fbpx Organizing: People, Power, Change | Harvard Kennedy School
Marshall Ganz Photo

Marshall Ganz

Rita E. Hauser Senior Lecturer in Leadership, Organizing, and Civil Society


"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," de Tocqueville observed. Fulfilling the democratic promise of equality, accountability and inclusion requires the participation of an "organized" citizenry that can articulate and assert its shared interests effectively. We can practice democracy by organizing others to confront major public challenges by enabling muted voices to be heard, values to be translated into action, and political will to be mobilized.

Leadership in organizing requires accepting responsibility to enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Organizers ask three questions: who are my people, what is our challenge, and how can we turn resources we have into the power we need to meet that challenge. In this module students learn to work as leadership teams to reach out to constituents to design an organizing campaign. Students learn as reflective practitioners of leadership of their campaign: building relationships committed to common purpose; turning values into motivated action through narrative; strategizing to turn resources into the power to achieve outcomes; taking effective action; and structuring leadership collaboratively.  

NOTE: In Spring 2023, MLD-377 will be offered as a two-week practicum during the Spring 1 Module, with in-person instruction limited to two intensive workshops on the weekends (February 23-25 and March 1-3, 2024). The course will have a maximum enrollment of 63 students, including cross-registered students. Interested students should complete the Student Commitment Form [to be posted Fall 2023]. See Course requirements below for more details about the structure of and participation requirements for this module course.

Course requirements include: 

·       Attendance:  Students will attend two weekend practicum sessions, or workshops, [February 23-25; March 1-3], the core “classroom” component of this class. Workshops will begin on Friday afternoon and continue in full day sessions on Saturday and Sunday. Attendance is required for all sessions.

·        Coaching and Team Meetings: Students meet one-to-one with their small group coach for 10 to 15 minutes in the week before the practicum and in their team for 30 minutes three times over the course of the week in between the two practicum sessions.

·       Readings: Pre-practicum readings are required, and additional readings are recommended for each session.  A case will be assigned for reading between Workshop #1 and Workshop #2.

·       Reflection Paper: Students are required to write a 600 word pre-practicum introductory worksheet.

·       Final Paper: Students are required to write a 600 word final paper reflecting on their practical, conceptual, and individual learning.

Registration for this course has two required steps: 

1. Complete this Student Commitment Form as soon as possible.

2. Follow the regular steps for class registration on my.harvard. 

Also offered by the Graduate School of Education as A-612M.