Working Group on Organizing, Social Movements,
and the Academy
August 20-21, 1998
University of California, Davis
You can find the full set of notes by going to the detailed
You can find Rob Kleidman's comments on the Working Group by
going to Rob's Thoughts.
You can also look at the list of
The Working Group on Organizing, Social Movements, and the Academy gathered
together community organizers and leaders, foundation officials, and academics
for a two-day workshop to discuss ways of working together more effectively.
The notes on which this summary is based appear below the summary.
As with all summaries, this may not capture your experience of the
working group. If that is the case, please e-mail Randy Stoecker at email@example.com.
The Working Group was divided into the following sessions, in order:
Thursday, August 20
- Introductions and identification of expectations.
- Panel discussion of collaborations between organizers and funders.
- Small group discussions for academics, organizers and leaders, and
funders to separately identify their interests in forming collaborations/partnerships
with each other; and report backs from each group to identify common interests
and issues in collaboration.
Friday, August 21
- Reflective discussion in the large group on what happened Thursday.
- Small group discussions on the vision and reasons for collaborations/partnerships
(we originally planned to have special interest working groups for this
session, but the group decided to all focus on these larger issues instead);
and report backs to identify common themes.
- Discussion of next steps.
Below are the major outcomes of each step:
At the beginning, the most common expectations were for the Working
- help academics and organizers find each other and better understand
the work that they each do.
- better understand the role of funders in supporting such collaborations.figure
out how to bring the interests and resources of each group together.
- learn about real examples of collaborations.
- discuss the larger philosophical issues of collaboration and social
The panel discussion generated some important themes:
- how to move beyond utilitarian relationships to more sustainable partnerships.
- how to get funders more involved in supporting these kinds of partnerships.
- how to get academic institutions to better support partnerships.
The separate discussions of academics, funders, and organizers/leaders
found a number of common themes and issues:
- strong opposition to utilitarian relationships, in favor of deep encumbered
- overlap between academics and organizers: interested in the current
context, and making social change.
- public policy is an opportunity to develop partnerships, maybe by creating
a think tank.
- the pace of change is such that all parties need each other; and can
share in developing a theory of change.
- working together is more fun
- recognition that right wing is way ahead in visioning and framing issues
and context, and we need to get the word out
- how to get resources for this kind of work.
- the written culture of many academics vs. the oral culture of many
- academics wanting independence from particular community organizations.
vs. organizations saying they want to call the shots.
- the need to acknowledge unique other demands on each group
- the need for mutual respect.
- academics stresssed funders bringing groups together, organizers did
Each group also presented perspectives not echoed by the others, which
can be found in the detailed notes.
The Friday morning reflections were very diverse, but seemed
to focus on questions of how funders, academics, and organizers can develop
more solid (and less instrumental) relationships. Some people talked about
how to build something bigger--for some it was a bigger vision, for others
it was stronger coalitions, and for yet others it was a more powerful movement.
This conversation may have led many participants to want to discuss larger
issues of social change, as when we tried to break up into small groups
focused around a number of specific themes, the group really wanted to
focus on the question of vision. So we reconfigured the small groups to
focus on four questions:
- what is the context that creates a need or desire for collaborations/partnerships?
- What role might collaboratives/partnerships play in addressing the
context and how are they related to other responses?
- What could collaborations/partnerships look like?
- How could collaborations/partnerships influence the media and frame
The themes generated from these small group vision discussions
- there is a real hunger to talk about the bigger issues and strategic
visioning, not many opportunities
- there is a need to work together, but many things keep us apart.
- uncertainty over whether we agree on where we want to go--some see
more solidarity than others.
The discussions ranged widely, however, which are described in the detailed
Finally, there were some commitments to next steps:
- Jeannie Appleman will develop a list of funders who fund community
efforts, who are interested in developing relationships between organizing
and academia. Spence Limbocker will help on this; and will continue to
- Madeleine Scammell, of the Loka Institute is organizing a conference
on similar topics, and creating guidelines for community-academic partnerships.
- Randy Stoecker is writing up this report for distribution.
- Rob Kleidman is organizing a core group to develop further next steps.