MLD-377 | A612

Spring 2019Organizing Logo


Marshall Ganz

124 Mt. Auburn - Suite 200N-224



Tuesday/Thursday, 2:45 –4:00

Littauer – 140


Mondays 2:30 – 4:30pm

Sign up online 


Heather Adelman

124 Mt. Auburn - Suite 200N-217B



Head Teaching Fellow:

Anita Krishnan

Section 1: Sanjay Seth


Section 2:  Toni Kokenis


Section 3: Gabe Hodgkin


Section 4: Jon Shaffer

124 Mt. Auburn, Suite 100N, Room 106


Section 5: Aditi Parekh

124 Mt. Auburn, Suite 160S, Room 105

 “In democratic countries, knowledge of how to combine is the mother of all other forms

of knowledge; on its progress depends that of all the others.” — Alexis de Tocqueville


Fulfilling the democratic promise of equity, accountability, and effectiveness requires the participation of an “organized” citizenry able to formulate, articulate, and assert its shared interests. Organizing, in turn, requires leadership: accepting responsibility for enabling others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Organizers begin by asking three questions: who are my people, what challenges do they face, and how can they turn their resources into the power they need to meet these challenges? Organizers identify, recruit, and develop leadership; build community around that leadership; and build power from the resources of that community.

In this course, each student learns to practice leadership by organizing a leadership team to work with him or her to mobilize members of a “constituency” to work together to achieve real outcomes in pursuit of a shared purpose by the end of the semester. Students learn five core leadership practices: building public relationships, turning values into a capacity for agency through public narrative, turning resources into power by strategizing, turning intentions into effective action, and structuring organization to develop leadership, engage constituents, and achieve goals. Students learn to coach others and receive coaching. Students also learn to distinguish “mobilizing” from “organizing” and why it takes organizing to make mobilizing count.


This course is for students interested in learning to create social change through collective action. There are no prerequisites. Students with and without “real world” organizing experience can find the class equally useful. Students with a strong a commitment to the community, organization, or values on behalf of which they are working will be most successful. Because it is a course in practice, it requires trying new things, risking failure, and stepping outside your comfort zone. As reflective practitioners, students learn through critical reflection on their experience, feedback, and coaching. If you are not prepared for this kind of challenge, this class is not for you.



Students base class work on their experience participating in a leadership team responsible for organizing others to work with them in an "organizing campaign" of their own design.  An “organizing campaign” requires recruiting members of a constituency to join in achieving a clear outcome in pursuit of a shared purpose by the end of the semester. This should require an average of 8 hours per week in addition to class work although it varies from week to week. You may choose a project on which you are working, initiate a new one, or work with a community or campus organization.

Students are welcome to use their organizing project to advance work that they are already doing on campus or in the community.


  1. Getting Started. The course is front-loaded to offer students the opportunity to acquire basic skills useful in their organizing projects.
  1. Team Formation: You will form a leadership team of 3-5 people drawn from among other students in the class, around shared values and change you want to make in the world.
  2. One-to-One Meetings: To facilitate project development – and get acquainted - students will meet one-to-one with their teaching fellow for 10 to 15 minutes in the third week of class (Feb 11 – 15).
  3. Organizing Workshop: On Saturday, February 16th from 8:00 am to 5:30 PM you are required to participate in an Organizing Workshop to launch your leadership team, make a first draft of your campaign plan, and acquaint yourself with organizing practices you will use in your projects. Please pack a lunch. Location: Taubman 520, NYE A, B, C

  1. Class meets for 1 hour and 15 minutes, twice a week for 13 weeks. Students use a conceptual framework to integrate lectures and readings with critical reflection on their experience of their project. The sessions alternate between discussion of concepts and analysis of projects. You are required to attend all classes, do all the reading, and take an active part in discussions.  

  1. Reading is assigned only for Tuesdays (except for the first and last weeks of the course): it combines theory, practice, and history, and averages 105 pages per week. An introductory paragraph places each week’s readings in context. Priority readings are designated with “”. My “Organizing Notes” explain our framework, contextualize the readings and explain the charts. Recommended readings are available on the course site for those who wish to pursue a topic more deeply.

  1. Beginning in the third week of class, we meet in sections during Thursday’s class time. In sections, students meet in their teams, practice their skills, coach one another, and analyze their projects.

  1. Beginning in the third week of class, students submit reflection papers of no more than 2 pages, double spaced, 12 pt. font, 1” margins, in which they analyze their experience of their organizing project. Each week we pose questions to stimulate reflection. Papers are due each Wednesday at 12:00-midnight.  Of nine total reflection papers, you may skip two. But three of the remaining seven are required: February 14th, March 15th, April 25th. On Friday March 15th, in lieu of a response paper for that week, students submit a 4-page midterm analysis of their project: why it is or is not working.  

6.           Each team prepares a 7-minute presentation to be made to their section during the semester. Students introduce themselves, their project, and discuss how the project relates to the topic of the week.  Presentations conclude with questions for class discussion. A sign-up sheet for the presentations will be distributed during the first week of section.

  1. At the end of the term, on Friday May 10th, each student will submit a 7-page final paper analyzing their organizing project. Students are evaluated not on whether their project is a “success,” but on their demonstrated ability to analyze what happened, how and why.


  1. Final grades are based on class participation and weekly reflection (50%), the midterm progress report (20%), and final paper (30%).


