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This page is meant to provide people new to the Social Forum process with some relatively short background material that can help provide some of the key pieces of the forum's history and an orientation to the major political debates in the forum. It also provides those working in the forum with documents that can be helpful to ongoing discussions.

The Road to a Third US Social Forum

  • The 2nd US Social Forum in Detroit generated a National Social Movement Agenda that helped synthesize discussions at the 2nd USSF, identify concrete actions following the USSF, and that should guide the USSF work going forward. In particular, the preamble states:
“Each one of us must dig deeper to understand each other's culture and history and to build respectful relationships across difference...We can realize our dreams to treat each other as equals and to build alliances and relationships across our commonalities and difference.”
This statement is important as we work to build a more cohesive movement with real power to affect large-scale social transformation. We believe this is particularly urgent task for us at this moment of political, economic, and ecological crisis.

  • The US Social Forum National Planning Committee and other leaders of grassroots organizations and networks met in Philadelphia to discuss the road to the next US Social Forum. Participants in the meeting made the following recommendations to the USSF National Planning Committee:
Recognizing that we are moving towards building a national convergence of a US Social Forum of a new type, and that this might take the form of a large-scale convergence in a single city or a decentralized forum held simultaneously in multiple cities, these consensus recommendations will be brought to the NPC for a formal decision.
• PMAs or other local assemblies will be used to build towards and follow-up national USSF convergence.
• We will organize some sort of national USSF event/activity/convergence in 2014.
• Date of a national USSF convergence will be no later than 2015

To help build towards the next US Social Forum, we invite those in solidarity with the World Social Forum to join this work. Click here to see how you can get involved.

Background on the US and World Social Forums--History and Evolution of Thinking about Transformative Global Movement Building

  • US Social Forum Updates: The regular e-newsletter of the US Social Forum provides useful background and analyses of the political unity, debates, and strategic thinking about the US and World Social Forum process. In addition, readers can learn how different groups have engaged with the USSF process and developed projects that follow from social forum convergences.
  • Guerrero, Michael Leon. 2012. "US Social Forum: What did we accomplish?" Pp. 364-387 in World Social Forum: Critical Explorations, vol. 3, edited by J. Sen and P. Waterman. New Delhi: Open World Publishers.
This article provides an excellent overview of the history of the U.S. Social Forum process, written by Michael Leon Guerrero, who played an instrumental role in leading the first two USSFs. His article reports on the lessons from the first USSF in Atlanta and the challenges we continue to face following the 2nd USSF in Detroit. The achievements and lessons of the forums, political conditions in the United States, and relationships with international allies are summarized and analyzed.

This article is written by a member of the local organizing committee of the 2004 World Social Forum in Mumbai, India. It assesses some of the achievements and challenges of the World Social Forums, and what will be most interesting for U.S. readers is the particular importance Sen attributes to the USSF process. The USSF has, according to Sen, “turned the rules of the WSF upside down” to overcome a pattern whereby historically disadvantaged groups have remained marginalized in the WSF process.

  • World Social Forum Cartography of the Future Thematic Discussion:--This report emerges from ongoing conversations in the WSF that seek to build upon the lessons from the WSF and other social movement convergences over the past decade. It considers the current political moment of crisis and how the WSF process can contribute to building the planetary citizenship needed for transforming the global economic and political order. As the document states, "We are in a planetary dispute for hegemony and our initiative has to be the contribution to create irreversible citizenship movements, with projects and ideas endowed with a mobilizing strength."
Democratic Innovation in the U.S. and European Social Forums, a more detailed analysis that is basis of above summary, from Handbook of World Social Forum Activism.

Key Documents of the USSF process

Ideas for Discussion

Supporting convergence around shared goals