Social Action Coordinating Committee

Project Proposal: MIT Social Action Coordinating Committee

The Social Action Coordinating Committee (SACC), originally known as the Science Action Coordination Committee, was a student activist group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from 1969 to 1973(?). Initially, the group tasked itself with collective action in opposition to military research at MIT and the war in Vietnam, employing a variety of tactics. In attempt to broaden its scope, the group later turned to support the women’s movement, as well as the Black Panthers. A large archive of documentation of its activities, including meeting minutes, correspondences, and the media they produced or circulated exists in the MIT Institute Archives and Special Collections. In this study, I will work closely with the documentation of the group, performing in-depth case analysis and producing information for comparison with larger student movements of the period.

 

Research Question

Generally, I am interested in evaluating the tactics, particularly media, employed by the SACC in terms of various measures of effectiveness. As I learn more about the movement, the question will become better defined. For instance, I may consider broadening the temporal scope of the question to account for how its change in tactics might have resulted in its decline of the group. Alternatively, I might want to do a study of effectiveness of strategies used for antiwar movements compared to those used for more general movements.

 

Case Selection

My position as an MIT student allows access to the institute archives, which facilitates an intimate knowledge of the group which would not otherwise be feasible. With this knowledge in-hand, the case of the SACC is of interest for a number of reasons. It is an instance of a thriving student activist group at an institute that has virtually no record of activism otherwise. Further, MIT’s position as a leading research institution biases the mass media towards it and makes it a potential role model for other schools, suggesting a high likelihood for tactical diffusion. Perhaps most importantly, MIT received huge (90) percentage of its funding from the Department of Defense, potentially catalyzing forms of activism that might be otherwise unprecedented at other universities.

 

Methods

The research will take the form of a case study proceeding in an exploratory fashion. Findings will primarily based upon archival research and literature review, though there is potential to contact movement participants and conduct interviews.

 

Workplan

To be able to recognize qualities unique to the MIT movement, it will first be necessary to acquire a working knowledge of overall antiwar movement of SACC’s contemporaries.

Once this is accomplished, I will turn to the MIT Institute Archives, where I will conduct the majority of my research. This will involve an initial reading through the four boxes to determine the relevant documents, which will then be analyzed deeply and comparatively. Afterwards, if it appears that there is relevant information which is not available in the MIT archives, I will attempt to locate it in other sources, such as interviews, books, newspapers or other archives.

Throughout this process, I will be open to criticism and inspiration from my peer researchers.

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