The two books required for this course are available for purchase at the COOP and on reserve at Kennedy School and HGSE libraries.

                (1) Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, New York: Vintage, 1989

        (2) Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, New York: Vintage, 1989


All other required readings can be found online on the Canvas page 

Four recommended books can be purchased at the COOP. (Required readings drawn from these books are also found on course website)

(1) Ellen Langer, Mindfulness, New York: Addison-Wesley, 1989

(2) Marshall Ganz, Why David Sometimes Wins, New York, Oxford University Press, 2009

                      (3) Liz McKenna and Hahrie Han, Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America, Oxford University Press, 2015.

                      (4) David Walls, Community Organizing, Polity Press, 2015.


        The following is the schedule of class meetings and reading assignments. The approximate number of pages per week is indicated in italics beside the date. Special due dates are noted in italics.  Letters to the right of each reading indicate whether the focus is theoretical (T), practical (P), or historical (H).  And as described above, readings designated with “” are particularly important to focus on for class discussion.


WEEK 1 | OVERVIEW OF ORGANIZING | Tuesday, January 29 | 80 pp.

Welcome. Today we get acquainted, discuss course goals, our strategy for achieving them, and requirements. “What is Organizing” introduces our learning framework, explained more fully in "Leading Change: Leadership, Organization, and Social Movements.” Organizing is rooted in diverse traditions: in the West, for example, in faith, civic, and popular traditions. Organizing empowers constituents to act on their own behalf. It is not providing services to clients nor marketing products to customers: argued by Alinsky, McKnight, Giridharadas, and my colleagues and I. McAlevey and Tufekci distinguish between “mobilizing and “organizing.”  “Organizing to Win” argues the role of organizing in democratic renewal.  The “Organizing in Action” readings are snapshots of some recent examples of organizing efforts.

  1.  Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “What is Organizing?” (2019). (T)

  1. Marshall Ganz, “Leading Change: Leadership, Organization, and Social Movements”, Chapter 19 in Handbook of Leadership Theory and Practice, Nohria and Khurana; HBS Press, (2010), (pp. 527-568)(T).

  1. The Bible, Exodus, Chapter 2-6. (H)

  1. Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, Chapter 1, (October 1989), (pp.3-23). (P)

  1. John McKnight, "Services are Bad for People," (1991), (pp.41-44). (T)

  1. Anand Giridharadas, “Real Change Requires Politics”, New York Times, July 15, 2011 (T)

  1. Ganz, M., Kay, T., & Spicer, J, “Social Enterprise is not Social Change,” The Stanford Social Innovation Review, Spring 2018.(T)

  1. Jane F. McAlevey, “Table 1.1, Advocacy, Mobilizing, and Organizing”, No Shortcuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, (2016), pp.9-12. (T)

  1. Zeynep Tufekci, “Twitter and Tear Gas: the power and fragility of networked protest”, 2017), “Preface” (ix-xx).  (H)

  1. Ganz, Marshall, “Organizing to WinThe Nation, March 16, 2018. (H)

  1. Organizer’s Journey Handout, Jonah Evans, (2012)

ORGANIZING IN ACTION: the following are not required readings but some more recent examples of organizing at work in diverse settings.

  1. Zack Exley, “Stories and Numbers – a Closer Look at Camp Obama”, Huffington Post, August 29, 2007

  1. Hahrie Han, Want Gun Control? Learn From the N.R.A., New York Times, October 4, 2017.

  1. Peter Dreir, Black Lives Matter joins a long line of protest movements ..., Salon, Aug.15, 2015

  1. Doran Schrantz, “Building Power, Building Health”, SSIR, Spring 2016


  1. Aristotle, Politica, Book 1, Chapter 1-2, (2001), (pp.1127-1130). (T)

  1. Alexis De Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Volume II, Part II, Chapters 2-6, (2010), (pp.506-517). (H/T)

  1. E. E. Schattschneider, The Semisovereign People: A Realist's View of Democracy in America, "Introduction" xii-xvii; “The Contagiousness of Conflict", (1975), 1-19. (T)

  1. Theda Skocpol, Marshall Ganz, Ziad Munson, “Nation of Organizers: The Institutional Origins of Civic Voluntarism in the United States”, American Political Science Review, (September 2000). (H)

  1. David Walls, Community Organizing (Polity 2015), “Chapter 2: Saul Alinsky and the Industrial Areas Foundation” (pp.20 – 54); “Chapter 5: New Networks Innovate” (pp.92-113)

  1. Mike Gecan, Going Public, “Chapter 10, Three Public Cultures”, (2004), (pp.151-166). (P)

  1. Erica Chenoweth and Maria J. Stephan, Why Civil Resistance Works: the Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict, Chapters 1-3, (August 2011), (pp.1-82)

  1. Howard Spodek, “The Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in India: Feminist, Gandhian Power in Development”, Economic Development and Cultural Change 43 (1), (Oct 1994), (pp.193-202). (H)

  1. Brian D. Christens and Paula Tran Inzeo, “Widening the view: situating collective impact among frameworks for community led change, Community Development, (2015), (pp. 1 – 13).

WEEK 1| ORGANIZING PROJECT: PEOPLE, POWER, AND CHANGE | Thursday, January 31 | 160 pp.

Organizers begin by asking three questions: who are my people, what is their problem, how could they begin to use their resources to solve the problem? Who are your people? Who is your constituency whose values are at risk? What urgent challenge do they face? How could they turn resources they have into power they need to solve the problem? How could they design a campaign to achieve an outcome within the next 12 weeks?

