Summer School Program


Schedule | Program | Readings | Introduction | Registration | Logistics


Themes: Workshops, Plenaries and Events

For a list of speakers—that we’re adding to every day—scroll below the program descriptions or click here for a shortcut!

Anti-Racism, Communities of Color and the Crisis

As the economic crises continues to unfold, communities of color all over the nation are facing the brunt of a renewed right wing offensive.  In this theme we will explore both the background and implications of this. We will mainly focus on three areas: the historical formation of race in the US, the current state of communities of color in light of fresh cuts to public services, massive layoffs and high incarceration rates, and the rise of nativist sentiment—largely focused on immigrant and Muslim communities.

  • Workshop: History of Race and Racism in the US (Wed., 1:30)
  • Workshop: Neoliberalism and Contemporary Politics of Communities of Color (Wed., 4:15)
  • Workshop: Fighting the New Nativism (Thurs., 9:30)

Capitalism: Fundamentals, Present Phase and Resistance

This is a two-part class; see below for workshop descriptions.

  • Workshop: Introduction to Marxist Perspectives on the Economy (Wed., 1:30)Why did Marx consider capitalism “revolutionary”? What’s the source of profit? What’s the basis for capitalism’s repeated crises? Is the current economic crisis in any way different from past crises? How does a Marxist perspective explain alientation? How can Marxist tools deconstruct today’s commodification of everything?
  • Workshop: The Current Crisis: Its Roots, Social Costs and Resistance (Thurs., Noon)This session will focus on the current economic crisis and the “opportunities” that capitalists and the state are using to restore profitability. This will include a discussion of the growth of “flexible” labor and low-wage jobs and the attacks on public sector workers. What working-class stategies are on the horizon? What role can socialists play?

From 20th to 21st Century Socialism

This theme explores the political lessons from 20th century revolutions and radicalizations, considering the prospects for socialist renewal in the US and internationally. Our goal is to familiarize participants with a critical approach to the living history of revolutionary organization and key questions that continue to confront radical activists and organization.  Workshops and a morning plenary will focus on three distinct areas: 1) an introduction to 20th century organizational forms and conceptions of revolutionary practice, 2) approaches to the state in the contemporary anti-capitalist left, and 3) Latin American social movements and left-wing governments.  Discussion will center on, respectively, the experiences/lessons of Leninist, anarchist, and other forms of revolutionary organization; recent autonomist and Marxist debates about the orientation of anti-capitalist activists towards state power following the experiences of the Zapatistas; and the continuing struggles in Bolivia, Venezuela and Central America. We will also be screening and discussing Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein’s film on workers’ self-management in Argentina after the 2001 economic crisis, The Take.

  • Workshop: Revolutionaries in the 20th Century (Wed., 1:30)
  • Workshop: Can We “Change the World Without Taking Power”? Anti-Capitalists and the State (Thurs., Noon)
  • Plenary: 21st Century Socialism and Latin America (Fri., 10:00)
  • Film and Discussion: The Take (Thurs., 3:00)

Public Sector Fightback

This theme will discuss and analyze the roots of the recent assault on public sector workers and public education.  Highlighted will be some key struggles of resistance against these assaults, including the events in Madison, Wisconsin and campaigns in Chicago and Ohio.  Both the positives and negatives of these campaigns will be assessed.  Also there will be a discussion of the lessons learned from these struggles, the role of the radical left within them, and the future of attacks on the public sector.

  • Workshop: Lessons from Madison and the Midwest (Wed., 4:15)
  • Workshop: The Struggle for Public Education (Thurs., 9:30)

Socialist-Feminist Politics and Analysis

This theme will explore the intersections of gender, race, class and sexuality, socialist-feminist strategies for building inclusive movements for economic and social justice, the gendered effects of the economic crisis on workers, families, and communities, reproductive justice, transnational feminism, queer politics.  Among topics discussed will be: how to think about reproductive technologies and the commodification of women’s bodies, possibilities for building community/labor alliances among women, alternatives to the mainstream LGBT campaign for “marriage equality.”

    • Workshop: Socialist-Feminism: Theory and Politics (Wed., 4:15): This workshop is organized to expand on the idea of “intersectionality” (the idea that different kinds of institutionalized relations of power/privilege intersect one another) and how we might apply that idea in understanding women’s/gender oppression today. We also want to explore the challenges movements face in building politics (ideas, strategies, organizations) that are truly intersectional. Two speakers will “kick off” the discussion addressing issues that raise many questions for socialist-feminist theory and practice: a)violence against women/gender violence and b)reproductive technologies/reproductive justice. We hope that participants will bring their own experiences, ideas, and activism into the discussion as we focus on these two issues in order to deepen our understanding of socialist-feminist politics.

