Community Organizing Theory and Practice

Community Organizing Theory and Practice

Professor Daniel HoSang

This course focuses broadly on the history of social movements, social change efforts and community organizing, both in U.S. and in other countries. The course helps students engage several fundamental questions: What is community organizing and how can we trace its origins and development in the US? What key assumptions lie at the center of this approach to social and political change, and what differences and divisions characterize the field? How does race, class, gender, sexuality, neighborhood and nation shape different organizing traditions? Finally, what role has research and knowledge production played in community organizing history and practice. Across the term, the course pays particular attention to the ways that race, class, gender, sexuality, indigeneity and other forms of difference shape privilege and power. Many of the class sessions incorporate small group activities and other collaborative approaches and activities.

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Final Projects 

Over the course of the semester, students were paired with community-based organizing groups to complete a research project. Read about them here.

Speaker Sessions

Organizers from a wide range of backgrounds and focus areas came to share about their work and discuss questions with students. Click on one to learn more.

Student Insights

Notes on Organizing: Make the Road NY

The organization’s thousands of members are more than just subscribers – they are highly involved in the organization and are given meaningful points of entry

More Than Art: Indigenous Relationality and Futures

Countless people throughout the history of organizing have emphasized the importance of creating art within movements. This art not only allows for us to connect with each other, but also shows us the types of worlds that we are reimagining. This post highlights the work that Indigenous artists are producing throughout the world.

Worker Power

At the beginning of our conversation with Gerami, he introduced unionization as a mechanism of political power. Gerami defined unions as, put simply, an “organization of workers to join together to advance their common interests.”

Envisioning Changes

A common thread within our class has been the difference between mobilizing and organizing. Several social movements today fall into mobilization efforts, where groups spend the majority of their time already speaking to people who agree with them. Organizing, on the other hand, relies on building structures and relationships that will last longer than a…

Friendship as a Framework for True Solidarity

Relationships are the core of community organizing and power building, but how can these organizations create and maintain their values within systems that prefer hierarchies? Rinku Sen offered that if organizations embodied a framework of friendship instead of alliance, more organic and withstanding forms of relationality and solidarity can be formed.

Art as an Organizing Tool

As Eveline Shen of Forward Together reminds us, art is a powerful tool in organizing that allows us to connect to our shared humanity and reimagine the world. In this post, we have included some of the most inspiring and evocative pieces on the Forward Together platform that beautifully illustrate a reimagined world.


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