What does organizing look like? How is it different from mobilizing? How is it different from marketing? We introduce elements of an organizing campaign in the context of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, a campaign that launched the American civil rights movement of the 1960’s. We ask 3 questions: who are the actors, what was their problem, and what is their theory of change?  My “Speaking of Power” focuses on the core role of power in organizing, how it works, and how to make it work for you. Gaventa shows us how to make invisible power visible. Alinsky and Miller help us consider reactions we may have to words we need to use to explain organizing, especially “power.” Gersick draws attention to timing: why we organize through campaigns, elaborated upon by Hirschhorn and May. Han makes a very important distinction between “mobilizing” and “organizing.” Thucydides considers the links between might and right.

  1.  Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “People, Power and Change”, Charts and Questions. (2019)  

  1.  Marshall Ganz, “Speaking of Power”, Gettysburg Project, (2014), pp. 1-5.

  1. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, “A Word About Words,” (1989), (pp.48-62). (P)

  1. Jean Baker Miller, Women’s Growth in Connection: Writings from the Stone Center, Chapter 11, “Women and Power,” (1991), (pp.197-205). (T)

  1. Hahrie Han, How Organizations Develop Activists, “Chapter One, Introduction”, (2014), (pp. 1-28).

  1. Connie Gersick, "Pacing Strategic Change: The Case of a New Venture," Academy of Management Journal, (February 1994), (pp.36-42). (T)

  1. "The Campaign Approach to Change", Hirschhorn and May, Change Magazine, (2010), pp. 30-37.

  1. Taylor Branch, Parting the Waters, Chapter 4, "First Trombone" (pp.120-142), Chapter 5, "The Montgomery Bus Boycott," (1998), (pp.143 -205). (H)  


  1.  “Creating Shared Strategy I” Organizing Participant Guide, pp. 1-13, 2016.


  1. Clayton Alderfer, Existence, Relatedness and Growth, Chapter 2, “Theory,” (1972), (pp.6-13). (T)

  1. Jerome Bruner, Acts of Meaning, Chapter 1, “The Proper Study of Man,” (1990), (pp.24-30).  (T)

  1. John Gaventa, Power and Powerlessness: Quiescence and Rebellion in an Appalachian Valley, Introduction, (1980), (pp.3-32).  (T)

  1. Max Weber, Economy and Society, Volume I, “Types of Social Action,” (1978), (pp.24-26). (T)

  1. Richard Emerson, “Power-Dependence Relations”, American Sociological Review, 27:31-41 (1962). (T)


  1. Max Weber, “Class, Status, and Party” in From Max Weber: Essays in Sociology, translated and edited by H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, (1946), (pp.180-195). (T)

  1. Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars, Book V, Chapter 7, “The Sixteenth Year – the Melian Dialogue,” (1954), (pp.400-408). (H)

  1. David Walls, Community Organizing (Polity 2015), “Chapter 3: An Organizing World View” (pp.55 -69).

  1. Bernard M. Loomer, “Two Kinds of Power,” The D.R. Sharpe Lecture on Social Ethics, October 29, 1975, Criterion, Vol. 15, No.1, (1976), (pp.10-29).  (T)

WEEK 2 | LEARNING ORGANIZING:| Tuesday, February 5 | 66 pp.

Today we focus on how we will be working together: how to develop theory from practice and use theory to inform practice. Kierkegaard alerts us to key differences between theory and practice. Thich Nhat Hanh offers a parable on their relationship. Dweck explains how to approach learning with a “growth” mindset as opposed to a “fixed” mind set. Langer challenges us to engage critically with theory. Sitkin argues short-term failure is often required for success . . . while fear of failure can ensure it.  Coaching is one of the key leadership skills we will use, enabling students to enable each other’s learning, even as they learn to coach their leadership teams and others.

  1. Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “Learning to Organize: Notes, Questions, and Helpful Hint #1” (2019). (T)

  1. M.S. Kierkegaard, “When the Knower Has to Apply Knowledge” from “Thoughts on Crucial Situations in Human Life”, in Parables of Kierkegaard, T.C. Oden, Editor. (1989) (P)

  1. Thich Nhat Hanh, Thundering Silence: Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake, "The Raft is Not the Shore," (1993), (pp.30-33). (P)

  1. Carol Dweck, Chapter 1, “The Mindsets” from Mindset: the New Psychology of Success (2006), (pp.1-10) (P)

  1.  Ellen Langer, “Mindful Learning”, Current Directions in Psychological Science, Vol. 9, Number 6, (December 2000), pp.220-223.

  1. Sim Sitkin, "Learning Through Failure: The Strategy of Small Losses", Research in Organizational Behavior, Vol.14, (1992), (pp.231-246).  (T)

  1. Coaching as Leadership Practice, adapted from work of Ruth Wageman, Marshall Ganz (2014)

  1. Tips on Forming a Team


  1. “Coaching” Organizing Participant Guide, 2016.


  1. Ellen Langer, Mindfulness, (2014), Chapter 3, "The Roots of Mindlessness," (pp.19-35); Chapter 4, "The Costs of Mindlessness," (pp.43-55); Chapter 5, "The Nature of Mindfulness," (pp.61-77); Chapter 7, "Creative Uncertainty," (pp.115-129). (P)


Today students form the leadership teams with whom they will be working to organize their campaigns. Each leadership team will have 3 to 5 members, a significant measure of diversity, and share a commitment to work together creating change they hope to see in the world. This will be done in four rounds.