      Discussion questions:

      1. What are examples of reproductive technologies being used for liberatory purposes and for oppressive purposes? (some ideas: surgery used to “normalize” sexually indeterminate infants, surgery/technology used to transform bodies to be in line with the person’s gender (sex reassignment surgey), sterilization, sex selective abortion etc.)
      2. How does the lack of body and sex positive ads featuring women of color influence cultural understandings of the role of women in society and of bodily integrity?


    • Workshop: Reformist/Revolutionary Strategies for LGBT Liberation (Thurs., 9:30): This workshop will use participatory scenarios to explore the strategic landscape of contemporary LGBTQGNC (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and gender nonconforming) organizing. Through role playing and small group discussion, we will discuss multiple types of queer and trans movements, asking: What are the limitations of current organizing? Where are there possibilities of revolutionary practice? What constituencies and interests drive various types of LGBTQGNC organizing? How could community and nonprofit based queer and trans organizing connect to and build solidarity with labor movements?

      The facilitators, Michelle O’Brien and Adrian Lowe, will share on their own work in social justice movements in queer and trans communities. For background, we encourage
      participants to read the posted articles, but we will not be discussing them in the workshop.


  • Workshop: Women in the Crisis (Thurs., Noon): For this workshop we will be analyzing what it means to be a woman during times of economic crisis where austerity measures are the rule of the day. We will start with a broad overview of how women have been affected by these circumstances, We will then bring the issues into sharper focus by examining the specific implications as seen in the healthcare industry, and subsequently discuss how the Temple Hospital strike of 2010 is emblematic of the overarching problem.


Adolph Reed is Professor of Political Science at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Class Notes and most recently, editor of Renewing Black Intellectual History: The Ideological and Material Foundations of African American Thought.
Adrian Lowe has been a community organizer in Philadelphia for the last decade, focusing on transgender justice, HIV/AIDS, and alternatives to the criminal legal system. He currently organizes with the Hearts on a Wire collective.
Andrew Sernatinger is a member of Solidarity in Madison.
Betsy Esch is a longtime anti-racist and anti-imperialist activist. She is a Professor at Barnard College-Columbia University where she teaches U.S. history courses on race, labor and empire.
Catherine Sameh is a doctoral candidate in Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.
Charlie Post teaches at Borough of Manhattan Community College and is a member of the AFT/PSC.
Chloe Tribich is a member of Solidarity.
Dave Grosser is a member of Boston Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador.
Debbie Amis Bell was field secretary in the South for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee in 1962-64. Her account is in the recently published Hands on the Freedom Plow, Personal accounts by women in SNCC. She taught in the Philadelphia Public Schools and was active in a variety of roles with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers (building rep and executive board member, chair, PFT Community Outreach Committee & PFT’s Black Caucus). Bell is a longtime member of the Communist Party and has been active in the Labor Party and the Black Radical Congress; she is a founding member of the Philadelphia chapter of the Coalition of Labor Union Women.
Gwen Snyder is executive director of Philadelphia Jobs with Justice.
Jeff Webber teaches at University of London, Queen Mary and is the author of From Rebellion to Reform in Bolivia (Haymarket).
Joanna Misnik is a member of Solidarity.
Johanna Brenner is a Solidarity member in Portland OR where she volunteers with Bus Riders Unite! organizing low-income transit dependent people. She also writes on socialist-feminist theory and politics.
Kate Schiffman is a member of Solidarity and a feminist activist in her hometown of Madison, WI.
Michelle O’Brien is an organizer and writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She works with Queers for Economic Justice and the Radical Social Work Group.
Nelson Carrasquillo is the Executive Director of El Comité de Apoyo a los Trabajadores (CATA- The Farmworkers’ Support Committee), working with migrant farmworkers located in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, the Delmarva Peninsula, and Puerto Rico as they struggle for better living and working conditions, adequate housing, environmental justice, dignity, and respect.
Robert Caldwell is an enrolled member of the Choctaw-Apache Tribe of Ebarb (Louisiana). He is currently researching a dissertation focusing on 18th and early 19th Century Spanish/ Mexican, French Caddo, and Lipan Apache interactions in what is now Texas and western Louisiana.
Sonia Guinansaca is an activist and an undocumented poet from Harlem, NY via Ecuador. Currently, Sonia is attending Hunter College where she is going for a double major in Africana Puerto Rican Latinos Studies, and Women & Gender Studies. Sonia is a board member of the New York State Youth Leadership Council , a youth led organization that works on improving access to higher education and creating equal opportunity for immigrant youth, regardless of immigration status, through leadership development, organizing and advocacy.
Tessa Echeverria is a member of Solidarity in Madison.