anand Giridharadas. 2018. When the Market is Our Only Language. On Being.

United Steel Workers. 2019. Historian Panelist Calls Out Billionaires For Not Addressing the Obvious.

What alternative models of development and philanthropy do we need to build local agency and power?Based on discussions at a convening in Johannesburg, South AfricaonJune22, 2018. James F. Capraro. 2004. Community Organizng + Community Development = Community Transformation. Journal of Urban Affairs, Volume 26, Number 2, pages 151–161.

Randy Stoecker. 2001. Community Development and Community Organizing: Apples and Oranges? Chicken and Egg? Prepublication version of chapter for Ron Hayduk and Ben Shepard From ACT UP to the WTO: Urban Protest and Community Building in the Era of Globalization.

Randy Stoecker. 2001. Report to the West Bank CDC: Primer on Community Organizing.

Randy Stoecker. 2001. Report to the West Bank CDC: Communities, CDCs, and Community Organizing.

Randy Stoecker. 2001. Report to the West Bank CDC: Community Organizing in Cedar-Riverside, Present and Future.

Randy Stoecker. 1995. "Community Organizing and Community Development in Cedar-Riverside and East Toledo: A Comparative Study." Journal of Community Practice, 2:1-23.

Week 5, Feb. 25:  Structural Constraints on Community Organizing and the Political Opportunity Structure / The Roles and Types of Community Organizers

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. Tools for Radical Democracy. Chapters 1, 2 and 8 and Resource H.

Recommended Reading:

10 Basic Steps in Community Organizing.

Move to Amend. 2016. A Guide to Power Mapping.

Wellstone. n.d. The Organizer's Guide to the Galaxy. Strategic Planning.

Tarrow S. 1998 . Power in Movement . New York : Cambridge University Press . 2nd ed.

Eisinger P . 1973 . The conditions of protest behavior in American cities . American Political Science Review. 81 : 11-28

Mark Winston Griffith. The Black Organizer Blues. 2003. Shelterforce. or Gotham Gazette,

Lee Staples. 2009. In Praise of Community Organizers. Social Work With Groups. Volume 32, Issue 4.

Josh Warren-White. 2009. From the Base: Revolutionary Left Community Organizing in the U.S. LeftRoots.

Szakos, K. L., & Szakos, J. (2007). We Make Change: Community OrganizersTalk About What They Do—and Why. Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt UniversityPress.

Week 6, March 4:  Empowerment, Allyship and Solidarity / Organization Structure, Decision-Making, and Communication

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment: TBA

Fighting racism and the limits of "ally-ship", by Khury Petersen-Smith and Brian Bean, 2015,

Moving Toward an Inclusive Model of Allyship for Racial Justice, by Viraj S. Patel, 2011,

Jo Freeman. The Tyranny of Structurelessness.

Joan Minieri and Paul Getsos. Tools for Radical Democracy. Chapter 4

Recommended Reading:

ROAR. 2016. From charity to solidarity: a critique of ally politics.

Randy Stoecker, forthcoming. The Fundamental Lesson. On Canvas at

Unsettling America. Allyship and Solidarity Guidelines.

The Anti-Oppression Network. Allyship.

Overcoming Oligarchy: Culture and Agency in Social Movement Organizations by Paul Osterman

Black Southern Student Sit-in Movement: An Analysis of Internal Organization by Aldon Morris

"Community, Movement, Organization: The Problem of Identity Convergence in Collective Action" Randy Stoecker.

"Organizational Structure, Authority and Protest: The Case of Union Organizing in the United States, 1990-2001" Andrew W. Martin.

"Leader-Member Conflict in Protest Organizations: The Case of the Southern Farmers' Alliance" Michael Schwartz; Naomi Rosenthal; Laura Schwartz.

Week 7, March 11:  Understanding Confrontation and Conflict / Choosing Issues, Strategies, and Tactics

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:

Community Toolbox. Training for Conflict Resolution.

Minieri and Getsos, Tools for Radical Democracy, chapters 7, 9, 13

Recommended Reading:

Workers Solidarity Alliance. no date. Build Your Own Solidarity Network.

Elaine Shpungin. 2010. The Most Important Thing To Know About Conflict. Psychology Today.

John Lash. 2013. OP-ED: Embracing the Feedback of Conflicts. Juvenile Justice Information Exchange.

Moshe ben Asher. 2002. Conflict and cooperation in Macro Theory and Practice

Donna Crawford and Richard Bodine. 1996. Conflict Resolution Education. U.S. Department of Justice.

Edward Kingston Jombla. no date. Role of Community Development Organizations in Conflict Resolution. Useful Community Development.

@rfay. 2014. Develop a conflict resolution process for community issues. Drupal.

Mind Tools. Conflict Resolution.

The rest of part 3 in Minieri and Getsos (you already read ch. 8).

