Once seen as rebellious questioning of the establishment, community organizing is now mainstream.Ever since the 2008 presidential election, there has been plenty of analysis on how and why community organizing led to the election of President Barack Obama and how it will affect future elections.
This semester, Lindsay Webb, a member of the Toledo City Council, is teaching a new course on community organizing.
Sociology 4100, Community Organizing and Development, has one section and meets Thursday nights.
“This is my first time teaching in any setting,” Webb said. “I am hoping for a decent-sized class full of a variety of people from all political perspectives. The course will involve numerous practical examples around community organizing and community development, and will include information on Toledo case studies.”
Webb said the class would look at both local and national levels of community organizing, and would focus on the history and traditions as well as specific cases such as two involving the Northwest Ohio Conservative Coalition and Moveon.org.
Both President Obama and former President George W. Bush have utilized community organizing as a means to get elected, with President Obama’s get-out-the-vote initiative in 2008 and 2012, and Bush’s organization through the National Rifle Association and other organizations in 2000 and 2004.
The game changed between 2008 and last year’s election with greater access to new technology and a steep decline to the number of U.S. homes with phone landlines.
“We will look at what works and how social media has changed it,” Webb said.
In addition to her time as a member of the Toledo City Council, Webb has been involved with the National Employment Law Project, a nonprofit worker advocacy group that has helped unemployed and dislocated workers, as well as immigrants and low-income people.
Webb said she contacted the University after having a chance to work with UT students. Her passion for the topic she is teaching has motivated her to enter the classroom.
“I have had the chance to interface with a number of social work students,” Webb said. “I felt like I would be good at it.”
A UT alumna, Webb has a bachelor of arts degree in urban affairs and a law degree from UT. She said she spent much of her time in political science classes while attending the University.