Power, Alinsky, and the University: A Case Study of Syracuse University’s Community Action Training Center (1964-1965)

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President Lyndon Johnson launched his War on Poverty in 1964 by signing into law the Economic Opportunity Act. Among its provisions was the creation of the Community Action program, aimed at enabling "men and women throughout the country [to] prepare long-range plans for the attack on poverty in their own communities." The very first grant was awarded to Syracuse University and the funds were used to create the Community Action Training Center under the direction of Dr. Warren Haggstrom. The program incorporated research, demonstration, and training, and even hired pioneering community organizer Saul Alinsky as a consultant. Soon, several autonomous community organizations were formed and functioning in Syracuse, much to the dismay of City Hall, but by the end of 1965, the CATC was de-funded and being dismantled by the university.


Keywords: Community Organizing, Social Work Education, Saul Alinsky, The University and Social Justice
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Jeffrey A. Miller

Associate Professor, Department of Communication, Utica College
Utica, New York, USA

Jeffrey A. Miller (Ph.D., University at Buffalo) is a Fulbright Scholar (2007, Taiwan) and Associate Professor of Communication at Utica College, where he teaches a variety of courses in Communication, Media Criticism, and Film. Much of his teaching emphasizes the connections between communication practices and democratic life, and following his unsuccessful run for the United States Congress in 2004, he became interested in Community Organizing and the life and work of pioneering community organizer Saul Alinsky. Discovery of Alinsky’s presence in nearby Syracuse, NY, in the 1960s—including two speaking engagements Utica College—was the catalyst for this project which has included extensive archival research at Syracuse University and interviews with several former participants in the university’s Community Action Training Center.

Ref: I11P0234