David Elcott

David Elcott
The Henry and Marilyn Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership

David Elcott has spent the last twenty-five years at the intersection of community building, the search for a theory of cross-boundary engagement, and interfaith and ethnic organizing and activism. Trained in political psychology and Middle East affairs at Columbia University and Judaic studies at the American Jewish University, Dr. Elcott is the Taub Professor of Practice in Public Service and Leadership at the Wagner School of Public Service at NYU and associate faculty at the Research Center for Leadership in Action.  He also co-directs the Dual Degree Program in Jewish Studies and Wagner. Over the past four years, Dr. Elcott has worked to build a robust training program of community organizing and advocacy campaigns housed in Wagner and attended by students from across the university. We have focused on supporting changes in criminal justice procedures, food justice and immigration reform and, this year, challenging regulations that affect reentry of parolees in NYC housing.  His goal is to offer year-round opportunities for NYU students to learn the skills, tools and theories of social justice transformation.

 

He was formally the Vice-President of the National Center for Learning and Leadership, a think-tank tasked with training community leaders to rethink the nature of contemporary community and civic obligation. As Interreligious Affairs Director of the American Jewish Committee and as the Executive Director of the Israel Policy Forum, David has addressed a wide array of public policy issues, building interfaith and interethnic coalitions to address Middle East peace, immigration reform, civil liberties and workers rights. He has mediated conflicts between and among religious communities in the U.S. and around the world,  finding collaborations and solutions on issues as diverse as posthumous Mormon Baptisms, financing the World Lutheran Federation’s hospital in Jerusalem, the conflicts over The Passion of the Christ and Israeli-Palestinian issues with many members of the National Council of Churches.  He led a major event at the Arizona-Mexican border and helped organize national demonstrations for immigration reform.

 

His present research is focused in two areas: With a Ford Foundation grant, Dr. Elcott addresses how religious leaders affect civil discourse and democracy, searching for pathways for constructive religious involvement in civic affairs. With grants from the Meyerhoff and Taub Foundations, he seeks to mobilize the baby-boomer cohort for encore professional and volunteer careers in public service. He has written A Sacred Journey: The Jewish Quest for a Perfect World and numerous articles and monographs on power and war, minority civic engagement, and cross-cultural pluralism. He has represented the Jewish community in interfaith settings in Europe, South America and Asia. 

In 2013, Dr. Elcott received NYU’s  Martin Luther King Faculty Award.

Semester Course
Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2197.001 Taub Seminar
We enter any subject of investigation filled with learned viewpoints, opinions, and select facts that we choose to employ. This helps to make the task of uncovering what we mean by Jewish and Jewish community fraught with unusual difficulty. Whatever our background, it will be hard to shake preconceived positions. In addition, the Jewish community seeks to nurture purely voluntary association at a time of little support in the popular culture for sustaining communal norms, existing institutions or unenforceable obligations. Our study must also then be understood within the larger American context of voluntary associations.

The Taub seminar will wrestle with such issues as identity, communal organization, core and fringe, and the indices and litmus tests of institutionalized belonging. We will explore how power is defined, how leaders are selected and consensus determined. We will examine the wide range of communal institutions and organizations – philanthropic, educational, social, religious and social service – that place themselves within the orbit of the Jewish community to uncover how they define their missions, establish authority, make decisions, recruit involvement and gain (or lose) loyalty and affiliation. As important, we will test the capacities of these institutions and their leaders to address the many challenges they face in an environment of waning allegiance and obligation.
Download Syllabus
Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2106.001 Community Organizing

Introduction to Community Organizing is for those who could imagine running national or local advocacy organizations that make change happen or anyone who wants to understand the art of community organizing. It will provide an overview of and training in contemporary community organizing practice in the United States. This includes defining what community organizing is and identifying its value base; exploring the strategies, tactics and activities of organizing; and thinking about marketing, language and evaluation. We also will examine the transformations of civic engagement and voluntary associations in the United States and the impact of these transformations on the ways Americans organize and advocate for change.