In round one students will gather at the sign that most closely captures their concern for 15 minutes and get to know each other by sharing why they were called to this concern.

In round two students will gather at another sign that most closely captures another concern for another 15 minutes of conversation.

In round three students will have 15 minutes to seek out other students with whom they might like to form a leadership team.

In round four students will form teams of 3 to 5 with whom they can commit to work on behalf of the change they want to see in the world.

LEADERSHIP PRACTICES: Public Narrative, Relationship Building, Structuring, Action and Strategy.

WEEK 3 | TELLING YOUR PUBLIC STORY | Tuesday, February 12 | 80 pp.

Leadership requires enabling one’s people to respond to challenges to their shared values with purposeful action as opposed to reaction.  Public narrative can be a way to access the emotional resources required: mobilizing hope over fear, empathy over alienation, and self-worth over self-doubt. You may communicate an urgent challenge as a “story of now”, shared values as a “story of us” and why you care enough to accept the responsibility of leadership as a “story of self.” It is not public speaking, messaging or image making. As Jayanti Ravi, MPA/MC 07 said, it can enable you to bring out their “glow” from inside as opposed to applying a “gloss” from outside. In my “What Is Public Narrative” and “Why Stories Matter” I explain our approach. Bruner grounds our work in cultural psychology. Marcus explains the neuroscience of anxiety, why we pay attention, on the one hand, and that of response, on the other. Nussbaum helps us understand how we experience value through the language of emotion, essential for making choices. Bruner explains how we use narrative to construct our “selves”. We will view the James Croft video in class as an example of a complete Public Narrative. We will view Amal Beydoun as an example of Story of Self. Other video examples are available for viewing below.  

  1. Marshall Ganz, Organizing Notes: “What Is Public Narrative?” Charts, Questions. (2019). (P)

  1. Jerome Bruner, “Two Modes of Thought”, Chapter 2 in Actual Minds, Possible Worlds (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1986), p.11–25. (T)

  1. Martha Nussbaum, “Emotions and Judgments of Value”, Chapter 1 in Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2001), (pp. 19-33). (T)

  1. Marshall Ganz, “Why Stories Matter: The Art and Craft of Social Change,” reprinted with permission from Sojourners, (March 2009), pp. 18-19.

  1. Jerome Bruner, Making Stories, Chapter 3, “The Narrative Creation of Self”, (2002), (pp.63-87). (T)

  1. Student Public Narrative: James Croft, Fall, 2010.

  1. Workshop Participant Public Narrative: Amal Beydoun, 2015.

  1. Coaching Public Narrative: 


  1. Public Narrative Participant Guide (2017)
  2. Resistance School, Public Narrative Resources, Fall 2017


  1. Public Narrative: Maung Nyeu, Fall 2011.
  2. Public Narrative; Jacquinette Brown, GSE, 2014.
  3. Public Narrative: Jordan Ward, HKS, 2014.
  4. Public Narrative: Daniela Jozic, Fall 2017.
  5. Coaching Story of Self, Madonna Ramp. Ed.L.D. Workshop, August 2014.
  6. George Marcus, The Sentimental Citizen: Emotion in Democratic Politics, (University Park: Penn State University Press, 2002), Chapter 4, “Becoming Reacquainted with Emotion” (pp.49-78) (T)

Section Discussion | PUBLIC NARRATIVE | Thursday, February 14

At this first “launch” meeting of section this week, you will get acquainted, establish norms, and define shared purpose. You will share your 2 minute story of self with your teammates and begin learning how to coach each other on your story.

Two Minute Public Narrative; Reflection Paper #1 (required) – due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight


Saturday, February 16, 8:00am to 5:30pm, Taubman 520, NYE A, B, C

Students are REQUIRED to participate in this organizing workshop to build relationships, launch their teams, develop their strategy, and get into action. Based on their workshop experience, each team will submit a first draft of their campaign plan by Tuesday, February 19 at 12pm.


Organizers build relationships among members of a constituency to create commitment to a common purpose. Through relationships we can come to understand common interests and develop the resources to act on them. Gladwell reports on the power of relational networks in everyday life – with people “like us” and people “not like us.” Simmons, Rondeau, and McKenna and Han describe relationship-building in action. The workshop materials show a way to teach relationship building in practice. The two video clips describe the role of “house meetings” in the 2007-8 Obama campaign. In optional readings, Blau explains relationships as exchanges while Goffman sees them as performances. Putnam shows relationships can become a resource as “social capital”; Granovetter explains the science of relational differences with people “like us” and people “not like us”; Rooney describes the kind of relational organizing at the foundation of most community organizing efforts like that of GBIO in Boston area. The second Gladwell piece and Brandzell’s response explore the difference in “online” and “offline” relationships.

  1. Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “Relationships”, Charts, and Questions. (2019). (P)

  1. Malcolm Gladwell, “Six Degrees of Lois Weisberg,” in The New Yorker, (January 11, 1999), (pp. 52-63).  (T)

  1. Kris Rondeau and Gladys McKenzie, “A Woman’s Way of Organizing,” Labor Research Review #18, (1991), (pp. 45-59). (H/P)

  1. Ian Simmons, “On One-to-Ones,” in The Next Steps of Organizing: Putting Theory into Action, Sociology 91r Seminar, (1998), (pp. 12-15) (1998). (P)

  1. Elizabeth McKenna and Hahrie Han, Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America, Chapter 4, “Building in Depth by Investing in Relationships,” (2015), pp. 89-129.

