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Civil Society Workshop, April 23: “The People’s Constitution: How Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations Have Shaped the U.S. Constitution” with John Kowal

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, April 23 at 12:30 pm in the PoliSci thesis room (5200.07) for a discussion with

John Kowal 

Brennan Center for Justice, Vice president for programs

The People’s Constitution: How Social Movements and Civil Society Organizations Have Shaped the U.S. Constitution

If you ask who wrote the U.S. Constitution, most people think of the 55 men who gathered in Philadelphia in the summer of 1787. But much of the Constitution was written afterwards, in a series of 27 amendments. My forthcoming book is the history of how subsequent generations have reshaped our founding document in four distinct waves of change, punctuated by long periods of dormancy (as we are in now). Among its key themes, the book will look at the role of social movements and civil society organizations in effecting constitutional change. Broad-based social movements played a crucial role in many amendment fights: from the nascent organizing of Anti-Federalists who demanded changes to the new Constitution; to the powerful nineteenth century movements promoting temperance, abolition of slavery, and woman suffrage; to the modernizing crusades of the Populists and Progressives; to the civil rights revolution of the 1960s. By the turn of the twentieth century, these campaigns were increasingly shaped by professionalized pressure groups (a term coined by the man most responsible for the Prohibition Amendment). These increasingly sophisticated civil society organizations, not necessarily representing movements, pioneered strategies of research, organizing, communications, lobbying, and political pressure to transform the politics of constitutional amendments. While a history, the book will draw lessons for activists thinking ahead to the next wave of constitutional change.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

The complete Spring 2020 schedule is available here

Civil Society Workshop, February 6: “Dollars and Dissent: Institutional Donor Support for Grassroots Organizing and Social Movement Building” with Ben Naimark-Rowse

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, February 6 at 12:30 pm in the PoliSci thesis room (5200.07) for a discussion with

Benjamin R. Naimark-Rowse

Topol Fellow in Nonviolent Resistance,
The Fletcher School, Tufts University

Dollars and Dissent: Institutional Donor Support for Grassroots Organizing and Social Movement Building

Hossam el-Hamalawy, Love and Revolution
Hossam el-Hamalawy, Love and Revolution الثورة والحب. Revolutionary Graffiti at Saleh Selim Street, the island of Zamalek, Cairo. Taken on October 23, 2011. https://flic.kr/p/ays7dw (CC BY-SA 2.0)

From 2011-2015, institutional donors gave only 3% of their human rights funding to support social change strategies that included grassroots organizing. Ten times as much human rights funding went to support strategies that involved advocacy, systems reform and implementation. Five times as much funding went to support strategies that involved capacity building and technical assistance. And three times as much funding went to support strategies that involved research and documentation. Why did such a small percentage of human rights funding go to support strategies that involve grassroots organizing? Why and how did some donors support grassroots organizing and nonviolent social movement building? Relying on newly collected survey data, in-depth interviews and a comparative case study, this research opens the black box of donor decision-making that leads donors to decide to support grassroots organizing and nonviolent social movement building, or not. It also offers donors actionable principles and practices for supporting nonviolent social movements and grassroots organizing.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

The complete Spring 2020 schedule is available here

Civil Society Workshop, February 20: “Philanthropic contributions to public research universities in the U.S. and Japan” with Fumitake Fukui

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, February 20 at 12:30 pm in the PoliSci thesis room (5200.07) for a discussion with

Fumitake Fukui, Ph.D.

Visiting scholar at Teachers College Columbia University, Associate professor at Kamakura Women’s University

Philanthropic contributions to public research universities in the U.S. and Japan: How do government subsidies and tax policies affect donative behavior?

This talk explores how government subsidies and tax policies affect donations to public research universities in the U.S. and Japan. After Japanese national universities were incorporated from being governmental organizations to national university corporations in 2004, they started doing fundraising to compensate for the decreasing trends of governmental operation funds. However, there is a huge gap between Japanese and American research universities with regard to donations. To explore what determines the trends of donations to public research universities in both countries, this study focuses on environmental aspects such as macro-economic factors, government subsidies, and charitable tax deduction policies in the U.S. and Japan. Using panel data of donations to public research universities from the late 2000s to the 2010s in both countries, this study shows that environmental factors affect donations to public research universities differently. Moreover, it implies philanthropic contributions in the U.S. are based on the combination of strong capital markets and a charitable deductions policy, which is different from the Japanese higher education model. This study will discuss the isomorphism of U.S. universities’ philanthropic model to the Japanese higher education system by introducing the recent Japanese tax policies and the reform of university administration.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

The complete Spring 2020 schedule is available here

Civil Society Workshop, December 5: “Reduce, Replace, or Reorient: NGO Responses to the End of International Funding” with Merrill Sovner

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, December 5 at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Merrill Sovner

PhD Candidate, Political Science, GC CUNY

“Reduce, Replace, or Reorient: NGO Responses to the End of International Funding”

Civil society is viewed by scholars as performing essential functions for democratization, and it was embraced by governments and international donors seeking to sustain democracy in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) after 1989. Thirty years on, hostile rhetoric from CEE governments and politicians seek to paint civil society organizations as elites that are more responsive to those international donors and like-minded advocacy professionals than to the public at large. Under what conditions do CSOs promote democratic practices or operate as disconnected elites? This research looks at organizations that received international funding from the Trust for Civil Society in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE Trust) in the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, and Hungary. The responses of organizations to the end of CEE Trust funding – reduced activities, replaced large grants, or reoriented their activities to a domestic constituency – illuminate the adaptation and sustainability of organizations to provide democratization functions in the face of growing populism in Central and Eastern Europe.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, November 21: “Civil society, immigration and xenophobia in Johannesburg, South Africa” with David Monda

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, November 21 at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

