What do the following twelve organizations have in common: ZCommunications, Real News Network, Rabble, Sto Kokkino, Centre for Civil Society, Center for Anthropology and Social Change, ROAR, Bogazici Performing Arts Ensemble, New Politics, PM Press, Chicago Veterans for Peace, and Real Media?
It isn’t geography. They are in six different countries: the U.S., Canada, Greece, South Africa, the Netherlands, and Turkey.
It isn’t function. Some publish books and magazines. Some do mostly TV. Some are web operations with diverse components. One is an activist organization of war veterans.
Enough. Their commonality is they are all partners in a new project called World Institute for Social Change, or WISC, an online school.
How can twelve organizations, with more to come, partner in one project? They aren’t merging. They aren’t collapsing their agendas into one another.
No, partnering means that any of them, and any other partner that becomes involved, can sponsor a WISC course that anyone can then take.
A partner agrees to sponsor a faculty person to teach a course. Shortly later the course appears in WISC. Course fees pay faculty (50%), sustain the whole system (25%), and aid course sponsors (25%).
So WISC welcomes constituencies to raise consciousness and share results. More, WISC benefits activism most widely including not only those who take or teach the courses, but also the organizations that sponsor and promote them.
Nice idea, don’t you think? However, returning to earth, nice ideas are a dime a dozen. Few travel successfully from dream to reality.
And yet, trumpets blare, WISC is already reality. You can see the WISC welcome page, and the top page of the site, and from there, you can see everything else too. More, the just concluded first eight week session of courses has successfully demonstrated viability and merit.
Okay, you might think, it is one thing for the technology to work well, but who the hell could possibly be teaching in it, and what kind of silly courses might they be offering? Surely, I would have heard, you might think, if there was anything worthwhile being taught.
Well, first note that any of the before-mentioned organizations, or others that will soon become partners, can sponsor courses. In time, fifty courses or even a hundred per session is probable, and one can easily foresee 25 or 50 or even more organizational sponsors. The potential scale and diversity are inspiring but even in only the second overall session, and before serious public assessment and awareness, these are the courses that are available for the second eight week session set to start July 1.
- Analyzing the World
· Cost of War, Price of Peace – Kathy Kelly
· Feminism Then and Now – Harpreet Paul
· Finance Capital in the 21st Century – Jack Rasmus
· Globalization & Human Rights – Harpreet Paul
· The History of U.S. Labor – Paul Street
· Political Economy and Political Ecology – Patrick Bond
· Politics of International Migration – Bridget Anderson
· Profit, Power & Environmental Justice – Harpreet Paul
· Syriza and Social Transformation – Tom Vouloumanos
· Conceptual Toolbox for Activism – Michael Albert
· Investigative Journalism – Bruno Jantti
· Militant Research – Andrej Grubacic
· Tools for Online Anonymity – Justin Podur
- Vision and Strategy
· Anarchism, Then and Now – Andrej Grubacic
· Envisioning a Participatory Society – Michael Albert
· Fighting To End Unending Wars – Rory Fanning
· Organizing for a Free Society – Harpreet Paul
· Participatory Economic Vision – Michael Albert
· Pirates, Maroons, Zapatistas… – Andrej Grubacic
· Strategy for Societal Transformation – Michael Albert
Yes, as you can see, I am teaching in WISC. And so, yes, I am subjective about it. However, WISC benefits all its students, faculty, and partners. It is a mutual aid institution. And I hope other faculty will also write about it, as I am.
Why do people doing projects need to make them known? Most people never contemplate promoting projects they are not themselves involved with. So if there is to be any visible information about new projects, and if those not involved will be hesitant or even loathe to discover and provide that information, then those involved have to pick up the megaphone.
With WISC, this will happen. WISC’s partner organizations will promote it, and hopefully so will its faculty. And the students too.
But don’t fret. You don’t have to blindly accept what is written by anyone involved with WISC because you hope it is accurate. You can look for yourself and decide based on your own assessment. Visit WISC. You decide.
Yes, in my opinion, and this is, after all, an Opinion Essay, WISC is worth your time and even your support and participation. But you take a look. See if you agree.