  1. Reflections on how “one on one” meeting can turn into “house meetings” and what they are from the 2007 Obama primary campaign in South Carolina, organizer Jeremy Bird and local leader Grace Cusack.

South Carolina House Meeting                                   

Reflections on a House Meeting

  1. Malcolm Gladwell, “Small Change: why the revolution will not be tweeted”, in The New Yorker, October 4, 2010. (T/P)

  1. Ben Brandzell, “What Malcolm Gladwell Missed About Online Organizing and Creating Big Change”, in The Nation, November 15, 2010. (T/P)


  1. Peter M. Blau, Exchange and Power in Social Life “Introduction.” (1964), (pp. 1-11). (T)

  1. Erving Goffman, “On face-work: an analysis of ritual elements in social interaction,” in Interpersonal Dynamics, edited by Bennis, et al. (1955), (pp. 213-225, 229-231). (T)

  1. Robert Putnam, Making Democracy Work, “Social Capital and Institutional Success,” Chapter 6, (1993), (p. 163-185) (T)

  1. Mark Granovetter, “The Strength of Weak Ties,” American Sociological Review, 78:6 (2001), (pp. 1360-79). (T)

  1. Jim Rooney, Organizing the South Bronx, Chapter 6, “Relational Organizing: Launching South Bronx Churches”, (1995), (pp. 105-118). (H)

  1. “People-Powered: In New Hampshire, Howard Dean's Campaign Has Energized Voters”, Hanna Rosin, Washington Post, Tuesday, December 9, 2003, p. C01. (T/P)


  1. “Relationship Building”, Organizing Participant Guide, 2016.  

        Section Discussion | RELATIONSHIPS | Thursday, February 21

Relationships: Reflection #2 due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight

        Student Presentations


What is structure? If we are to work together with others, we need a set of agreements on how we will do that: how we make decisions, how we hold ourselves accountable, and how we can honor our commitments. And if leadership is a practice, how can we structure leadership development to enable a constituency to achieve its goals? Today we focus not only on how to enable your own leadership team to work but also how you can begin to “snowflake” outward as each team member begins to build their own team with whom to launch their campaign. Exodus selection reveals that a key challenge in structuring leadership - how to avoid “being a dot” - has been around for a while. We then build on Burns’ view of leadership as relational, Heifetz’s emphasis on adaptive work, and King’s appreciation of the ego challenges involved. Freeman challenges assumptions about structure that can get in our way. Ransby shares wisdom about “leaderless movements” of one of the great teachers of organizing in the Civil Rights Movement, Ella Baker. Miroff distinguishes between leadership and entrepreneurship. And Alinsky argues leadership must be drawn from among the constituency itself. Finally, Hackman and Wageman argue teams can be a more effective way to structure leadership than relying on a single individual and show how to coach them. In the optional readings, Ancona points out that leadership teams need to be “outward” looking as well as “inward” looking; the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Video shows how team leadership can work for an orchestra with no conductor; Morland reminds us of the key elements in forming a strong team.

  1. Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “Structuring Leadership Teams:  Notes, Charts, Questions, and Helpful Hint #2” (2019).

  1. The Bible, Exodus, Chapter 18  (H)

  1. James McGregor Burns, Leadership, Chapter 1, "The Power of Leadership," (p.9-28), Chapter 2, “The Structure of Moral Leadership” (1978), (pp.29-46). (T)

  1. Ronald Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers, "Values in Leadership," Chapter 1, (1994), (pp. 13-27). (T/P)        

  1. Dr. M.L. King, Jr. A Testament of Hope, "The Drum Major Instinct," (1986), (p.259-267). (H)

  1. Jo Freeman, "The Tyranny of Structurelessness," Berkeley Journal of Sociology, (1970), (pp.1-8). (P)

  1. Bruce Miroff, “Entrepreneurship and Leadership”, Studies in American Political Development, 17 (Fall 2003), 204 – 211.

  1. Saul Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, Chapter 5, "Native Leadership," (1989), (pp.64-75). (T/P)

  1.  Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman, “A Theory of Team Coaching”, Academy of Management Review, Vol. 30, No 2 (Apr. 2005), pp. 269 – 287.

  1. Liz McKenna and Hahrie Han, Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America, Chapter 5, “Creating a Structure to Share Responsibility” (2015), (p.130 – 152).


  1. Ancona, Deborah, Henrik Bresman & Katrin Kaeufer, “The Comparative Advantage of X-Teams,” MIT Sloan Management Review, Vol.43 No.3, (Spring 2002) (pp. 33- 39). (T/P)

  1. Barbara Ransby, “Ella Taught Me: Shattering the Myth of the Leaderless Movement,” Colorlines, June 12, 2015.

  1. Ruth Wageman, et al, Senior Leadership Teams. Chapter 9, “What It Takes to Make Them Great”, (2008), (207-218). (T/P)

  1. No one on the Podium, Lessons on Leadership from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, (

  1. Richard L. Moreland, "The Formation of Small Groups", in Group Processes, edited by Kendrick, C. (1987), (pp. 80-105).  (T/P)

  1. Zack Exley, “The New Organizers, What’s really behind the Obama Ground Game,” Huffington Post, October 8, 2008.  (P)


  1. Marshall Ganz, How to Structure and Build Capacity for Action, Resistance School, Spring 2017 

  1. “Building Leadership Teams” Organizing Participant Guide, 2016.