But there is a larger lesson here: The skills of community organizing – listening, finding areas of consensus and building on that consensus, finding ways to make change happen – are skills that can be applied to all professional and life settings. Through readings, class activities, cases studies, speakers and reflection, students will examine skills and techniques for effective organizing, including building a membership base, developing ordinary people as community leaders and running member-led issue campaigns. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on and strengthen their own skills as community organizers and advocates.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2014 PADM-GP.2407.001 Advocacy Lab: How to Make Change Happen

The new and retooled Advocacy Lab is for those who could imagine working in national or local advocacy organizations that make change happen or anyone who wants to understand the art of issue advocacy as a theory and method of social change. An advocacy campaign attempts to impact public policy, most often through changes in regulations and/or legislation. There are a wide range of roles campaign workers can play from research and policy analysis to education, public relations and organizing constituencies to reaching out to a wide range of influential, legislators and other government officials. At the same time, the skills of public advocacy– listening, finding areas of consensus and building on that consensus, finding ways to make change happen – are skills that can be applied to all professional and life settings.

The advocacy campaign for our class will support the development and launch of JustLeadershipUSA, led by Glenn Martin of the Fortune Society. This will be a new and unique national nonpartisan leadership and advocacy organization with a clear and deliberately ambitious long-term goal: to reduce the number of people in prison by half by the year 2030. The course will begin with intensive training – approximately 14 hours in the first two weeks – so that you can jump directly into launching an advocacy campaign with JustLeadershipUSA. The class will then meet periodically over the semester to check-in and meet with the JustLeadershipUSA team and key leaders and thinkers in the criminal justice reform world as well as with prosecutors, judges and political leaders.  The course will provide an overview of and training in how to affect public policy through advocacy campaigns, legislative lobbying, issue branding, coalition building and community organizing in the United States This is not simulation, but the real thing.

There are no prerequisites – only a passion for social justice.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2013 CORE-GP.1020.010 Managing Public Service Organizations (MPSO)

The goal of Managing Public Service Organizations (MPSO) is to enhance your management and leadership skills. The course provides you with the tools you need to diagnose and solve organizational problems, to influence the actions of individuals, groups, and organizations, and to lead high-performing, successful public service organizations.

A key management task is to assemble the skills, talents, and resources of individuals and groups into those combinations that best solve the organizational problems at hand. One must manage people, information, and processes to accomplish organizational goals. One must make things happen, and often not under ideal conditions or timeframes. The successful execution of these goals requires managers to be able to understand what they bring to and need from their organizations, formulate a mission and strategy, make effective decisions, influence and motivate diverse individuals, apply their own skills and abilities to their teams, optimize the structure and culture of their organization, diagnose problems, and drive organizational change.

MPSO prepares you to achieve these objectives by providing you with fundamental tools developed from the behavioral and social sciences and tested by leaders in organizations representing all sectors.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2012 CORE-GP.1020.010 Managing Public Service Organizations (MPSO)

The goal of Managing Public Service Organizations (MPSO) is to enhance your management and leadership skills. The course provides you with the tools you need to diagnose and solve organizational problems, to influence the actions of individuals, groups, and organizations, and to lead high-performing, successful public service organizations.

A key management task is to assemble the skills, talents, and resources of individuals and groups into those combinations that best solve the organizational problems at hand. One must manage people, information, and processes to accomplish organizational goals. One must make things happen, and often not under ideal conditions or timeframes. The successful execution of these goals requires managers to be able to understand what they bring to and need from their organizations, formulate a mission and strategy, make effective decisions, influence and motivate diverse individuals, apply their own skills and abilities to their teams, optimize the structure and culture of their organization, diagnose problems, and drive organizational change.

MPSO prepares you to achieve these objectives by providing you with fundamental tools developed from the behavioral and social sciences and tested by leaders in organizations representing all sectors.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2011 CORE-GP.1020.013 Managing Public Service Organizations (MPSO)

The goal of Managing Public Service Organizations (MPSO) is to enhance your management and leadership skills. The course provides you with the tools you need to diagnose and solve organizational problems, to influence the actions of individuals, groups, and organizations, and to lead high-performing, successful public service organizations.

A key management task is to assemble the skills, talents, and resources of individuals and groups into those combinations that best solve the organizational problems at hand. One must manage people, information, and processes to accomplish organizational goals. One must make things happen, and often not under ideal conditions or timeframes. The successful execution of these goals requires managers to be able to understand what they bring to and need from their organizations, formulate a mission and strategy, make effective decisions, influence and motivate diverse individuals, apply their own skills and abilities to their teams, optimize the structure and culture of their organization, diagnose problems, and drive organizational change.

