One of the ideas to come out of a year-long process within the Latin America Solidarity Coalition on how to better confront US militarism, was the idea that we need more activists with organizing skills and more organizers who have a better understanding of the causes and effects of militarism. The Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ) took up the challenge and on September 23, 2011 will inaugurate the first session of its Online Activist School.
Offering a mix of skills and information courses the AfGJ online school is designed to turn activists into organizers and to give long-time organizers the knowledge to organize better. The school is especially designed for those who can’t afford the time or money to attend one of the several excellent progressive training schools in the country. Students will be able to work from their own home and computer at their own pace. Courses will be taught using the Moodle platform which is popular for university online studies. At least one session of each class will include “live” interaction with the instructor and other students by video or audio. A certificate will be awarded for course completion.
The first round of six courses will be taught by experts in their fields including a grassroots journalism course by Dawn Paley, the well-known contributor to Upside Down World, The Nation and other progressive publications and Gita Gutierrez, an attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights on how to use Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in our organizing. The final skills course in the first session will teach “Organizing for Alternatives to Military Recruitment in the Schools” by physician Marshall Blesofsky who has spent years in Long Beach, CA organizing to keep military recruiters out of the schools.
The three information courses are equally interesting. They include anti-mercenary expert Dan Kenney’s course on the “Privatization of War,” former AfGJ Campaign for Labor Rights Coordinator Jon Hunt’s “Marriage of Neoliberalism and Militarism,” and Beth Adams’ “Environmental Effects of Militarization.”
Three more five week sessions will be offered with different courses over the coming year. Requests for applications to teach courses are welcome to info@AFGJ.org. Prospective students can learn more about the courses and instructors at http://AFGJ.org. Tuition is set at $250 per course in order to keep the cost as low as possible while still paying instructors a fair wage. Tips on raising the tuition within your own community are available on the web page.
Chuck Kaufman is the National Coordinator of the Alliance for Global Justice.