ZMI Courses (Sample is from ZMI 2007)
GOOD NEWS, GOOD NEWS: politics in performance
Lydia Sargent & the Z Players
TRANSFORMING AMERICA'S DARK GHETTOS: A Martin Luther King-Malcolm X Community Revitalization Initiative
WHO YOU CALLING BITCH? Women of Color Fight Back
WE OWN THE WORLD
GLOBAL WARMING CAUSES AND SOLUTIONS
WHY ARE WE RADICAL?
Faculty & Student Testimonies
Media Studies Courses
THE HEART OF DARKNESS: MAINSTREAM IMAGES OF AFRICA
This course will focus on how Africa is portrayed by the mainstream press, specifically how African conflicts are presented in the media--i.e., the distortions of the origins of some of the conflicts and how the media never discusses the role of Western countries in African conflicts. The Democratic Republic of Congo will be used as a case study
HIP-HOP ACTIVISM AND THE NEED FOR A MEDIA JUSTICE MOVEMENT
This course will look at how Hip-Hop organizations throughout the U.S. are using all forms of media--visual, audio, film, art--to express the social reality of Black and Latino/Latina urban youth.
HOW JOURNALISTS FAIL
A look at media analysis at the level of reporter bias, inaccuracy, and deceit. This course examines how institutions foster and reward bad journalistic practices and how to identify them in contemporary hard-news reporting. Includes lots of practical exercises and handouts.
INTRODUCTION TO DOCUMENTARY VIDEOGRAPHY
This course offers screenings and discussion to help video makers better conceptualize their video-documentary project. Telling a story with sound and visual images requires forethought, planning, and know-how of cinema-graphic techniques. During the course, we will watch several short political films with the objective of learning how to critically deconstruct and analyze film content, asking what resources the filmmaker used to tell a story and what stories were told, plus explaining linear and non-linear structures and cinema-graphic techniques. We will overview developing story ideas, the pre-production process, and scriptwriting techniques for a grassroots video project on a limited budget. We will also debate the problems of political documentary by discussing ethics, content, aesthetics, financing, production, and distribution. The course will also introduce successful examples of community video collective productions.
Cynthia Peters & Brian Dominick
Join us for a discussion of how the mainstream media functions as an institution. How does it operate chiefly as an advertising delivery system? How do the institutional norms of the mainstream media pressure reporters to self-censor? How could there be such uniformity in reporting across the thousands of daily papers in the United States? Guided by the work of Noam Chomsky, Ed Herman, Charlotte Ryan, and Ben Bagdikian, as well as our own hands-on exploration of the weekend newspapers, we will dvelop a better sense of how the mainstream media undermines democracy while servicing corporate America.
THE MAKING OF SOUTH END PRESS AND Z, PART 1
This class will cover the history of South End Press (SEP) and Z, from their inceptions in 1977 and 1987, including details of what our goals were, why we thought starting radical media projects with democratic workplace values was a valuable way to spend our time after participating in the student, women’s, anti-war, and ecology movements of the late 60s and early 70s.
Like it or not--and most of us do--we live in a world saturated with mass produced, commercialized, often crass, popular culture. From Brittany Spears to Harry Potter to major league baseball to rap to TV’s reality shows, pop culture is part of our everyday lives. How, as activists, can we think about the role of popular culture in our lives and work. Traditionally some progressives have simply rejected many forms of popular culture while others have attempted to produce alternatives to it. Neither approach has been entirely successful. We’ll discuss our individual and political relationships to popular culture and brainstorm ways to respond to it or even incorporate it into out political lives and work.
THE STATE OF ALTERNATIVE MEDIA
Lydia Sargent & Ria Julien
The 1960s inspired the creation of many alternative media and media outlets, adding to those that already existed. In this class we’ll look at the broad range of alternatives to the mainstream media monopoly and how they are faring. We'll also discuss future possibilities and talk about aggressive strategies for increasing left media's impact.
ACTIVIST MEDIA SKILLS
Brian Dominick& Andy Dunn
Practical wisdom and techniques for developing grassroots propaganda campaigns with little or no budget (posters, flyers, handouts, newsletters, etc). Evaluate past campaigns, share ideas for design approaches and distribution tactics. Also, how best to infiltrate your message or promotional campaign into existing media, both mainstream and alternative.
Organizing efforts and media projects require many meetings, yet most people don’t know how to run one effectively. The good news is that there are ways to make meetings real moments of joy and achievement rather than debilitating, depressing, I’m-never-going-to-another-meeting-again, episodes. In this class, we’ll review some of those methods and practice them in mock meetings.