MPSO prepares you to achieve these objectives by providing you with fundamental tools developed from the behavioral and social sciences and tested by leaders in organizations representing all sectors.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2011 PADM-GP.2407.001 Advocacy Lab: How to Make Change Happen

The new and retooled Advocacy Lab is for those who could imagine working in national or local advocacy organizations that make change happen or anyone who wants to understand the art of issue advocacy as a theory and method of social change. An advocacy campaign attempts to impact public policy, most often through changes in regulations and/or legislation. There are a wide range of roles campaign workers can play from research and policy analysis to education, public relations and organizing constituencies to reaching out to a wide range of influential, legislators and other government officials. At the same time, the skills of public advocacy– listening, finding areas of consensus and building on that consensus, finding ways to make change happen – are skills that can be applied to all professional and life settings.

The advocacy campaign for our class will support the development and launch of JustLeadershipUSA, led by Glenn Martin of the Fortune Society. This will be a new and unique national nonpartisan leadership and advocacy organization with a clear and deliberately ambitious long-term goal: to reduce the number of people in prison by half by the year 2030. The course will begin with intensive training – approximately 14 hours in the first two weeks – so that you can jump directly into launching an advocacy campaign with JustLeadershipUSA. The class will then meet periodically over the semester to check-in and meet with the JustLeadershipUSA team and key leaders and thinkers in the criminal justice reform world as well as with prosecutors, judges and political leaders.  The course will provide an overview of and training in how to affect public policy through advocacy campaigns, legislative lobbying, issue branding, coalition building and community organizing in the United States This is not simulation, but the real thing.

There are no prerequisites – only a passion for social justice.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2010 UPADM-GP.0216.001 Minorities in America: Status, Rights, Culture and Community

The position of minorities in the United States, an immigrant nation since its inception, remains a volatile topic of debate that touches the core of American identity. While we will review the history of minorities in America, we will focus on their status within the cultural and political framework and examine the ways that how we understand rights as either individually or communally derived informs policy decisions and shapes minority institutions. We will seek to define what "minority" status entails by studying how ethnicity, race, gender and religious identity, and cultural expression play out in the political sphere. Attention will then shift to minority community building - how public policies and leaders nurture or undermine minority identity, establish and sustain institutions, and create sustainable minority communities.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2010 PADM-GP.2197.001 Taub Seminar
We enter any subject of investigation filled with learned viewpoints, opinions, and select facts that we choose to employ. This helps to make the task of uncovering what we mean by Jewish and Jewish community fraught with unusual difficulty. Whatever our background, it will be hard to shake preconceived positions. In addition, the Jewish community seeks to nurture purely voluntary association at a time of little support in the popular culture for sustaining communal norms, existing institutions or unenforceable obligations. Our study must also then be understood within the larger American context of voluntary associations.

The Taub seminar will wrestle with such issues as identity, communal organization, core and fringe, and the indices and litmus tests of institutionalized belonging. We will explore how power is defined, how leaders are selected and consensus determined. We will examine the wide range of communal institutions and organizations – philanthropic, educational, social, religious and social service – that place themselves within the orbit of the Jewish community to uncover how they define their missions, establish authority, make decisions, recruit involvement and gain (or lose) loyalty and affiliation. As important, we will test the capacities of these institutions and their leaders to address the many challenges they face in an environment of waning allegiance and obligation.
Download Syllabus
Spring 2010 PADM-GP.2106.001 Community Organizing

Introduction to Community Organizing is for those who could imagine running national or local advocacy organizations that make change happen or anyone who wants to understand the art of community organizing. It will provide an overview of and training in contemporary community organizing practice in the United States. This includes defining what community organizing is and identifying its value base; exploring the strategies, tactics and activities of organizing; and thinking about marketing, language and evaluation. We also will examine the transformations of civic engagement and voluntary associations in the United States and the impact of these transformations on the ways Americans organize and advocate for change.

But there is a larger lesson here: The skills of community organizing – listening, finding areas of consensus and building on that consensus, finding ways to make change happen – are skills that can be applied to all professional and life settings. Through readings, class activities, cases studies, speakers and reflection, students will examine skills and techniques for effective organizing, including building a membership base, developing ordinary people as community leaders and running member-led issue campaigns. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on and strengthen their own skills as community organizers and advocates.


Download Syllabus
Fall 2010 PADM-GP.2106.001 Community Organizing

Introduction to Community Organizing is for those who could imagine running national or local advocacy organizations that make change happen or anyone who wants to understand the art of community organizing. It will provide an overview of and training in contemporary community organizing practice in the United States. This includes defining what community organizing is and identifying its value base; exploring the strategies, tactics and activities of organizing; and thinking about marketing, language and evaluation. We also will examine the transformations of civic engagement and voluntary associations in the United States and the impact of these transformations on the ways Americans organize and advocate for change.

