Further Reading

Relevant Institutions


University in New York that became part of a landmark lawsuit in which the Board of Trustees was largely replaced by the courts.


College in Ohio founded by Horace Mann with a radical history and interesting historical ties to Cooper. Board attempted to commercially franchise the school’s brand, resulting in bankruptcy. A group of alumni bought the college back and reopened it, granting full scholarships to all for the first several years, and instituting a model of cooperative- based self-governance.


University in Virginia at which several trustees engaged in a secret campaign to oust the school’s beloved president, who stood in the way of their agenda. The community was enraged, successfully exposing the board’s secret dealings and reinstating the president.


College in Washington D.C., was engaged in a Supreme Court lawsuit over mismanagement, but wasn’t awarded standing and is slated to be absorbed into a larger institution.


Engineering college in Glen Cove, New York that awards full-scholarships to all students. Cooper’s former President George Campbell is on their board.

Deep Springs

Two year alternative all-male college in California founded by L.L. Nunn, on an extremely secluded ranch with cooperative- based self-governance. Free to all who attend, currently facing a struggle with its board over co-education.


Free college in Kentucky where students contribute by working, why studing.


Engineering college in Massachusetts that awarded full-scholarships to all for its first several years, and has since fallen back to a partial-scholarship model.


University in upstate New York with interesting structures for making students part of its Board of Trustees.


Washington-based software company behind games such as Half Life and game-distribution platform Steam. Known for their structures of self- organization that are unique within their industry.

Mondragon Corporation

Huge worker cooperative in Spain that also runs a school. Decentralised and self governed, owned by students, faculties, and workers.

Summer Hill

English school for 6 to 17 year olds that operates in a democratic and self-governing fashion with no set curriculum, behavior codes, or compulsory classes. Over 100 years old, it has consistently proven itself under intense scrutiny to be a working model of education based on the premise that children are eager to learn and remain that way until their curiosity is put down by traditional education structures. Unofficial motto: “Freedom, not Licence.”

Black Mountain

Widely-revered college of art in North Carolina, in operation between 1933 and 1957. Brought Bauhaus to America. Influenced Cooper’s art program.


Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (Association for Student Union Solidarity). A temporary coalition to counter tuition hikes and coordinate 2012 Quebec student protests. Successful in halting tuition hikes. Operates by direct democracy. Popularized the red square.

Further Reading

Historical Cooper Documents:

Working Group Plan

Report. Put together in three months under duress and still better financially and culturally than tuition. Read before you ask if there’s an alternative to tuition.

Docket. The Committee to Save Cooper Union’s lawyers filed a lot of important evidence with the courts about appearances of insider dealing and mismanagement at Cooper, accompanied by detailed and straightforward explanations.

Fall of the Faculty

by Benjamin Ginsberg

Book. History of how faculty used to play a larger role in administration, and the rise of “administrative bloat.”

Leverage Points: Places at Which to Intervene in a System

by Donella Meadows

Essay. A great introduction to systems- thinking. How to change systems, with methods organized by effectiveness, up to the transcendence of paradigms!

Debt: the First 5000 Years

by David Graeber

Book. An exhaustive anti-authoritarian history of debt as a human phenomenon, from the origins of money to contemporary rent- extraction economies.

Envisioning a Sustainable World

by Donella Meadows

Essay. Influential text on visionary thinking that also serves as a how-to. Ignorant Schoolmaster by Jacques Ranciere Book. French philosopher using the story of historical educator Joseph Jacotot to cover pedagogy, human nature, education, emancipation, and universal intelligence.

The Coming Insurrection

by The Invisible Committee

Book. Insurrectionist political text theorizing the end of capitalism: “an entity in its death throes sacrifices itself as a content in order to survive as a form.”

Binding Chaos

by Heather Marsh

Blog posts and eBook. Provocations on post- democratic global collaborative methods of self-governance.

Communique from an Absent Future

Manifesto. Came out of University of California occupations. Details the entanglement of university and capital.

Pray for Calamity

Blog. Anarchism and the End of Civilization. “Crises like climate change, peak oil, deforestation, species die-off, top soil loss – all needed to be addressed decades and decades ago. Talking about them solves nothing….Technology is being used to maintain the status quo as the train of industrial civilization hurtles towards a gorge.”

Seeing Like a State: Why Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed

by James C. Scott

Book. High-modernist tendencies + authoritarian government = dire results. Describes the ways in which states have developed and refined their administrative sense organs and created highly legible populations. University of the Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study by Fred Moten & Stefano Harney Book. From the back cover: “[Moten & Harney] draw on the theory and practice of the black radical tradition as it supports, inspires, and extends contemporary social and political thought and aesthetic critique.” Neither for nor against the university, Moten & Harney poetically trash shit and reveal another world.

Pedagogy of the Oppressed

by Paolo Freire

Book. Theory of the relationships between teacher, student, and society, advocating for an oppositional pedagogy and against the dominant “banking” model of education in the struggle of oppressor and oppressed.

Tools for Organizing


Private chatrooms that work across smartphones, dumbphones (e.g. text messages), and web browsers. Useful for ongoing banter and during actions.


Mass text message announcements. This is a two-way service but not as good for chatting as GroupMe.

Google Docs

Share documents, spreadsheets, and files. Useful for collaborative writing and resource-sharing.


Collaborative to-do list that has been used during actions to coordinate tasks across a large group.


Social network for code, this is where we’re hosting the Disorientation website and other code-related projects.


Collaborative text-editor with wiki features like document linking, is public by default, and keeps track of authorship better than Google Docs.


Social network. Lots of community banter happens on groups like Save Cooper Union, private groups are sometimes used for organizing, messages can be a useful way to reach people who don’t check their email, events can draw people in to actions or workshops, and several pages (like Free Cooper Union) keep people informed or share funny stuff. Pro tip: if you’re setting up an event, get various people to download an “Invite All” browser extension and use it to invite their networks.


The other major social network for distributing information, keeping track of banter, and participating in discussion. There is an official @FreeCooperUnion account, and other groups have accounts too. The search function is useful.

Google News

Search engine for news. After a press event or announcement you can refresh the search for “Cooper Union” to keep track of articles as they come in. You can also set up alerts that will email you a summary as articles appear.


Stream live video at a public URL in realtime from your smartphone or computer. Useful to have ready to go before an action.


Petition platform. Vaguely spammy, but can be a good display of public support for a position.


Collect email signups and send newsletters.


Social network for short looping videos. Subsidiary of Twitter. Easier than producing a video and sometimes as effective at conveying what’s going on in a clip.


Self-hosted alternative for email newsletters, less regulation of lists than Mailchimp, and can be cheaper at scale.


Political organizing platform that can be used to centralize social media, mailing, and fundraising activities.