"Leader-Member Conflict in Protest Organizations: The Case of the Southern Farmers' Alliance" Michael Schwartz; Naomi Rosenthal; Laura Schwartz.

"Neighborhood Strengthening through Community Building" Suzanne M. Singh

Week 8, March 18:  Spring Break

Optional Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection:a on any recommended readings--2 points per reading up to 8 points. Due 2:30pm on March 18.

Week 9, March 25:  Randy gone, no class

Optional Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection: reflect on any recommended readings--2 points per reading up to 8 points. Due 2:30pm on March 25.

Week 10, April 1:  Relationship-Building, Recruitment, and Leadership Development / Art and Music

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment: TBA

Minieri and Getsos, Tools for Radical Democracy, chapters 3 and 5

Return of the Protest Song, Salamishah Tillet, Atlantic, 2015,

Green, J. (2003). When political art mattered. New York Times.

Recommended Reading:

Lesbian Avengers' Civil Rights Organizing Project. Out Against The Right: An Organizing Handbook. See link to Recruitment

Montserrat Baras, Patricia Correa Vila, Juan Rodríguez Teruel. 2013. Comparing Incentives and Party Activism in US and Europe: PSOE, PP and the California Democratic Party. American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting

Lindsey P. Walker-Estrada. 2004. The Education and Liberation of the Poor in Community Organizing: The Personal Growth and Transformation of Leaders in the Anti-Displacement Project. COMM-ORG papers,

Moshe ben Asher. 2010. Staff Development and Leadership. COMM-ORG papers.

Community Toolbox, Chapters 13 and 14, Toolkit 6.

ROSC. Starting A Group. Community Organizer's Guide. Retrieved from:

ROSC. Building A Group. Community Organizer's Guide.

Citizen Participation in Neighborhood Organizations and Its Relationship to Volunteers' Self- and Collective Efficacy and Sense of Community by Ohmer, Mary L.

Overcoming Oligarchy: Culture and Agency in Social Movement Organizations by Paul Osterman

Vicki Carter. 1994. The Singing Heart of Highlander. New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development

Garofalo, Reebee, ed. Rockin'the boat: Mass music and mass movements. Boston, MA: South End Press, 1992.

Moya-Raggio, E. (1984). Arpilleras: Chilean culture of resistance. Feminist Studies, 10, 277–282.

Agosín, M. (1996). Tapestries of hope, threads of love: The Arpillera movement in Chile, 1974–1994. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press.

Groundswell Community Mural Project. (2000).

"The Emotional and Intellectual Aspects of Protest Music: Implications for Community Organizin

"Where Have All the Protest Songs Gone?" by Dan Goniprow

11 Great Hip-Hop Protest Songs, Clover Hope | August 19, 2014 in Vibe,

A History of Rap Songs Protesting Police Brutality By Justin Charity, Angel Diaz, David Drake, 2014, Complex,


Week 11, April 8:  Dealing with the Outside World--framing strategies for allies and enemies / negotiating with power / managing alliances/coalitions

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment: TBA

Minieri and Getsos, Tools for Radical Democracy, chapters 14 and 15

Robert D. Benford and David A. Snow. 2000. Framing Processes and Social Movements: An Overview and Assessment. Annual Review of Sociology, Vol. 26 pp. 611-639.

ACORN. no date. Tactics of Targets.

Recommended Reading:

Moshe ben Asher. 2002. Conflict and cooperation in Macro Theory and Practice

Community Toolbox, Chapters 34 and 35,

Joan M. Roberts, A Six-Step Development Framework to Build Successful Alliances, Coalitions and Partnerships. COMM-ORG papers 2005.

Amanda Tattersall, There is Power in Coalition: A Framework for Analysing the Practice of Union-Community Coalitions. COMM-ORG papers 2006.

Bonnie Azab Powell, 2003, Framing the Issue, UC Berkeley News,

Margaret Groarke. Organizing Against Overfinancing: The Northwest Bronx Coalition Campaign Against Freddie Mac. COMM-ORG papers 2003,

Week 12, April 15:  Youth Organizing; Organizing in Madison

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:

Angela Ards. 1999. Rhyme and Resist. The Nation. July 26.

Shawn Ginwright & Julio Cammarota (2007) Youth activism in the urbancommunity: learning critical civic praxis within community organizations, International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 20:6, 693-710.

Randy Stoecker, Karen Reece, and Taylor Rae Konkle. Forthcoming. From Relationships to Impact in Community-University Partnerships. Prepared for: Michael Seal (ed.) Participatory Pedagogic Peer Research: Community Involvement in Health and Social Care in Action, for Routledge. Available on Canvas at

Randy Stoecker, forthcoming. The Fundamental Lesson. Available on Canvas at

Recommended Reading:

A. A. Akom (2009) Critical Hip Hop Pedagogy as a Form of Liberatory Praxis,Equity & Excellence in Education, 42:1, 52-66.


