Date of Paper/Work


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Leadership (Ed.D.)

Type of Paper/Work



Michael Klein, Stephen Brookfield, Eleni Roulis


Most, if not all, large-scale changes in social, economic, and civic policy in modern times resulted not from small adjustments within administrative institutions but from social movements built through decades of organizing. For community organizing to fulfill its traditional role in social movements, there must be well-trained organizers. The questions pursued in this research are: how is organizing being taught both in community-based and academic settings, what is being taught including the core concepts, skills, and competencies, and what and how should it be taught in the future? Two different spheres of practice have historically served to unite, educate, and activate people in the exercise of community organizing: community-based institutions; and scholarly-educational disciplines. My research used two theoretical frameworks to explore the process of teaching and learning organizing as well as bridging these two spheres: critical pedagogy; and social movement theory. My research was mixed methods with both quantitative and qualitative elements: a meta-analysis of literature related to community organizing education and knowledge production; a survey of organizers in the Twin Cities metropolitan area; and interviews with formal, non-formal, and informal educators, specifically academics, professional trainers, and veteran organizers. The three basic components I examined in developing a community organizing pedagogy were: (1) the learning objectives of community organizers, as identified by the learners themselves: (2) the curriculum, using experienced community organizers as the source of this knowledge production; and (3) the teaching methodology, drawing on methods from both community organizing practice as well as educational and scholarly practice. My research followed two methodological traditions: phenomenology; and grounded theory. I used phenomenology to understand how the educators’ lived experience influenced them as practitioners and educators, including decisions about curriculum and teaching methods, and to produce a set of educational recommendations. I used grounded theory to understand who is organizing in the Twin Cities and the amount, quality, and impact of their education, and to produce of a model for organizing pedagogy describing the educational settings, sources, and methods. Finally, I identified possible future research, including field observations of current education programs and a pilot program of my proposed pedagogy.


Community organizing, community organization, social movement, community practice, organizer, Twin Cities

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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