INVESTIGATIVE RESEARCH AND REPORTING, PART 1 & 2
Training in research techniques, investigative reporting, strategic analysis, and journalistic ethics. Part One: The muckraking tradition; getting started; putting a story in context; essential information sources online and in print; staying current; interview skills; finding experts; getting your work to a wide audience. Part Two: Referencing, sourcing, and fact-checking; ethical obligations; avoiding defamation and handling threats; logic and rational methodology; using stylebooks.
THE MAKING OF SEP/Z, PART 2: LESSONS FOR STARTING A MEDIA PROJECT
Using lessons from South End Press and Z, this class will cover all the steps necessary in starting a hopefully long-lasting, self-sustaining media project--like writing a mission statement, staff selection, office set-up, non-profit status, editorial decision-making, equipment purchasing, etc. We’ll also look at the kinds of problems that arise to threaten survival of projects.
MEDIA SELF-DEFENSE: HOW TO WIN AGAINST SPIN
Groups working for progressive social change often face deceptive public relations campaigns bankrolled by corporate interests. In this session, we will review common PR techniques, such as creating fake grassroots (or astroturf) groups, funding biased studies, and flooding traditional and online media with smears against real grassroots groups. Then we will demonstrate free online research tools, by briefly investigating a group or issue of interest to class members. Lastly, we will brainstorm ideas about how participants can include media self-defense in their ongoing work.
The role of money on the left--the realities, and some possibilities.
PRINT PRODUCTION, PART 1 & 2
In Part 1, we will cover all aspects of the print process, including design, production, promotion, and distribution. Part 2 is a workshop where we will apply lessons from Part 1 to begin actually designing a book or magazine or newspaper or newsletter, etc. If you are in the process of creating print media, bring samples of what you are working on.
PRODUCING RADICAL RADIO
This interactive workshop will look at how to use radio to change the world. Designed for activists and organizers alike, we’ll share experiences and overview the skills of writing for radio, research, pre-interviews and interviews, program structure, equipment, recording live, out in the field, or pre-producing programs. We’ll look at the political implications of the editorial process, hosting, and technical production, and how issues of race, gender and class can be produced and reproduced both in our program structure as well as in content. In short, this workshop should enable participants to self-consciously approach the do’s and don’ts of producing a high end radio product as effective alternative media.
In this participatory workshop, we will discuss all aspects of hard-news reporting, from uncovering story ideas, to finding sources to writing from a progressive, public interest perspective. We will also consider ways to grapple with bias, balance, fairness, and other ethical issues.
VIDEO 101: VIDEO SKILLS TRAINING
This course is a basic overview focusing on camera work and sound production for a documentary. Students will leave the course with hands-on knowledge of camera use and video production. The course overviews framing a shot, types of shots, and how to control the frame. Key concepts: wide-angle vs. telephoto lenses; depth and movement; how to use light effectively; and white-balancing a camera. Sound is just as important as the image: logic of sound, types of mics and recording equipment, how to use and monitor a microphone effectively. Using a tripod and other techniques for steady camera shots. Students will be asked to complete a video assignment to apply techniques covered during the course.
Jessica Azulay & Brian Dominick
This session will address practical and technical aspects of establishing a presence on the web for journalism or activism. We will discuss starting up, developing a funding model, and operating a virtual workplace. Also learn the latest technical strategies and resources for harnessing the Web/ Internet to publish content, facilitate communication, promote events and actions, build community or member-ship, raise funds, and raise hell.
WRITING, EDITING, AND GETTING PUBLISHED
Writing articles and opinion columns for periodicals is a craft, as is editing the piece and getting it to the proper outlets for publication. Some advice on getting your work into print.
Z PLAYERS WORKSHOP
Can we produce informative, entertain-ing short skits to enhance radio, free speech TV, video productions, and Internet (YouTube)? In this workshop we will put together some sample material and film it. In addition, can we form a network of “Z Players” who share material and create video/ audio/live performance in cities and towns all over the globe?
21ST CENTURY ANARCHISM
This class will explore the long history of Anarchism, stressing new forms of practice and thought emerging as part of contemporary global justice movements. Anarchism is a sophisticated and developed political tradition, one that has been put into practice formally, and much more commonly informally, around the world. This class will focus on visionary components of anarchist ideas and practices.
CLASS AND US: U.S. POLITICAL ECONOMY
What classes are most critical in the U.S. How do they interrelate? What are their agendas? How does class impact economic life? The three class versus two class approachs...
DILEMMAS FOR ARGENTINEAN SOCIAL MOVEMENTS
This course offers an analysis of the diverse non-hierarchical social movements that sprang up in Argentina after 1996 (and especially after the 2001 rebellion) and their fate in recent years. The relationship between local/ autonomous power and the state will receive particular attention.
