Organization, representation and Collective Action: Notes on the Sweet Briar College Turnaround

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date


Publication Title

2017 International Democracy Conference, By the People: Participatory Democracy, Civic Engagement and Citizen Education


Part of 2017 International Democracy Conference, By the People: Participatory Democracy Conference Proceeding

Link to Proceeding: https://spa.asu.edu/sites/default/files/2018-03/bythepeople_final_march1.pdf

This paper looks at the announced closure of a small private liberal arts college in Virginia, Sweet Briar College and the ensuing activist movement, “Saving Sweet Briar.” The findings reiterate that Alinsky’s (1971) theory on the power of community organizing is still relevant for today, offering wisdom for other communities seeking to achieve success in spite of the offs. Inclusive participation and stakeholder engagement allows for good decision-making in order to realize common agendas and shared outcomes. The collective impact framework (Kania & Kramer, 2011) shows how activists can move from revolution to institutional change and success.

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