Purpose: To build a community spirit among the participants by giving them a common bond in understanding why they are taking the class and highlighting their common goals and aspirations.
Course Overview, Corporate Questionnaire, Corporate Questionnaire Answers, The Corporation Movie
Paradigm: Introductions among the people and to the material are important. It is always good to understand where you are going and whom you are with.
Context: “Community” is one of the basic mechanisms for creating strong, citizen-based self-governance. Giving people a chance to fully reveal their personal experiences and identify their common goals in taking this class is an important part of building community. We often point out that we all live in a capitalist sea and as Daniel Tygel of the Brazilian Solidarity Economy points out, we all “get our hands dirty” to survive in our economic system. Since we all have to get “our hands dirty,” it is always important for people to share that part of their lives.
There are many goals for people taking this class including:
• Understanding the historical context and present reality of corporate power;
• Grasping the connection between corporate power and our most dire problems on the planet;
• Identifying groups that are allied with your visions and are working on solutions to corporate power;
• Learning how to strengthen local self-government;
• Creating public policies to enhance the common good;
• Learning talking points to engage in constructive conversation with people who view the world differently;
• Identifying your allies in the local community; and extending your social community.
Activities: Class participation is important; providing a time for people to make announcements is a good way to catalyze that, allowing people to get into a participatory role and drawing everyone into the local context of this course.
Introduce the facilitators. Facilitators should be candid about how they “get their hands dirty” in the current system. Pass out a course overview to all of the class participants and use it to describe the classes. Facilitators should read the entire Study Guide to be familiar with each class.
Highlight the subtopics under each class and cover a surprising aspect of each class, e.g., how Wall Street finances the election process, or how much more money is spent on lobbying than on campaign finance, or how elite control of the Supreme Court has been continuous from the beginning.
Entertain questions about the course any time during the course description and make sure to ask if there are any questions once you are done with the description.
Follow up with a discussion on the mechanics of each class as well as the organization of the classes. Here is a sample of the class structure we have used.
Move from here to the heart of this class, which is getting people to tell their story with passion about who they are and why they are taking this class. Take notes so you can be knowledgeable about each person’s history for future classes. This can easily take an hour.
If there is time, you might show the 2003 movie The Corporation. The Wharton School of Business says The Corporation “is a cogent, information-rich and artfully crafted probe of the most powerful business entity of modern times.” Although a little dated, it covers many of the topics covered in this course
You could also show the movie The Wisdom to Survive from Bullfrog Films. See a trailer here http://olddogdocumentaries.org/shop/the-wisdom-to-survive/. We have a DVD of the movie we could send you.
You can also present a speaker who is connected with a local political or environmental issue relevant to the class. They can widen perspectives on what is happening locally.
Alternatively you can pass out a corporate power quiz that was developed by Move to Amend and designed to elicit discussion. Here are the answers to the quiz.
At the very end of the class, distribute the article rankings, questions and talking points for the first class of Corporations, Democracy, & The Rise of Grassroots Popular Power which is about elections.
The day after the class, email the questions and rankings for the next class to everyone and include a current article on corporate money in politics.
The day before the next class, send a reminder email that the class is coming up and again attach the questions and ranking and maybe another piece on corporate power and our election process.