HOW THE RIGHT WING TOOK POWER
Building a coalition that included Christian conservatives, militarists, big business, libertarians, and closet bigots took 30 years; but a handful of right-wing strategists built a broad and powerful network of social movements that took control of the Republican Party and shifted the country far to the Right. How they did it, and what we need to know to build a movement to reverse this reality.
INSTITUTIONAL POWER, THE LEFT, AND NONHIERARCHY
Why does the U.S. Left organize its institutions hierarchically and what are the political and social consequences of this practice for building movements and changing consciousness? The author will draw on parecon and other systems of nonhierarchical organizing to show how these form a practice consistent with liberatory values. She will also discuss her involvement in two Canadian parecon collectives, and draw upon practical lessons learned about how nonhierarchical models can position themselves to challenge institutional power on the Left.
This class will examine the definition of racism and its emergence as a critical factor constraining the aspirations of Africans and other people of color in the U.S. historically, and explore the current impact of the “white backlash” against affirmative action and race-based remedies in the courts and public policy.
THE LEFT TRADITION AND ITS CURRENT “IDENTITY CRISIS”
This course focuses on Left “identity” and the cultural dimension of Left politics. It seeks to make visible the cultural shortcomings of the main radical traditions in the 20th century, and the way people and movements are trying to overcome them today.
A lecture/Q&A addressing the broad role and current practices of mainstream media, international relations, domestic policies, the economy, and almost everything except the kitchen sink--and maybe that too.
THE MIDDLE EAST, PART 1 & 2
Stephen Shalom & Justin Podur
The Middle East is a region of multiple conflicts, each with profound consequences for the people of the region and for the world beyond. In Part 1, we will discuss the ongoing U.S. war in Iraq and the possibilities of war with Iran. In Part 2, we will take up the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In both sessions we will consider U.S. strategy and motives, occupation policies, different indigenous political forces and resistance groups and movements, and how activists can think about and practice solidarity with oppressed people.
Queer Theory is an academic discipline that grew out of post-structuralist, postmodern critical theory. But it can also be--like critical race theory--a productive lens for political action. We will briefly cover some basics of LGBT history and activism and look at how the emergence of “queer theory” in the academy and the movement challenged the traditional ideas of “identity politics” that has shaped progressive thinking for the last four decades. How does queer activism fit into progressive organizing? What is its relation to queer theory and vice versa? Are all queers progressive, or vice versa, and what does sex have to do with it?
RADICAL THEORY, PART 1 & 2
What is radical theory? What concepts and relations among concepts will facilitate understanding the modern world to change it? What does good theory tell us, broadly, about societies and history? What theories do we need to jettison or to transcend? Feminism, nationalism, marxism, anarchism, environmentalism.
WOMEN & REVOLUTION, PART 1 & 2
The corporate owned women’s magazines have declared the women's movement dead (or no longer necessary as the battle has been “won”), even as they promote products with “feminist” slogans and market products to “feminists.” Meanwhile, the right wing pushes its “traditional values” agenda by which they mean women returning to their “god-given roles as wives and mothers” under a male head of household. So what are the feminist contributions to liberating theories and the left? What is the state of the world for women today? Where are we along the trajectory toward feminist revo-lution? In Part 2, we'll look at the various visions and strategies for creating a participatory feminist society and perhaps develop a vision of our own.
Strategy and Vision
How activists in the north can relate to peoples movements in the south? What have been the pitfalls of past and recent solidarity activism? Lessons will be drawn from various experiences, of relating to the Zapatistas of Mexico, the Bolivarians of Venezuela, the Palestinians, Colombians, Haiti and Lavalas, and Cuba. Some general principles of solidarity will be discussed.
KINSHIP VISION, PART 1 & 2
We all agree that we want to put an end to sexist practices and patriarchal norms, but what would daily life look like if sexism weren’t helping to shape it? How would we arrange ourselves in families, raise our children, support positive sexual expression, and take care of each other? What sorts of families, social arrangements, and institutional practices would foster solidarity and equality across genders? Bring your imaginations and ideas to this talk/discussion on what kinship might look like in a better world.
PARTICIPATORY ECONOMICS, PART 1 & 2
Developing the participatory economic (parecon) vision from scratch -- and, depending on people's backgrounds and interests, exploring some of its details and implications.
What is participatory education? This class will explore the history of libertarian education, from Fourier’s educational vision, Maderleine Vernet’s libertarian school, Frerre’s Modern School, to contemporary experiments in emancipatory education. How does libertarian education fit in the frame-work of parecon?
Moving from a vision for economy to a vision for all of society--kinship, culture, polity, ecology, art, education, health, etc.