Community Toolbox. Establishing Youth Organizations.

Melvin Delgado and Lee Staples. 2007. Youth-Led Community Organizing: Theory and Action. Oxford University Press.

Christens, B. D., & Dolan, T. (2011). Interweaving Youth Development, Community Development, and Social Change Through Youth Organizing. Youth & Society, 43(2), 528–548.

M ADAMS and MAX RAMEAU. 2016. BLACK COMMUNITY CONTROL OVER POLICE. Wisconsin Law Review. Not strictly about Madison, but co-authored by M Adams, Freedom Inc. co-director.

Freedom Inc. 2017 Annual Report.

Andy Kroll. 2011. What's Happening in Wisconsin Explained. Mother Jones, March 17.

Capitol Protests 2011 Oral History Project.

Week 13, April 22:  Food System Organizing; Global Anti-Fascist Organizing

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:

Mark Bray. 2017. Antifa: The Anti-fascist Handbook. Melville House, (chapter 3--counts as 4 points because it's long).

White, Monica M. 2011. “D-Town Farm: African American Resistance to Food Insecurity and the Transformation of Detroit.” Environmental Practice. Vol. 13 (4).

Nik Heynen, Hilda E. Kurtz, Amy Trauger. 2012. Food Justice, Hunger and the City. Geography Compass.

Recommended Reading:

Sydney Tarrow and David S. Meyer. 2019. Challenges of the Anti-Trump Movement. PArtecipazione e COnflitto, Issue 11(3) 2018: 614-645.

Steven Feldstein. 2018. Rethinking Antifa. The Blue Review.

Alexander Reid Ross. 2017. Against the Fascist Creep. AK Press.

Kim Kelly. 2017. A Historian of Antifa Explains America's Punchiest Leftist Movement. Vice.

Kim Kelly. 2018. What the Media Gets Wrong About Antifa. Medium.

Lily Rothman, 2018. What the Artist Behind a Comics-Style History of Anti-Fascist Resistance Thinks You Should Know About Antifa. Time.

Food Not Bombs. Hungry for Peace.

Dishing up local food on Wisconsin Campuses.

Joann Lo and Ariel Jacobson. (2011). Human Rights from Field to Fork: Improving Labor Conditions for Food-sector Workers by Organizing across Boundaries. Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts, Vol. 5, No. 1, pp. 61-82,

Thomas Macias. 2008. Working Toward a Just, Equitable, and Local Food System: The Social Impact of Community-Based Agriculture. Social Science Quarterly.

Week 14, April 29:  Self-Care and Safety / From Organizing to Sustained Movement / Future of Organizing

Writing Assignment: Reading Reflection--see Canvas

Reading Assignment:

Randy Stoecker. Forthcoming. About the Localized Social Movement. R. A. Cnaan and C. Milofsky (eds.), Handbook of Community Movements and Local Organizations in the 21st Century, Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research. Available on Canvas at

Robert Fisher, Yuseph Katiya, Christopher Reid, Eric Shragge. 2013. 'We Are Radical': The Right to the City Allianceand the Future of Community Organizing. 2013. The Journal of Sociology & Social WelfareVolume 40 Issue 1.

WBUR. 2017. One Scholar On The Future Of Black Lives Matter (audio and/or print).

Choose one article from the following (and consider the rest recommended):

Kim Tran. 2016. 5 Self Care Tips for Activists — ‘Cause Being Woke Shouldn’t Mean Your Spirit’s Broke. Everyday Feminism.

Sabrina Nelson. 2017. 8 Self-Care Tips For Activists. Bitch Media.

Activist Trauma Support. 2014. (choose one or more pages)

Human Rights Resilience Project. No Date. (choose one or more links)

Recommended Reading:

Shay. 2018. The Future of Community Organizing Through the Lens of Democratic Critical Theory. The Witches of the West.

Peniel E. Joseph. 2017. WHY BLACK LIVES MATTER STILL MATTERS. The New Republic.

Carlisle Larsen. 2016. The Future Of Black Lives Matter Under President Trump. Wisconsin Public Radio.

Unread self-care readings from required readings section

Finals Week, May 8, 10:05am:  no class

Final Reading Reflection Opportunity--see Canvas

Final projects due; absence makeup reflections due (submit makeup reflections to the a attendance assignment page).