        Section Discussion | STRUCTURE | Thursday, February 28

Leadership: Reflection #3 due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight 

        Student Presentations

WEEK 6| MOBILIZING RESOURCES: ACTION | Tuesday, March 5 | 98 pp.

Organizers mobilize and deploy resources to take action based on commitments they secure from others. As Oliver and Marwell argue, the way we mobilize resources influences how we can deploy them and vice-versa. But whatever the constraints, acting requires mobilizing others to commit time, money, energy, and, often, courage. Action also usually takes the form of tactics we deploy to achieve strategic goals, a topic which Bobo explores, and the 2007 Obama rally illustrates. Action can also take far more subtle forms – especially in the case of “power with” campaigns, as the Chavez house meeting illustrates. The “Marriage Plot” points to the relational component of effective mobilization. Action also often involves media tactics, a topic Karpf explores, along with challenges of new forms of digital mobilization. Bobo offers ideas on how to combine mobilizing people and money. Finally, Hackman argues that the way we organize the action can itself enhance our capacity for further action — or the opposite. In further readings, McKenna and Han discuss the role of metrics in action, critical not only for accountability, but also for motivation and for learning.

  1. Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “Notes on Action”, Charts and Questions, (2019). (P)

  1. Pamela Oliver and Gerald Marwell, “Mobilizing Technologies for Collective Action,” Chapter 11, (1992), (pp 251-271), in Frontiers in Social Movement Theory, edited by Morris and Mueller. (T)

  1. Kim Bobo, Chapter 7, “Designing Actions,” Organizing for Social Change, (1991), (pp.48-53),

  1. Jacques Levy, Cesar Chavez, Prologue, (2007), (pp. xxi-xxv). (H)

  1. Columbia, SC Rally, “Barack Obama and Oprah Winfrey Rally” Video, (2007).

  1. Canvassing Video, “The Marriage Plot: Inside This Year’s Epic Campaign for Gay Equality,The Atlantic, December 11, 2012.

  1. David Karpf, Chapter 1, “Will the Revolution be A/B-Tested?”, Analytic Activism: Digital Listening and the New Political Strategy (2016), (pp. 1-26).

  1. Kim Bobo, Chapter 19, “Grassroots Fundraising,” Organizing for Social Change, (1991), (pp. 241-251). (P)

  1. Becky Bond and Zack Exley, “Rule 7: The Revolution Will Be Funded - by Small Donations”, Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, (2016), pp 64 – 71.

  1. Richard Hackman, “Designing Work for Individuals and for Groups”, adapted from J.R. Hackman, Work Design in J.R. Hackman & J.L. Suttle (Eds.) Improving Life at work: Behavioral science approaches to organizational change. Santa Monica: Goodyear Publishing Company, (1977). (pp. 242-255). (P) Please take special note of pages 242-244, and 248-250 and the Job Characteristics Model and how to use it.


  1. Liz McKenna and Hahrie Han, Groundbreakers: How Obama’s 2.2 Million Volunteers Transformed Campaigning in America, Chapter 6, “Using Metrics to Get to Scale,(2015), p.153 – 182.


  1. Task Design, Leadership Development Project, Sierra Club, (2007)
  2. “Mobilizing Shared Commitment: Action” Organizing Participant Guide, 2016.

Section Discussion | ACTION | Thursday, March 7

        Action: Reflection #4 – due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight 

       Student Presentations


As we discussed at the beginning of the semester, strategizing is how we turn what we have (resources) into what we need (power) to get what we want (change). It is a verb, something we do, not a noun, something we have. Strategizing is an ongoing process of adapting our campaign to what we are learning from obstacles and opportunities we encounter along the way. This half way point in the semester is a good time to reassess, evaluate, and re-strategize, especially in terms of tactics. We reflect on a “classic” tale of strategy recounted in the Book of Samuel: the story of David and Goliath, a tale showing how resourcefulness can compensate for lack of resources. Mintzberg’s view that strategy is a “verb” is drawn from business while Kahn’s view comes from organizing. Alinsky and Bobo offer some “how to’s” for organizing strategy and tactics. “Resources and Resourcefulness,” shows how the resource poor UFW bested its resource rich opponents. Alinsky, Bobo and Sharp offer “how to’s” for organizing strategy and tactics. The Harvard Living Wage Case offers an example of strategy in action at Harvard.

  1. Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “Notes on Strategy”, Charts, Questions. (2019). (P)

  1.  The Bible, Book of Samuel, Chapter 17, Verses 4-49. (H)

  1. Henry Mintzberg, “Crafting Strategy,” Harvard Business Review, (July 1987), (pp. 66-74). (T)

  1. Si Kahn, Organizing, Chapter 8 “Strategy,” (1982), (pp.155-174). (P)

  1. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, Tactics, (1989), (pp. 126-136, 148-155, 158-161). (P)

  1. Kim Bobo, Organizing for Social Change, Chapter 4 “Developing a Strategy” (pp.20-32), Chapter 5, “A Guide to Tactics,” (1991), (pp.34-41). (P)

  1. Marshall Ganz. “Resources and Resourcefulness: Strategic Capacity in the Unionization of California Agriculture, 1959-1966”, American Journal of Sociology, (January 2000), (pp.1003-1005; 1019-1044). (T/H)

  1. Gene Sharp. “198 Methods of nonviolent Protest and Persuasion”, The Politics of Nonviolent Action, (Boston: Porter Sargent Publishers, 1973).

