Learning Organizing

"It is a calling. It is a vocation—social change work. But there's a craft to it. You know, there are skills, there are practices, there's a discipline, there's a way to do it right, and there's a way to utterly screw it up."

– Marshall Ganz, Kennedy School of Government course lecture, on becoming an organizer

The resources of this website are designed to be viewed in a very specific sequence. Students, organizers and trainers should review the readings for each organizing topic, and then view the videos. The vignettes provide a summary of Ganz’s key lecture points, while the longer lecture videos illustrate how students in Ganz’s Harvard courses discuss these topics.

We must stress that learning in this module is cumulative. Topic 2 builds on Topic 1, and so forth. For example, Ganz’s materials on strategy assume knowledge of leadership, relationships, and other topics covered earlier in the module.

Each topic is described, below.

TOPIC 1: What is organizing: leadership, community, and power


TOPIC 2: The "role" of leadership and leadership development in organizing


TOPIC 3: The "role" of relationship-building in building a foundation for organizing


TOPIC 4: "Why" we organize: values, identity, and narrative in motivating participation


TOPIC 5: "How" we organize: strategizing to transform resources into the power to achieve purpose


TOPIC 6: Action: how organizers change the world


TOPIC 7: Summing up: If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am for myself alone, what am I? If not now, when?

Before proceeding to Topic 1, please  click here to read Ganz's notes on "practicing organizing." Also, we suggest several background readings on learning organizing: