Democracy School

Just like the civil rights movement had the Highlander Institute in Tennessee – attended by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., – the new community rights movement has the Democracy School.

The Daniel Pennock Democracy School is our flagship education program and a key piece of our community organizing. Named for a boy in Pennsylvania who died after exposure to sewage sludge, the Democracy School is a stimulating and illuminating course that teaches residents and activists how to reframe exhausting and often discouraging single issue work (such as opposing fracking, pipelines, GMOs, etc.) in a way that we can confront corporate control and state preemption on a powerful single front: people’s inalienable rights.

Democracy School explores the limits of conventional regulatory organizing and offers a new organizing model that helps citizens confront the usurpation by corporations of the rights of communities, people, and earth. Lectures cover the history of people’s movements and corporate power, and the dramatic organizing over the last decade in Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Ohio, Colorado, Washington, and Oregon by communities confronting agribusiness, the oil and gas industry, corporate hegemony over worker rights, and others. Included with enrollment in the Democracy School is a 300 plus-page notebook of background reading material.



“If you take no other training this year, do the Democracy School. It is a superlative unfolding revelation of how corporations have hijacked democracy. It meticulously deconstructs the historical arc that brought us to this precipice. But most importantly, it then departs into the highly pragmatic and inspiring work now underway that is slowly turning the tide . . . This Second American Revolution may be the most important political work going on anywhere in the country or the world.

-Kenny Ausubel ‘05, Founder and Co-Executive Director, Bioneers


“Democracy School was a mind-blowing experience. During the School, I was forced to come to grips with the understanding that I really knew very little about the true structure of law that controls our activism. Democracy School is a must for everyone who seeks to be liberated from our defensive, after-the-fact reactive organizing strategies.”

-Krishnaveni Gundu, ’05, Calhoun County (TX) Resource Watch


The Democracy School is intended to help people see clearly through the fog, to understand their own history, and to drive change to the very basic foundations of this country. Such understanding builds momentum to unite, to resist, and to build anew.


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View the Democracy School Curriculum