  1. The Living Wage Debate Comes to Harvard (A) (10 pages) and (B) (18 pages); Kennedy School of Government, (2002). (H)

  1. Strategizing Handout, Jonah Evans, (2012).


  1. The New Tactics in Human Rights Organization makes a very useful website of both online and offline tactical ideas available at

  1. Olena Nikolayenko, “Origins of the Movement’s Strategy: The Case of Serbia’s Otpor (pp. 1 -19), International Political Science Review, (October 31, 2012) (T/H)


  1. “Creating Shared Strategy II” Organizing Participant Guide, pp. 13-20, 2016.

Section Discussion | STRATEGY | Thursday, March 14

Strategy: Submit Midterm in lieu of this week’s reflection paper

        Student Presentations

MID-TERM (Required) (4 pages, double-spaced, 12-point, 1-inch margins) DUE FRIDAY MARCH 15 at 5:00 PM by email to your TF.

SPRING BREAK: March 18–22


Successful campaigns can create new organizational capacity. Creating organizations that respond, change, and adapt requires managing dilemmas of unity and diversity, inclusion and exclusion, responsibility and participation, and parts and wholes. Smith and Berg show why these dilemmas must be managed but cannot be “resolved.”  Janis points to the danger that "too much" unity can suppress needed dissent. Kahn focuses on the nuts and bolts of organization. In further readings, McCollom offers a very clear way to look at the elements that need to be integrated in a viable organization. Warren focuses on the challenge of building organizations across racial, religious, and economic lines. And Ransby recalls the wisdom with respect to the role of leadership movements of one of the great teachers of organizing in the Civil Rights Movement, Ella Baker.

  1. Marshall Ganz. Organizing Notes: “Organizations” Notes, Charts, and Questions” (2019). (P)

  1. Irving Janis, "Groupthink", in Psychology Today, (November 1971), (pp. 43-44, 46, 74-76). (T)

  1. Si Kahn, Organizing, Chapter 3, "Organizations,"(1982), (pp. 55-77). (P)

  1. Kenwyn Smith and David Berg, "A Paradoxical Conception of Group Dynamics", Human Relations, Vol. 40:10, (1987), (pp. 633-654). (T)


  1. Marion McCollom, Groups in Context: A New Perspective on Group Dynamics, edited by Marion McCollum and Jonathon Gillette. Chapter 2, “Group Formation: Boundaries, Leadership and Culture” in, Lanham MD: University Press of America, (1995), (pp.34-48). (T)

  1. Mark Warren, Dry Bones Rattling, from “Four, Bridging Communities Across Racial Lines” (98-100; 114-123) and “Five, Deepening Multiracial Collaboration,” (2001), (pp. 124-132; 152-155).  (H)

Section Discussion | ORGANIZATIONS | Thursday, March 28

Organization: Reflection Paper #5 due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight

        Student Presentations

Midpoint Check-in: Your midterm will be returned to you in this week’s section with comments. The Teaching Fellows will schedule short check-ins to help you focus on your goals for the remainder of the semester.

WEEK 9| ORGANIZING PROJECTS/CASES| Tuesday, April 2 | 65 pp.

This week we devote the first of three classes to case discussion, integration of practice, and coaching. In lecture we’ll focus on cases that can offer us insight not only into how the five practices are integrated in an organizing campaign, but what happens afterwards. We’ll also focus on the practice of coaching as key to all the practices we’ve learned in how we develop the leadership of others, what organizing is really all about. In section the cases we’ll focus on will be your own projects, especially coaching each other on them, and the integrative work will be in putting the practices to work in a collaborative team project.

  1. Kennedy School Case C16-91-1034, “Orange Hats of Fairlawn: A Washington DC Neighborhood Battles Drugs,” (1991), (pp.1-18). (H)  

  1. Mary Beth Rogers, Cold Anger, Chapter 11, “Leave Them Alone. They’re Mexicans,” (1990), (pp.105-126). (H)


  1. Ben Adler, "The inside story of how the Keystone fight was won", Grist, November 6, 2015

Section Discussion | CASES | Thursday, April 4

        Cases: Reflection #6 due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight

WEEK 10| ORGANIZING PROJECTS/CASES | Tuesday, April 9 | 61 pp.

This week we continue our work on integration: cases, coaching, and practice.

  1. Mark Warren & Karen Mapp, “A Match on Dry Grass: Organizing for Great Schools in San Jose”, in A Match in Dry Grass: Community Organizing as a Catalyst for School Reform, (2011), pp. 33-65.

  1. Kennedy School Case 2070.1: Six Minutes: Community Organizing in Amman, Jordan, (2016)

  1. Six Minutes: Community Organizing in Amman, Jordan, Video (2017)


  1. Robert Middlekauff, The Glorious Cause, Chapter 11, "Resolution," (1982), (pp.221-239). (H)

  1. Jane McAlevey, “Chapter 6, Make the Road New York”, No Short Cuts: Organizing for Power in the New Gilded Age, (2016), pp.179 – 198.

Section Discussion | CASES | Thursday, April 11

        Cases: Reflection #7 due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight

WEEK 11| ORGANIZING PROJECTS | Tuesday, April 16 | 101 pp.

