I’ve just spent a busy few days giving feedback on students’ proposals for their assignments in my activism class at the LSE, which I teach along with Tom Kirk. For this they have to pick a topic that they feel strongly about, and design an influencing strategy to achieve a positive change. They have to work through the course content on understanding systems and power, mapping stakeholders and finding plausible points of entry for their campaigns, before coming up with a convincing set of tactics to achieve their goals. Some of the tools they used are included here, with the students’ permission.
Ishikawa (fishbone) diagram, from ‘Influencing strategy for Juvenile Drug use and Crime in JJ Bawana colony, Delhi’, Ashika Thomas.
The exercise also provides an interesting window into what progressive, relatively privileged (the LSE is not cheap), highly educated 20-somethings from around the world care about these days.
Here are the headlines.
Gender issues are the big one (it’s probably no coincidence that 85% of the class are women). 14 projects tackled topics such as gender-based violence, street harassment, girls’ empowerment in schools, defending feminists’ right to protest, the ‘Pink Tax’, FGM, period poverty, pregnancy outcomes, abortion, even combating sexism among one students’ family members!
Next highest (5 proposals) were issues around refugees and migrants, including reforming the Kafala system in the UAE
The next batch got 3 proposals each:
- Education, including two on access to education for marginalized groups such as Spain’s Roma people, or girls from poor families in Kyrgyzstan
- Various aspects of child rights, including foster care provision in the US, the treatment of former child soldiers in the Central African Republic, and child rape survivors in South Sudan
- Housing and Homelessness
- Reforms at the LSE: ending its fossil fuel investments; introducing a School pregnancy policy and (a personal favourite) changing my course to include a week on the use of violence to achieve change
- Environment: Meat consumption; pollution; low emission urban development
Two each on reducing drug abuse and combating right wing populism in Germany and Sweden
Stakeholder mapping for increasing the Tamil Nadu state budget for urban climate change resilience, by Bala Marimuthu
Then a long tail of one-offs on:
- Tackling HIV stigma
- Release of Niger’s former president
- Food insecurity
- Not charging new mothers to take home their placentas (it happens)
- Ban marketing guns to kids
- Voting methods
- Fast Fashion
- False advertising by budget airlines
- Veteran reintegration
- Treatment of prisoners
- Mental health
- Workers’ rights in the UK hospitality sector
- Digital rights
I’d be interested in your thoughts on this list. The things that struck me (aside from their ability to churn out awesome graphics_ included the sheer range of issues about which young people feel passionate – that bodes very well for the future of activism, I would say. Also the low profile of issues such as climate change (one proposal) or trans rights (none) that figure high on the current civil society agenda, at least in the UK.
The students will now digest our feedback and then write their full proposals for early next year. As in previous years, I’ll make sure to put some of their accompanying blogs up here so you can see where they end up.
Systems map for children associated with armed forces and armed groups in the Central African Republic, by Dahui Jeon