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Civic LaborsScholar Activism and Working-Class Studies$
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Dennis Deslippe, Eric Fure-Slocum, and John W. Mckerley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040498

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040498.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 04 August 2021

The Polk School

The Polk School

Intersections of Women’s Labor Leadership Education and the Public Sphere

(p.177) Chapter 11 The Polk School
Civic Labors

Emily E. LB. Twarog

University of Illinois Press

In this chapter, the author examines the transformative role of a multiday residential labor school in which she served as director, both for the female participants and for herself: the Regina V. Polk Women's Labor Leadership Conference, or Polk School. The school's institutional home is the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's School of Labor and Employment Relations–Labor Education Program (LEP). The author discusses the school's origins as well as its impact on newer generations of women in a changing labor movement. It also considers Regina Polk's legacy and how the leadership training program established in her name encourages and nurtures democracy through access, agency, and power to the public sphere. The program helps emerging leaders gain specific organizational skills and, even more importantly, reach new levels of confidence and commitment to organizing. The author also describes how her involvement in the Polk School has expanded her role as a labor scholar and educator, offering the rewards of a larger public role.

Keywords:   labor movement, Polk School, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, women, Regina Polk, leadership training, democracy, agency, public sphere, organizing

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