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 notes.

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 participants.


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 Thank you.

The Working Group was divided into the following sessions, in order:

Thursday, August 20

  1. Introductions and identification of expectations.
  2. Panel discussion of collaborations between organizers and funders.
  3. 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

  1. Reflective discussion in the large group on what happened Thursday.
  2. 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.
  3. Discussion of next steps.

Below are the major outcomes of each step:

At the beginning, the most common expectations were for the Working Group to:

The panel discussion generated some important themes:

The separate discussions of academics, funders, and organizers/leaders found a number of common themes and issues:

    1. strong opposition to utilitarian relationships, in favor of deep encumbered relationships.
    2. overlap between academics and organizers: interested in the current context, and making social change.
    3. public policy is an opportunity to develop partnerships, maybe by creating a think tank.
    4. the pace of change is such that all parties need each other; and can share in developing a theory of change.
    5. working together is more fun
    6. recognition that right wing is way ahead in visioning and framing issues and context, and we need to get the word out

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:

The themes generated from these small group vision discussions included:

The discussions ranged widely, however, which are described in the detailed notes.

Finally, there were some commitments to next steps: