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Civic Engagement and Leadership Development Series

February 25, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

The Murphy Institute is pleased to present the Spring 2017 Civic Engagement & Leadership Development series for union members, organizers, activists, and aspiring politicians to deepen their thinking about ways to engage the democratic process and learn new skills related to effective participation in electoral, legislative, and other civic activity. This free 10 week series is a great opportunity to engage with CUNY faculty and other experts in civic engagement, politics, history mass movements, and public policymaking; broaden your network; and earn a certificate of completion.

Saturdays, Feb 25th – May 13th, 2017
Murphy Institute
24 W. 43rd St., 18th Floor, NYC

Register here by Feb. 17th, 2016


Civic Engagement & Leadership Development – Spring Semester 2017

Session 1: Civic Engagement: Concepts and Context
This is session will preview the course sessions as well as familiarize students with basic concepts, expressions, and debates about the role of civic engagement in democratic governance.  Particular attention will be given to considering these concepts in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

SATURDAY, March 4, 2017
Session 2: Pivotal Moments and Movements in U.S. History

This session utilizes pivotal moments and movements to illustrate in ways which citizens have been able to exercise within the framework of the Constitution their right to peacefully seek a redress of grievances in ways that expanded American democracy, both broadened and deepened the Constitution, and decisively influenced public policy.

Session 3: Engaging and Embracing Demographic Diversity
This session examines the “creative tension” between America’s increasing demographic diversity and the capacity of its political system to include “all the people.”  Students will discuss the notion “demographics are destiny in politics” in light of contemporary mechanisms and practices intended to restrict voting rights, manipulate redistricting, and maintain discriminatory systems.  Students will also explore ways in which organizations, coalitions, and mass movements should identify and incorporate the strengths arising from diversity.

Session 4: Organizing and Advocating Issues in Electoral and Non-Electoral Contexts

This examines the interconnection between electoral activity and ongoing movements and organizing efforts.  Students will survey different skills, techniques, strategies and tactics required to advocate and organize around issues between as well as during election cycles.  Students will be challenged to design approaches that unions, community-based organizations or coalitions might employ in electoral versus non-electoral contexts.

Session 5: Post-Election Challenges
What if the candidate your union, organization, or coalition supported wins?  What if this candidate’s party controls the legislative and/or the executive branch?  This session focuses on the post-election challenges leaders and activists face in meeting the challenges of transitioning from campaigning to governing, including responding to favorable or coping with unfavorable results; adjusting to a new political situation; influencing the policy priorities and staff appointments of the elected officials your union, organization or coalition supported.

Session 6: Engaging the Policymaking Process
Civic engagement movements invariably focus on public policy and compelling government to favorably respond to their concerns.  This session provides a basic understanding of the rules, procedures, mechanics, pressure points, and institutional participants in the policymaking process.  Special attention will be given to lobbying tactics and techniques civic movements, issue coalitions, community-based organizations, and labor organizations use to influence policymakers, build policy consensus, and mobilize legislative alliances.  Students will be encouraged to use what they have learned to construct their own model for influencing policymaking.

Session 7: Navigating Progressive Priorities through the Budget Process
Public policies and programs cost money. New demands met require new appropriations. The budget process is the central institutional vehicle government uses to decide “who gets what.” This session examines how organized labor, progressive movements, and issue-based coalitions navigate their priorities through the municipal, state, and federal budget processes. Students will learn basic budget concepts as well as how to monitor the budget process.

Session 8: Building Grassroots Influence within Governmental Institutions

Civic engagement often centers on a group of neighbors, community activists or labor-community coalitions mobilizing independently to compel government to address their concerns.  But one of the key challenges these activists face is whether or how to engage as well as directly participate in policymaking, advisory and other governmental or quasi-governmental institutions.

Session 9: Using Factual Knowledge to Empower Leaders and Activists

The notion that “knowledge is power” applies to movements and leaders.  Effective leaders are also knowledgeable leaders — they are aware of history, know the issues, are familiar with how our system of government works, understand and respect diversity, are well-read, rely on factual information, and constantly update their skill in using social media and information technology.  Community organizations, public institutions, unions, coalitions, and government bodies need thoughtful, well-informed leaders and activists.  This session focuses on utilizing research and accurate information in making strategic projections and in learning from the experience of others.

SATURDAY, MAY 13, 2017
Session 10: Leadership Challenges in 2017 and Beyond

This session focuses on key organizational and strategic challenges leaders and activists face in the political setting that will be largely defined by the first 100 days of the Trump Administration and the onset of the New York City municipal election cycle.  Discussion will focus on ways in which — based on what they have learned — students think civic engagement initiatives can respond to or stimulate mobilization around overlapping local, state, and national dynamics. This session concludes with the awarding of Certificates of Completion to students who completed at least 8 sessions.

For questions or more information, email or call 212-642-2081.


February 25, 2017
10:00 am - 12:00 pm
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The Murphy Institute
25 W. 43rd St.
New York City, NY United States
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