This course is for students who work or want to work in social change organizations that strive to make and keep corporations accountable, including primarily labor unions but also workers’ centers, environmental justice groups, and community-based organizations. It prepares students to engage corporations by teaching them, through hands-on techniques, how to research corporate ownership, finance, organization, and power.
The course is also for students who want to learn about and contribute to the innovations taking place in union organizing and bargaining campaigns that led to major wins for workers from teachers, to digital media workers, to airport cleaners. These victories came about through a combination of grassroots rank-and-file mobilizing, rank-and-file leadership development, and escalating actions in the workplace and broader community. However, fundamental to all these campaigns was careful strategic research.
Because the labor movement faces a shortage of strategic researchers, this course aims to increase the supply of people who understand both how to research corporate structure and power and develop union campaign strategies. To do that, the course provides hands-on research training, teaching students how to investigate corporate ownership, finance, organization, and power. Students learn how to analyze the key relationships, profit centers, growth strategies, and key decision makers that drive a particular corporation and shape its labor relations strategy. They also learn how unions can best respond to and capitalize on these characteristics through comprehensive organizing and bargaining campaigns.
The course uses a combination of teaching methods, including lecture, readings, discussion, small-group exercises, individual research activities, group research projects, and group presentations. Students receive in-depth, hands-on training in the online and library research tools required to conduct strategic corporate research. They work through a series of case studies dealing with diverse firms and industries, and they conduct in-depth research on an actual firm in the context of union organizing or bargaining.
Regular & Advanced Tracks
There are two tracks for the course — regular and advanced. The advanced track includes an additional research and writing assignment. Given the limited time available while students are here on campus, both regular and advanced students will be sent books and a course pack several weeks before the course takes place, in order to give them an opportunity to complete all the reading before they arrive. In addition to reading assignments, there will be short written exercises and class presentations completed while the class is in session. Students taking the advanced track are required to conduct independent research and write a paper of twenty-five to thirty pages, summarizing comprehensive corporate research and analysis for a designated company. The final paper will be due six weeks after the course ends. Any advanced-track students currently enrolled in a college or university who are interested in gaining credit for the course can work with the director to help set up independent study credit with their school.
Students interested in pursuing strategic corporate research positions within unions are encouraged to take the advanced track so they will have the additional experience of researching an actual corporation and have a completed strategic research report to show prospective union employers; but only if they fulfill the requirements for the advanced track and can commit the time to complete the paper.
We welcome international students and have several attend each year. Students from countries who need a visa will need to apply for a business visa rather than a student visa because this is not a credit program. Because of the extra time involved in the visa process, international students should complete their applications and references as soon as possible.