Labor Activist Academy

The curriculum consists of four comprehensive non-credit courses designed to develop critical thinking skills and to increase capacity for building power. Using a multi-union and organization setting, the courses encourage participation and networking with other activists.

Each course includes three sessions, meeting one night per week from 6:00–8:30 p.m. Participants who complete all four courses will graduate with a certificate of completion from Penn State.

All programs are conducted in partnership with one or more central labor councils.

For the 2021–2022 academic year, courses will be held online for participants from across the commonwealth of Pennsylvania beginning in September 2021 with dates and information below. Learn more about the Virtual LAA program.

In-person Labor Activist Academies will be held in specific locations beginning in January 2022.

Course 1: Our Current Labor Landscape: Lessons for Twenty-First Century Unions (September 15, 22, 29)

Course 2: Building Power: Mobilizing Members (October 13, 20, 27)

Course 3: Building Power: Effective Communications (November 10, 17, and December 1)

Course 4: Bridging Divisions: Building a Stronger Labor Movement (January 12, 19, 26)

To register for the courses below, please click here

Courses include the following: 

1. Our Current Labor Landscape: Lessons for 21st Century Unions
This course will focus on the challenges faced by labor organizations and workers today, how we got here, and the implications for building a more effective labor movement. We will gain an appreciation for the rich history of worker collective action and how labor organizations have related historically to broader struggles for economic, social, and civil rights. Participants will gain an understanding of how our economy has shifted and what this means for workers and our organizations going forward.

2. Building Power: Mobilizing Members
Renewing our movement begins with organizing our own members and learning how to engage them as active participants in the work of labor. How can we generate more member participation to build strong and sustainable organizations? This course will focus on the basic elements to more successfully engage and mobilize fellow members. We will share strategies and ideas to strengthen member commitment and activism.

3. Building Power: Effective Communications
Member awareness and understanding of the values, mission, and successes of our organizations is a key component of building union power. If people don’t know about the work we’re doing, the organization has lost an opportunity to inspire and engage others in action. This course will focus on telling our union stories and improving individual communication; assessing how we communicate with members, including digital and social media; and sharing best practices to improve

4. Bridging Divisions: Building a Stronger Labor Movement
Unity among union members and across unions remains essential for a strong and successful labor movement. At the same time, we face all sorts of division—including interpersonal conflict, generational differences, and racial and gender divides to name a few. In this course, we will explore these differences as a source of strength and identify how to build an inclusive union culture. We will also discuss the critical role of bridging across divisions with other organizations to address the challenges workers face in the 21st century.