Lessons from Summer Institute 2012, Part 2

[This summer, a handful of CCSU-AAUP members traveled to Chicago’s Roosevelt University to participate in the 2012 AAUP Summer Institute. The Summer Institute featured workshops on topics like negotiations, grievance administration, institutional financial analysis, direct action campaigns, and organizing. We asked this year’s participants to share some of the lessons that they learned. This post includes thoughts from Jason Snyder, Associate Professor of Managerial Communication. He can be reached by email at snyderjal[at] ccsu [dot] edu.]

This year’s AAUP Summer Institute was my third. Although I’ve learned a great deal at all of these meetings, I came away from this year’s Institute feeling empowered. I certainly learned about legislative and administrative attacks on higher education, but this year’s Institute also focused on what we can do in the face of these attacks.

Most of the sessions that I attended were hosted by the Ruckus Society, an organization that provides training and assistance to partner organizations in preparing and executing nonviolent direct action (NVDA) campaigns to combat social injustice. In these sessions, I learned about the big steps necessary to plan a NVDA including goal setting, negotiating, and initiating confrontational tactics.

I also got my hands dirty and learned about some very specific tactics that can be employed in NVDA campaigns. I learned how to deconstruct – through a process of “narrative power analysis” – an opposition or status quo narrative into its basic story elements, including conflict, character and assumptions. The instructors then taught me about building an alternative story. Some of the materials related to story-based strategy can be found on the smartMeme Web site.

I learned how to silk screen shirts, and made the one featured in the picture above. I also learned how to mass produce signs (see below) that look hand made.


Attacks on tenure, cuts in funding, increases in tuition, and assaults on collective bargaining (among other things) make it necessary for faculty to fight back, and NVDA is one way of doing so. Although it is necessary for us to stand up for our own causes, a major takeaway of the Institute was that we need to stand up for others’ causes as well. One opposition narrative pits the “privileged” faculty against other workers. That is a narrative that we have the power to change. We need to fight back when our values are under attack, but we also need to help our students, fellow workers, and neighbors confront the social injustice in their own lives.

Note. Photo at top of post Creative Commons Flickr photo by AAUP

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