Transformative Civic Engagement Through Community Organizing

Foreword by Scott J. Peters
Afterword by Michael Gecan
Paper: 978 1 62036 104 7 / $35.00
Published: October 2017  

Cloth: 978 1 62036 103 0 / $95.00
Published: October 2017  

Lib E-Book: 978 1 62036 105 4 / $95.00  
About Library E-Book

Published: October 2017  

E-Book: 978 1 62036 106 1 / $27.99
Published: October 2017  

Publisher: Stylus Publishing
136 pp., 6" x 9"
Maria Avila presents a personal account of her experience as a teenager working in a factory in Ciudad Juarez to how she got involved in community organizing. She has since applied the its distinctive practices of community organizing to civic engagement in higher education, demonstrating how this can help create a culture that values and rewards civically engaged scholarship and advance higher education’s public, democratic mission.

Adapting what she learned during her years as an organizer with the Industrial Areas Foundation, she describes a practice that aims for full reciprocity between partners and is achieved through the careful nurturing of relationships, a mutual understanding of personal narratives, leadership building, power analysis, and critical reflection. She demonstrates how she implemented the process in various institutions and in various contexts and shares lessons learned.

Community organizing recognizes the need to understand the world as it is in order to create spaces where stakeholders can dialogue and deliberate about strategies for creating the world as we would like it to be. Maria Avila offers a vision and process that can lead to creating institutional change in higher education, in communities surrounding colleges and universities, and in society at large.

This book is a narrative of her personal and professional journey and of how she has gone about co-creating spaces where democracy can be enacted and individual, institutional, and community transformation can occur. In inviting us to experience the process of organizing, and in keeping with its values and spirit, she includes the voices of the participants in the initiatives in which she collaborated – stakeholders ranging from community partners to faculty, students, and administrators in higher education.

Table of Contents:
Foreword by Scott J. Peters

1) Introduction and Overview
2) Four Community Organizing Practices: Creating Culture Change
3) How Community Organizing Evolved at Occidental College
4) The Market, Civically Engaged Scholarship, and Reciprocity
5) Concluding Points and Final Reflections

Afterword by Michael Gecan
About the Author

Chapter 1

Reviews & Endorsements:
"Since 2001, when she became founding director of the Center for Community-Based Learning at Occidental College, Maria Avila has been a pioneer in bringing the relational organizing methods she learned as a grassroots community organizer into cultural and institutional change in higher education. This is tough, difficult and also transformative work at the cutting edge of reviving the public purposes of higher education and education. Transformative Civic Engagement through Community Organizing is a brilliant gift to all who believe in and work for vibrant democratic societies in turbulent times."
- Harry C. Boyte, Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy , Augsburg University
“There is no greater challenge in higher education than the construction of a genuine democracy within the system and in the wider community. Only re-finding its original mission to seek knowledge to build a better society will achieve this. Maria Avila’s book is an exemplary contribution to this mission based on deep study but also, indispensably, her own experience in community organizing. A must read for faculty, students and all who care about education and democracy.”
- Ronaldo Munck, Professor and Head of Civic Engagement , Dublin City University