Wednesday, October 04, 2006

New Study on Activist Training in Academia

Recently Eli Pariser, the Executive Director of MoveOn.Org, made the following comment about Antioch University’s five-year-old Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program:

"Lots of people care about the future of our country, but not all of them are as active or effective as they could be. There are just too few institutions that help inspire, train, and nurture progressive activists. That's why I'm so excited about Antioch University New England's Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program. It's a graduate program that offers in-depth activist training and even connects its graduates into an ongoing support network. I encourage everyone seeking to work as a public interest advocate or a grassroots organizer to check out Antioch's advocacy and organizing program."

I am glad Eli gets what we are trying to accomplish--and I am also happy to report that we are increasingly fielding calls from innovative educators who are considering setting up similar activist training programs at their own schools.

Well, I now have an in-depth resource to offer such educators—my recently completed thesis entitled Activist Training in the Academy: Developing A Master’s Program In Environmental Advocacy and Organizing. This curriculum action research report offers readers two key things. First, it provides a discussion of the key theoretical issues facing educators who might want to create activist training programs at their own colleges and universities. This section describes my own journey as an educator in higher education; includes a history of several activist training programs inside and outside of academia; offers a detailed look at what advocates and organizers most need to know, and then looks at what are the most appropriate educational techniques for academic training programs geared to activists.

In the second section, Activist Training in the Academy offers a detailed case study of the development process and curriculum design of the master’s program in Environmental Advocacy and Organizing I have directed since 2002 at Antioch University’s Keene, New Hampshire campus. This section includes the original proposal for the program, a report on the faculty’s initial response, the key questions they needed answered before agreeing to launch the new program, and an outline of the basic curriculum design we developed for the Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program.

This new study on activist training in academia is available online and is also available at cost in hard copy. For more information contact:

Steve Chase
Director, Environmental Advocacy and Organizing Program
Department of Environmental Studies
Antioch University New England
40 Avon Street, Keene, NH 03431


At 3:22 PM, Anonymous Liz in Illinois said...

I'm curious.. I understand the politics in higher ed/academia can be pretty nasty, especially when it comes to things like service-learning and community-based research or other hands-on, outside the ivory tower learning. Have you encountered alot of slack from academics about the program? Is there still pressure to meet the academia's "standards" for publishing?

I ask because I'm interested in how other faculty and academics react to the program. Do you worry that if you (as program faculty or chair) want to go elsewhere - to another school or program - that you won't necessarily meet their requirements? Are you worried about that?


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