Example First Class Writing Assignment

What I Want and What I Bring

Randy Stoecker

I don't exactly know why I became interested in how oppressed peoples organize to build their own power. But from a teenager on that has been my passion. I grew up in a very small and very conservative town in southeast Wisconsin, of rural working class parents.  I watched them scrimp and save and suffer the stress of making ends meet.  There was always food on the table and a roof over our heads, but their lives were preoccupied with the worry of having no job protection, few benefits (not even employer retirement plans), and a consequently uncertain future.  I chafed at the religious and cultural conservatism that surrounded me everywhere except on the TV and an older cousin who was in college just when campus political activism was reaching its nadir in the early 1970s (I didn't graduate high school until 1977).  Why I became so disenchanted with my immediate surroundings and so fascinated with the exciting turmoil beyond I don't know.  But I did.

Since then I have always wanted to find out how people without power can get more control over their own circumstances. That includes poor and working class people, people of color, people of marginalized genders and sexualities, youth, people with disabilities, and others. As a sociologist, I spent a lot of time learning how bad things are. So I am quite convinced that things are very bad indeed. The social structures of race, class, sex, ability, age, and others produce frightening and unjustifiable inequalities. But I get bored with learning how bad things are, and I don't need any more convincing. What I need to learn is how people successfully fight back against those oppressions and inequalities and build the kind of society we all deserve.

It's actually a lot more exciting for me to study how people fight back. First, even when they don't win, it is a lot more inspiring to study people's resistance than just how they got oppressed. And when they do win it's really inspiring. Thankfully, I had the good luck in graduate school to live smack dab in the middle of a neighborhood that fought back against a government-capitalist developer coalition that tried to literally bulldoze them off the map. Not only did they win, but they got to then redevelop their own neighborhood. The folks of the West Bank neighborhood in Minneapolis taught me how to be inspired.

But there are still far too few examples like that neighborhood. So one thing I want is to learn about is more examples, which I know are out there. My idea of a good vacation is to visit a city where there is good organizing going on and hang out with the group for a few days.  I also am trying to collect as many written examples--both successes and failures, as I can. I am especially interested these days in good examples of statewide organizing.  As you may know, here in Wisconsin we are seeing dramatic changes in state policy that are decimating voters' rights, workers' organizing rights, women's rights, nature's rights, and educational rights.  And the little organizing and mobilizing that has occurred has been wholly ineffective.  Even the changes in the executive branch of state government following the fall 2018 elections seem unable to turn us around. Many of those who voted for a still right-wing legislature in 2018 also supported the presidential candidate who won the most electoral votes in 2016. confrontation. Many of us are also convinced that many of those people voted either without accurate knowledge or with a disregard for accurate knowledge. These are very angry people. Everything we know about community organizing says they should be organizable. And yet they weren't organized as much as led in a way that is scary indeed. I want to learn more about that situation and how we might bring an organizing approach into this picture.

We need to understand how to organize people who continue to vote in ways that make their own lives worse rather than better--self-destructive voting has become a global phenomenon and it is scary indeed.

One of the other questions driving me is why some people seem so reluctant to embrace conflict and confrontation.  There seems to be a strong conflict-avoidance trend in community organizing, especially among the "faith-based" community organizing networks, that has reduced a lot of community organizing to a form of lobbying. There are some empirical questions behind this. Has there actually been an historical change in our culture that makes us more conflict avoiding?  Is our avoidance of conflict strategies what is making community organizing less successful?   This connects with my concerns about Wisconsin.  Currently there is very little community organizing occurring in Wisconsin or even Madison.  There are protests.  There is lobbying.  But there is very little power-based community organizing and I need to know why.

Something else I want is to have some fun building and being part of a learning community. What I enjoy most about this class is that it has some aspects of community organizing in its own process. At some point in the course during each of the past two semesters it felt like ownership of the class shifted from me to the students, and that made the class a lot more enjoyable for me.

I can bring a fairly long history of experience in working with such groups. I started learning about community organizing first-hand in that Minneapolis neighborhood in 1983, and formally started doing research with them in 1985. I've been working with them from time to time ever since, along with a wide variety of other groups.

I can't say that I'm an actual community organizer, though I've got a couple of successes under my belt (the most fun was organizing against my previous university when they wanted to replace a park with a parking lot in my neighborhood). But I also haven't just read about and studied what people have done. Instead, I have been involved in supporting community groups' organizing work. So I've mostly provided research support for community organizing groups to help them do their work better, using a method called participatory action research. I've worked with the famous ACORN most closely, but also with a number of unaffiliated neighborhood organizing groups in North America and Australia. I have helped such groups also by facilitating strategic planning and strategy development. Most recently I have worked with a southwest Madison community organizing effort,  a neighborhood organizing project in Waukesha, WI, an environmental organizing group in Monona, WI, and a network of hip-hop artists in Madison. 

Perhaps most importantly for this course, I have learned a lot about teaching by hanging out with community organizers. I've seen community organizers teach people lots of stuff, and I've never once seen them give a lecture. So I've also learned to teach by facilitating, mostly by reading about the work of two people--Myles Horton and Paulo Friere--both of whom developed models of community organizing that integrated community education and community organizing.