QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
WILPF FACT SHEET
The first session of the study group provides an opportunity for the group members to meet each other, find out about the design and content of the course, agree upon discussion and facilitation guidelines, work out logistical details, and conduct an initial discussion. The objectives of the study groups are:
(1) to frame learning and discussion in ways that focus on the root causes of corporate and state oppression
(2) to direct efforts for change in law and culture toward those public officials and public bodies that must take the authority to place economic institutions and all corporate entities under the control of a self-governing people
Begin the session by allowing everyone to introduce themselves and tell why they are interested in this particular study group. Then the convenor of the meeting can lead the group through the following material.
Structure: Before every meeting each person receives a set of materials (a cover sheet and readings) to read and reflect on before the discussion (reading will take 1-2 hours per session). The study packet includes suggested questions for the discussion, but groups are free to create their own questions in addition to, or instead of, the ones in the packet.
The reading materials have not been selected to provide a balanced view of corporate power and and its impacts on countries and people in all parts of the world. In modern society we are inundated with the corporate perspective on almost every issue. These materials are intended to provide pieces of the largely untold story of how corporations have come to dominate our lives in the name of profit and at the expense of people and the planet. The study groups represent an opportunity to create intentional laboratories to experience and practice democracy. This initial session focuses on the process the group chooses to use in its discussions.
Democracy is a word we use daily in the United States, but many of us have not had the opportunity or motivation to think deeply about what it means to be a self-governing people. The study groups provide us with an opportunity to challenge ourselves to notice and explore both content and process during discussions.
Discussion Guidelines: Allow each person in the group to describe how much experience she or he has with group discussion. Review Reading 1, "Study Group Guidelines - Process and Facilitation," as needed. For some groups this material may already be familiar territory, but for others, it should help the group structure itself. Remember: this is your study group! Design processes that work for you.
The date, time, frequency, place, and duration of each session are up to the group. Most groups find two hours per discussion to be about right. We recommend that the group meet weekly or every other week to maintain continuity with the material and to develop the cohesiveness of the group. (If an already-intact group is using these materials, monthly meetings may be ok.) At this initial session, the group will need to:
We suggest that each person obtain a three-ring notebook to keep all their materials in one place. We also recommend that you use recycled paper and use both sides when making photocopies.
The people in each group represent a range of experience and knowledge about the subjects for discussion and other related topics. A few of the readings are somewhat academic and intellectually challenging; others are more easily accessible. In the evaluation forms that WILPF has been receiving from around the country, some people find a particular reading stimulating and provocative while others find it confusing or even useless. This diversity of experience and response to the readings fuels each group's discussions.
Optimal group size is 6-10 people to ensure enough viewpoints for lively discussion and adequate opportunity for everyone to participate. An evaluation form is included with the materials in this session. We ask that each person in the group, or the group as a whole, please provide us with this feedback. It has been extremely helpful to us to improve the study materials and find out what works and what doesn't. You may wish to fill in the form as you go, especially comments about which readings you found particularly useful or useless, which is why the form is provided now.
In addition to the readings for each session, there is a list of additional material that groups may use in a variety of ways. The primary purpose for this is to provide any individual or the entire group with an opportunity to dive deeper into the topic if they wish. Here are some possible ways the group might use these materials:
When a reading has been taken from a book, we provide the title, author, and publishing information so anyone interested can obtain it (note: we urge you to use the library and purchase books from independent bookstores whenever possible). Some of the materials are available on the internet. Some of them are pamphlets or videotapes, for which we provide the publishing organization. If there is no publishing information, the material is available from WILPF - contact Mary Zepernick at 314 Wood Road, S. Yarmouth, MA 02661; 508.398.1023; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please let us know about any supplementary materials that you recommend adding to the list. Also let us know if we need to make any corrections regarding where to obtain materials.
Discussion: After reviewing the course and working out whatever logistical needs the group has, use the remaining time in this initial session for the first discussion. Distribute the materials for this session and allow everyone five minutes to read the campaign proposal remarks by Virginia Rasmussen (Reading 3) and then discuss your reactions, concerns, and ideas. (In addition, or alternatively, you may wish to use the first three questions from the Q&A document, Reading 2.)
The Constitution of the United States of America.
REMARKS ON THE CAMPAIGN PROPOSAL
There have been four pervasive patriarchal institutions in the history of Western Civilization. These are the classical empires, the ecclesiastical institutions, the nation state and the modern corporation. But the WORST of these is the modern corporation.
It holds this distinction because it exerts the functions and powers of all those other institutions AND more.
Like the classical empires, the giant corporations have become global empire. Like the ecclesiastical institutions, they preach a faith and pronounce what is of value. Like the nation states, they are now our government, and determined to bring us our future.
In addition, the modern corporation increasingly determines the nature, content and our personal roles within the economy, the world of work and the educational system. They steadily shape the nature of our communities, of our very planet, and our relationship with both.
The biggest of these giant multinationals are larger in income and budget than most nation-states and growing.
Along with this relentless growth, the world has been experiencing "ever deepening environmental degradation, widespread unemployment and economic insecurity, displacement of peoples and cultures, violence against and trafficking in women and girls, pandemic poverty, an unraveling of the social fabric, and an assault on democratic institutions and spiritual values."
This proposal, "Challenging Corporate Power, Asserting the People's Rights," recognizes and responds to the need for a new kind of struggle to wrest power over life, law and culture from these corporate bodies.
The proposal focuses WILPF's efforts to do this work in three major realms:
Such campaigns might center around
Women's International League for Peace and Freedom
United States Section
1213 Race Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107-1691
Website: www.wilpf.org _______________________________________________________________________________
FIRST INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT
FIRST INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY
U. S. SECTION CHAIR Phyllis S. Yingling
SPONSORS Dr. Maya Angelou
WILPF FACT SHEET