Welcome to Our Activist Community
Activist Graduate School is an online university for experienced activists. We emphasize courses in history, theory and strategy. Our mission is to enable activists to evolve how they approach the challenge of social change. Activist Graduate School is designed to bring activists together from across struggles, theories of change and protest styles in order to make surprising victories possible. Ultimately, the success of Activist Graduate School will be measured by the institution's capacity to birth new social movements, fresh ways of thinking about activism and innovative forms of protest
Activist Graduate School seminars and symposia are pre-recorded and made available to activists worldwide. Our inaugural course will be filmed at Bard College and our inaugural symposium will be filmed at the All Stars Project in New York City.
Our Inaugural Course
How to Change the World: Theories and Practices
Professors: Chiara Ricciardone, PhD and Micah White, PhD
Whether we are campaigning on civil rights, environmental justice, refugee rights, or LGBTQIA and women’s rights, the first prerequisite to success is a theory of social change that guides the methods we employ as activists. The range of potential protest tactics is so plentiful—from direct action in the streets to silent prayerful vigils and self-organized worker cooperatives to electoral ballot initiatives—that every activist, whether consciously or not, relies on a theory of change to decide their actions. If the theory of change underlying our activism is false, then our protests are bound to fail. At the same time, social change is a constant and complex phenomenon, involving factors both within and beyond human control. Often, an unexamined set of assumptions govern—and limit—our attempts to make change. This minicourse intends to refresh and expand our thinking about activism by studying four different theories of change: voluntarism, structuralism, subjectivism, and theurgism. We will track these theories through case studies from the ancient Greek as well as the modern world, considering how each practice of protest, civil disobedience, or resistance understands the interplay between individual and world, natural and supernatural.
This course will be filmed at Bard College (Hannah Arendt Center).
Our Inaugural Symposium
Why Do Protests Fail?
Guest Lecturers: Dr. Lenora Fulani, Alicia Garza, Souta Calling Last and Micah White (moderator)
A stimulating evening of revolutionary discussion with Dr. Lenora Fulani, the first woman to run for President and get on the ballot in all 50 states, Alicia Garza, the co-founder of Black Lives Matter, Souta Calling Last, the founder of Indigenous Vision, and Micah White, co-creator of Occupy Wall Street. Each of these thoughtful activists will respond to this provocative question with reference to any protest, historical or contemporary, small or large.
We will evaluate various theories for why contemporary protests are failing. Is it a lack of demands? Police repression? Absence of leadership? Or something deeper? Our goal will be to develop a general theory of protest failure grounded in the concrete experience of contemporary activism. Guiding our collective inquiry will be the hope that understanding protest failure will better equip today’s activists for creating positive social change in their lifetimes.