David Monda

Doctoral student, Political Science, GC CUNY

Civil society, immigration and xenophobia in Johannesburg, South Africa

This paper emerges from the traumatizing experiences of African immigrants experiencing xenophobia in Johannesburg South Africa. Over a period of three months in the Summer of 2019, a field study was conducted in conjunction with two South African civil society organizations. These are Mould Empower Serve (MES) and the Outreach Foundation. The field study came up with three main findings. Firstly, that the problems of xenophobia are experienced differently in different parts of the city of Johannesburg. Secondly, that “protection gaps” (the period between when the African immigrants arrive in South Africa and the time they successfully get their immigration papers), significantly affected immigrants. These “protection gaps” limit the ability of immigrants in starting their own businesses or gaining employment. Lastly, that depending on the country of origin, different immigrants have different experiences. Somali, Ethiopian and Nigerian immigrants are a lot more successful at starting their own businesses and getting employed compared to immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. The paper concludes with areas for civil society intervention that can mitigate the sporadic explosion of xenophobic violence in the City of Johannesburg. It also recommends areas for future research and exploration.

The author would like to thank the CUNY Office of Research for generous fellowship support towards this project.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, November 7: “Surveillance and Collective Efficacy” with Anna Zhelnina

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, November 7 at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Anna Zhelnina

PhD Candidate, Sociology, GC CUNY

“Surveillance and Collective Efficacy”

In this paper, I want to explore the effects of internalization of surveillance on the communities’ capacity to act collectively in the interest of a common good. Building on my fieldwork in Moscow, Russia, I will demonstrate how the fears and expectations of surveillance disrupted neighborhood-level attempts to oppose urban renewal plans (“Renovation” of the city’s housing stock announced in 2017). Muscovites, expecting the authoritarian state to infiltrate grassroots activism, had difficulties establishing relations of trust with their neighbors, which affected their ability to orchestrate collective resistance to the project.

The big role of social media in this resistance campaign complicated the effect of the expected surveillance: in the anonymous and atomized city, social media were necessary for neighbors to find one another and coordinate their actions against urban renewal; however, social media proved to be more prone to disruption by the expected (and real) surveillance and infiltration.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, October 24: “Intersectional explorations into the changing nature of womens civic engagement in rural India” with Varnica Arora

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, October 24 at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Varnica Arora,

doctoral student in the Critical Social Personality Psychology, GC CUNY

“Intersectional explorations into the changing nature of womens civic engagement in rural India”

This talk explores the impacts and questions raised by the insidious movements of government promoted civil society organizations (GO’s) to push out civil society actors from grassroots mobilization in rural India. As of May 2019, Sixty million rural women across the country have been organized into Self Help groups. The extent to which they contribute to issues of gender justice remains contentious. Using an intersectional framework, implications of these changes are discussed drawing on data collected from Self Help Groups either formed by a NGO or GOs in India . The data suggests that there are important differences in the definition and enactment of processes of collective action and political participation within the context of GOs and NGOs. Further, theorizing civic engagement at the intersection of women’s multiple positionalities within the shaskiya (governmental), samajik (social/religious) and saravjanik (communitarian) realms offers a bottom up framework to understand the complexities of the changing relationship between women, civil society, and the State.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, September 26: Civil Society Snapshots from Latvia, China, France with Senior Fellows 2019

Join us on Thursday, September 26, at 12:30 pm, for a discussion with

Senior International Fellows 2019:

Inese Danga, Social Support Program Director — Foundation Ziedot.lv
Delphine Valette, Community Development Manager for Nice-Côte d’Azur Area; and Consultant for entrepreneurs and community leaders
Coordinator, Community Foundations Group — National Centre for French Foundations
Tongting Xiao, Secretary — Chengdu Wuhou Community Development Foundation

Civil Society Snapshots from Latvia, China, France

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, October 10: “Nonprofit Downhill Skiing in Maine: Analysis of a Mixed Industry” with John Casey

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, October 10 at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Prof. John Casey, 

Marxe School of Public and International Affairs

Baruch College, CUNY

“Nonprofit Downhill Skiing in Maine: Analysis of a Mixed Industry”

Abstract. This paper focuses on the shifting landscapes of collaborations in mixed industries, and the decisions made around the provision of services through the public, private or nonprofit sectors. The paper analyses the history of the involvement of the three sectors in the provision of downhill skiing as a mixed industry in Maine, USA, and explores the implications for the future of public service.

To most people, skiing conjures up images of the glitterati schussing down the slopes of high-end resorts. At first sight, it seems to be a quintessentially private service that is offered at a premium by for-profit businesses. Yet, in Maine, of the 19 currently operating downhill ski areas, 11 are owned or operated by 501c3 nonprofits, (3 of the ski areas are owned by the local towns but operated by nonprofit organizations), in effect providing a public service. Throughout the US there are ski areas owned and operated by governments and nonprofits, but NAICS statistics indicate that Maine has the highest proportion. This paper analyzes what this market niche tells us about the collaboration between sectors in mixed industries, and explores the implications for the future of public service.

Room: Political Science Thesis Room, room 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, September 12: Civil Society Snapshots from Ukraine, Italy, Nigeria with Senior Fellows 2019

Join us on Thursday, September 12, at 12:15 pm, in room 5200.07 (Political Science Thesis Room) for a discussion with

Senior International Fellows 2019:

Ese Swona Emerhi, Project Director, Kilsi Trust- Trust Africa
Olga Nikolska, Program Director, Culture of Philanthropy Development- ISAR Ednannia
Patrik Vesan, Board ExecuDve CommiEee Member, Aosta Valley Community FoundaDon and Associate Professor of Political Science at University of Valle d’Aosta

Civil Society Snapshots from Ukraine, Italy, Nigeria

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