Transformative Studies Institute
The Transformative Studies Institute (TSI) is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational think tank based in the United States. It “was created to provide an inclusive educational space for research and practice for social justice by academics, community organizers, activists, and political leaders”. TSI is managed and operated by fully volunteer academics, activists, and the concerned public. It has been noted by Korgen, Kathleen et al. in Sociologists in Action (2010) as a model for engaging college students with public sociology and increased civic engagement.
The Transformative Studies Institute was established in 2007 by Dr. John Asimakopoulos and Dr. Ali Zaidi, who had been fired from the Bronx campus of the City University of New York. Dr. Asimakopoulos describes the birth of TSI: Once I gathered myself I decided to fight back in a meaningful way. As I explained to my poor parents, the problem was not this or some other employer, but the system itself, which permitted and encouraged these unethical preindustrial labor practices to occur. Academe was the guilty one, not CUNY, which was a specific instance of a general institution flawed to its core. Dr. Asimakopoulos took his case to arbitration winning a rare victory in 2008. He subsequently obtained tenure and promotion to Associate Professor of Sociology with CUNY-Bronx. Dr. Ali Zaidi due to lack of funds for a private attorney and pressured by his own union accepted a settlement and moved on to the State University of New York-Canton. Both continue to operate TSI together with an international team of scholar-activists.
TSI applies the principles of Transformative learning to improve society and obtain social justice. It is an anti-capitalist and anti-authoritarian educational institution that counter-balances conservative pro-capitalist think tanks and policy institutes that enjoy generous funding from corporations and wealthy individuals and has been criticized on the website of David Horowitz, author of The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America. TSI is opposed to the privatization of public resources and social services. Instead, it seeks to promote social justice through direct democracy in both politics and the economy. TSI believes that this is achievable primarily through societal education, based on critical pedagogy, than through revolutionary direct action alone. To this end the long-term goal of TSI is to establish a tuition-free accredited graduate school. The institute also publishes independent peer-reviewed journals including Theory in Action, operates a speakers’ bureau, the independent TSI Press, a fellowship program, various community outreach projects, and provides consulting services and custom policy papers. TSI also launched Transformative Radio in 2010 which includes interviews of significant figures from the progressive Left
TSI scholars come from a wide variety of disciplines and fields including anthropology, art, critical race theory, disability studies, economics, environmental studies, feminist theory, film studies, geography, history, journalism, media studies, peace and conflict studies, philosophy, political science, queer theory, religious studies, social work, and sociology.
TSI has been active in presentation of research, as co-sponsor, and exhibitor at various academic and activist conferences including the Eastern Sociological Society, North American Anarchist Studies Network Conference, and the Institute for Critical Animal Studies. In 2010 TSI participated in a conference unveiling a first of its kind collaborative program with the Anarchist Studies Initiative of the State University of New York Cortland to house TSI’s Sacco and Vanzetti Foundation. In addition, TSI’s Political Media Review (PMR) has been given attention by AK Press and PM Press two of the most respected progressive publishing houses. In June 2010 TSI also launched a new video e-journal titled Crushing Capitalism with Dr. Asimakopoulos. The journal “analyzes current events and scholarly topics such as imperialism, censorship, propaganda, political corruption, and corporate power.”
TSI is currently in the process of developing an accredited graduate school. The graduate school will offer an interdisciplinary PhD and Master’s degree based on the principle of Transformative Learning and Paulo Freire’s critical pedagogy through which peoples’ perceptions can be changed allowing them to see possibilities of social organization beyond that of capitalism and free markets. The interdisciplinary curriculum will bridge theory with praxis to alleviate social problems.
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- Kathleen Odell Korgen, Jonathan M. White, and Shelley K. White, Sociologists in Action, Pine Forge Press, 2010.
- Steven Best and others, Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex, Oakland: AK Press, 2009.
- Steven Best and others, Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex, Oakland: AK Press, 2009. pp. 506
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- Institute for Critical Animal Studies. Criticalanimalstudies.org. Retrieved on January 17, 2012.
- Anarchist Studies Initiative of SUNY Cortland. .cortland.edu. Retrieved on January 17, 2012.
- SUNY Cortland – Sacco and Vanzetti Foundation. .cortland.edu (August 23, 1927). Retrieved on January 17, 2012.
- AK Press. Revolutionbythebook.akpress.org (August 23, 2010). Retrieved on January 17, 2012.
- Crushing Capitalism with Dr. Asimakopoulos. Youtube.com (January 25, 2010). Retrieved on January 17, 2012.
- Crushing Capitalism with Dr. Asimakopoulos. Transformativestudies.org. Retrieved on January 17, 2012.
- Shannon, Deric, Nocella, Anthony J. and Asimakopoulos, John. (Eds.). (2012). The Accumulation of Freedom: Writings on Anarchist Economics. Oakland: AK Press. ISBN 978-1-84935-094-5
- John Asimakopoulos. 2011. Revolt! The Next Great Transformation from Kleptocracy Capitalism to Libertarian Socialism through Counter-Ideology, Societal Education, & Direct Action. New Jersey: Transformative Studies Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-9832982-0-5
- Kathleen Odell Korgen, Jonathan M. White, and Shelley K. White (Eds.). 2010. Sociologists in Action. Pine Forge Press. ISBN 978-1-4129-8283-2
- Anthony J. Nocella II, Steven Best, and Peter McLaren (eds.). 2009. Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex. Oakland: AK Press. ISBN 978-1-904859-98-7
- Best, Steven and Nocella, Anthony J. 2006. Igniting a Revolution: Voices in Defense of the Earth. Oakland: AK Press. ISBN 1-904859-56-9