POLITICAL VISION, PARTS 1 & 2
What sort of political institutions would we like to see in a good society? How can we make decisions, carry them out, and adjudicate differences in a way that is consistent with our values? A political vision will be presented, along with applications to the present. The class will have an opportunity to discuss and critique the vision and consider alternatives
RACE & CULTURE VISION, PART 1 & 2
This course offers a vision of how culture and community could be dealt with in a good society. How can groups of people develop their identities freely, communicate within and across identities, and develop solidarity while retaining identity? How could a good society ensure that there is space for all this? What are the lessons for movements and activists now? Can these ideas offer any guidance in solving racial, ethnic, imperial, and religious conflicts today?
COMMUNITY ORGANIZING, PART 1 & 2
Part 1 will feature a lecture, Q&A, and discussion, covering some of the principles, pitfalls, and opportunities of organizing during the current moment. What does it mean to be anti-empire? How can we work locally and globally? What about race, gender, and class in our movements? How and why should we be considering neighborhood-based organizing? Part 2 will be a nuts-and-bolts, class in which we will brainstorm ways to make grassroots organizing work and grow. We will share sample materials (bring some if you have them) and we will role play various organizing situations and discuss how to be effective. Most importantly, we will tackle the key question of how we can best go about fighting for reforms that can build a movement capable of achieving radical social change. Bring your ideas and experiences in order to share them and learn from others.
DEVELOPING STRATEGIES, PART 1 & 2
How do we win what we seek, not just short term, but also long term? Key aspects of strategy in general, and as we might settle on for our activism today.
LEFT STRATEGY IN LATIN AMERICA
This course discusses the relationship between social movements and political organizations in Latin America's recent history. The main focus will be on the difficulties movements have in preserving their autonomy and radical focus, while ensuring their capacity to influence political agendas.
LIBERATING YOUTH, PART 1 & 2
In Part 1, participants explore the theory of ageism as an oppression akin to racism and sexism, in context of radical theory, including political, economic, cultural and kinship forms of abuse and exploitation. We also consider the concept of “adultarchy” and its manifestations in society. Part 2 addresses the organizing of young people for their own freedom, as well as the concept of youth liberation applied more broadly, as part of the broader endeavor of social revolution. Why authentic social liberation must be driven by a radical youth movement.
PARTICIPATORY ECONOMICS IN PRACTICE
Jessica Azulay & Chris Spannos
So you’ve been to Michael Albert's sessions on economic vision and now you’re wondering if participatory workplaces and social movements are possible, right? Parecon in Practice will explore some real world examples of parecon and pareconish principles being put into action. This workshop is for anyone wondering how balanced job complexes really work, whether eliminating bosses really leads to empowerment for everyone, and what kind of practical steps we can take to get from here to there. Jessica Azulay and Chris Spannos will share some of their experiences building and working within collectively run, non-hierarchical organizations and movements, as well as what they have learned from others working in similar institutions.
The gay rights movement has been in existence since 1950 and has centered, to a large degree, on fighting for issues of sexual and personal freedom as well as eliminating legal and social dis-crimination against LGBT people. But in the broadest range of progressive movements, the LGBT movement has not always “played well with others” (and vice versa.) This class/discussion will look at how LGBT movement issues can be advantageously linked to those of to those of other movements and what the LGBT movement can learn from other progressive groups.
A personal look at events, people, movements, projects, etc., from the past four decades and trying to tease out useful lessons, while also entertaining, a bit.
REVOLUTION IN SOUTH AFRICA
This course is on post-apartheid South Africa. In 1994, the African National Congress won power and South Africa transitioned from an openly racist country run by minority whites. What exactly happened after the apartheid government and are there lessons to be learned?
THEATER, SATIRE, & SOCIAL CHANGE
We’ll discuss how theater of various kinds can be a larger part of activist efforts for social change. We’ll look at examples of political theater, news theater, agit prop, improv, street theater, cabaret, mime, and mainstream theater.
TOWARD A NEW ECOLOGICAL LEFT, PART 1 & 2
Popular discussions of today’s looming ecological crises are thoroughly lacking in political coherence or a systemic critique of the causes of environmental problems. We are repeatedly told that either personal lifestyle changes or “market mechanisms” are the only viable means of addressing climate disruptions, toxic pollution, or the destruction of important ecosystems. We will engage in a discussion of how to reach beyond these limitations, drawing upon the legacy of revolutionary ecological philosophies and movements, both in the U.S. and the global South.
1, we will discuss the ongoing U.S. war in Iraq and the possibilities of war with Iran. In Part 2, we will take up the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. In both sessions we will consider U.S. strategy and motives, occupation policies, different indigenous political forces and resistance groups and movements, and how activists can think about and practice solidarity with oppressed people.
We’re currently compiling an email list of our Z Media Institute graduates.
If you attended one of our previous ZMIs and would like some more info about future ZMI related events (such as a possible reunion or future media projects), please email us back at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please include the year you attended in the email along with any other info you think we should have.