But there is a larger lesson here: The skills of community organizing – listening, finding areas of consensus and building on that consensus, finding ways to make change happen – are skills that can be applied to all professional and life settings. Through readings, class activities, cases studies, speakers and reflection, students will examine skills and techniques for effective organizing, including building a membership base, developing ordinary people as community leaders and running member-led issue campaigns. Students will also have the opportunity to reflect on and strengthen their own skills as community organizers and advocates.


Download Syllabus
Spring 2009 PADM-GP.2197.001 Taub Seminar
We enter any subject of investigation filled with learned viewpoints, opinions, and select facts that we choose to employ. This helps to make the task of uncovering what we mean by Jewish and Jewish community fraught with unusual difficulty. Whatever our background, it will be hard to shake preconceived positions. In addition, the Jewish community seeks to nurture purely voluntary association at a time of little support in the popular culture for sustaining communal norms, existing institutions or unenforceable obligations. Our study must also then be understood within the larger American context of voluntary associations.

The Taub seminar will wrestle with such issues as identity, communal organization, core and fringe, and the indices and litmus tests of institutionalized belonging. We will explore how power is defined, how leaders are selected and consensus determined. We will examine the wide range of communal institutions and organizations – philanthropic, educational, social, religious and social service – that place themselves within the orbit of the Jewish community to uncover how they define their missions, establish authority, make decisions, recruit involvement and gain (or lose) loyalty and affiliation. As important, we will test the capacities of these institutions and their leaders to address the many challenges they face in an environment of waning allegiance and obligation.
Download Syllabus
Date Publication/Paper
2009

David M, Elcott, Catherine Cornille, 2009. Meeting the Other: Judaism, Pluralism and Truth Criteria of Discernment in Interreligious Dialogue
Abstract

"Discernment as the evaluation of one religious community by another is a critical question in contemporary interfaith dialogue theory and practice. How do the members of different religions judge the relative worth of other religious traditions? And how does this judgment connect with the complicated religious lives of modern people? The question of religious discernment has become much more pressing in an age of the globalization of religion along with economic and cultural exchange. What is so refreshing about these essays is that the authors do not shy away from the fact that every religious tradition does have ways of judging the relative merits (and demerits) of the religions of other people . . . As the Kongzi (Confucius) taught so long ago, we need to find harmony but not uniformity. These essays help us on this path

2008

David Elcott 2008. "Testimonies from a Multifaith Hearing on Conversion" Lariano, Italy. ,May 12-16 2006
Abstract

2007

David Elcott 2007. The Limits of Friendship Sh'ma- A journal of Jewish Responsibility
Abstract

Writer discusses that Jews in USA support an Israel that seeks peace, reaches out in compromise, and cherishes the sacredness of human life over the sacredness of land. And as a religious minority,they  rightfully protest those who, in claiming a monopoly on knowing God’s will, tell them how to act or what policies Israel should promote — whether mainline Christian Protestants or Christian Zionists.

David Elcott 2007. "Explorers of New Worlds: Building Community in a post-Modern Age" CLAC/UJC Revised 2007
Abstract

2006

David Elcott 2006. "Is U.S. Support of Israel the Main Obstacle to Peace?" Congressional Quarterly, CQ Researcher  
Abstract

Hussein Ibish, senior fellow, American Task Force on Palestine, and David Elcott, executive director, Israel Policy Forum, have given their views on the US support for Israel. Ibish believes that the American approach to Israel and Palestine is fundamentally flawed, whereas Elcott believes that those who argue pro-Israel lobby has forced American governments to support policies detrimental to the interests or to the forces of peace are wrong.



2005

David Elcott 2005. "Five introspective Challenges" "After the Passion is Gone: American Religious Consequences" by J.Shawn Landres and Michael Berenbaum Walnut Creek, Alta Mira Publications
Abstract

In American Religious Consequences, leading scholars of religion and theology ask what controversy reveals about Christians, Jews, and the possibilities of inter-religious dialogue in the United States.

David Elcott 2005. "Whats Jewish?" AJC, Spanish Version
Abstract

2004

Beth Rosenthal, David Elcott 2004. "Engaging America: A community Building Handbook" AJC
Abstract

2001

David Elcott 2001. "The New World of Civic Engagement" The Jewish Public Forum
Abstract

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