This is our final week on integration: cases, coaching and practice.  

  1. Jacques Levy, Cesar Chavez: Autobiography of La Causa; “Boycott Grapes” (pp.263-271), “The Miracle of the Fast”, (pp. 272-293); Book IV, Book V, "Victory in the Vineyards," Chapters 6-14, (2007), (pp.294-325). (H)

  1. Jane McAlvey, Chapter 4 “Round One” in Raising Expectations (and Raising Hell): My Decade Fighting for the Labor Movement, Verso, 2012, p. 110-141. (H)

  1. Becky Bond and Zack Exley, “Rule 8: Barnstorm”, Rules for Revolutionaries: How Big Organizing Can Change Everything, (2016), pp, 72-82.

  1. Kennedy School Case (Draft): Building a Community Organizing Organization, Serbia on the Move, Belgrade, Serbia (2017)


  1. Louis Fischer, The Life of Mahatma Gandhi, Chapter 31, "Drama at the Seashore" (1950), (pp. 263 -275). (H)

Section Discussion | CASES | Thursday, April 18

        Cases: Reflection #8 due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight

WEEK 12 | BECOMING A GOOD ORGANIZER | Tuesday, April 23 | 141 pp.

This week we reflect on organizing as a craft, art, and vocation: why do it, what can make a person good at it, what about the rest of our lives, how can we continue to grow? Heifetz poses challenges of accepting responsibility for leadership. Langer reflects on how to work "mindfully” with others. Chavez, Alinsky, Payne and Addams describe how they came to terms with these challenges.

  1. Ronald Heifetz, Leadership Without Easy Answers, Chapter 11, "The Personal Challenge," (1994), (pp.250-276). (P)

  1. Ellen Langer, Mindfulness, Chapter 8, "Mindfulness on the Job," (2014), (pp.133-148). (P)

  1. Cesar Chavez, "The Organizer's Tale," Ramparts Magazine, (July 1966), (pp.43-50). (P)

  1. Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, "The Education of the Organizer," (1989), (pp.63-80). (P)

  1. Charles M. Payne, I’ve Got the Light of Freedom, “Chapter 8: Slow and Respectful Work” (1995), (pp.236-264), (H)

  1. Jane Addams, Twenty Years at Hull House, Chapters 4-5, (1912), (pp.60-89). (P)  

  1. Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom: The Autobiography of Nelson Mandela, Chapter 14 (1995), (pp. 121-140).  (H)


  1. Mondros and Wilson, Organizing for Power and Empowerment, Chapter 2, "The Organizers," (1994), (pp.11-35). (P)

        Section Discussion | BECOMING A GOOD ORGANIZER | Thursday, April 25

Good Organizer: Reflection Paper #9 (Required) – due Wednesday at 12:00-midnight

Student Presentations


WEEK 13 | WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE? | Tuesday, April 30 | 138 pp.

So what does organizing contribute to public life? We begin with Alinsky's call for broader participation in democratic governance -- as timely now as when it was written. Rothstein and Greenhouse point to structural challenges to be confronted if real change is to happen. Reed shows how organizing worked in the conservative movement. Skocpol and Weir and I argue a need for greater participation. Judis describes a world of advocacy without participants. Hobbs argues the insufficiency of market based approaches to social change. And Brown argues that market based approaches can undermine democratic politics itself.

  1. Alinsky, Reveille for Radicals, Chapter 11, (1989), (pp.190-204). (P)

Richard Rothstein, “The Making of Ferguson”, American Prospect, Fall 2014.

  1. Marshall Ganz, Tamara Kay & Jason Spicer, “Social Enterprise OR Social Change”, upcoming March 2018. 

  1. D.D. Guttenplan, “The Labor Movement Must Learn These Lessons from the Election: An interview with Jane McAlevey,” The Nation, February 7, 2017.

  1. Understanding Impact – GA Serbia Notes, written by Vladica Jovanovic based on a talk by Marshall Ganz at the Global Affiliates Gathering in Serbia March 2015.

  1. Ralph Reed, Politically Incorrect, Chapter 13, "Miracle at the Grassroots," (pp.189-202); Chapter 17, "What is Right about America: How You Can Make a Difference," (1994), (pp.249-267). (H).

  1. Margaret Weir and Marshall Ganz, "Reconnecting People and Politics," in The New Majority: Toward a Popular Progressive Politics, (1997), (pp.149-171). (H)  

  1. Eias Isquith, “Neoliberalism Poisons Everything: How Free Market Mania Threatens Education and Democracy: Wendy Brown’s Undoing the Demos”, Salon, June 15, 2015. 


  1. Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy: From Membership to Management in American Civic Life, Chapter 7, “Reinventing American Civic Democracy” (2003), (pp.254-293). (H)

  1. Michael Hobbs, “The Myth of the Ethical Shopper”, Huffington Post, July 15, 2015.

  1. John B. Judis, "The Pressure Elite: Inside the Narrow World of Advocacy Group Politics," The American Prospect, #9, (Spring 1992), (pp.15-29). (H)


WEEK 13 | CONCLUSION | Thursday, May 2

Today we hear from everyone about what they have learned from their participation in the course. What have we learned about ourselves as observers, organizers? What have we learned about organizing, how well did we meet goals we set at the beginning of the semester? What's next?

FINAL PAPER DUE FRIDAY MAY 10TH AT 5:00PM (Boston time) by e-mail to your TF.

MLD 377 S2019        page