Media, Activism, and Social Movements

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  • Session A: July 10 - July 22, 2017
  • Session B: July 24 - August 5, 2017


  • 9:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.


  • Communications
  • Philosophy and Society


  • Rosemary Clark-Parsons

From #YesAllWomen to #BlackLivesMatter, from the People’s Climate March to the Women’s March on Washington, a new generation of activists has taken the world by storm, with global media networks as their megaphones. The goal of this course is to explore, from the perspectives of multiple disciplines and fields of study, how contemporary activists harness a diverse range of media tools and platforms to social change. We will define “media” broadly, and consider not only the relationship between movements and mainstream news media, but also social media, street protests, art, and music. While digital media have altered the face of activism, we will trace important historical continuities between today’s social movements and the movements of the past. Most importantly, we will keep in mind that while new media have brought greater reach to today’s movements, social change ultimately emerges from the resilience and creativity of activist media-makers.

Upon completing this module, students will be able to:

  • Compare different movements’ communication strategies across time and place
  • Assess the possibilities and limitations of different activist media tactics
  • Identify how social conditions, political opportunities, and media resources shape what types of activisms are possible in a particular time and place
  • Consider when and how media-making can be a political act in and of itself
  • Have a foundational understanding of different methods for researching social movements and the ethical concerns they raise.

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