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What is Activist Graduate School?

Activist Graduate School is an online school for activists. Our courses are taught by activists, for activists.

We offer an academically rigorous curriculum grounded in history, theory and strategy. Our pedagogical approach encourages activists to become critical activists by expanding their repertoire of collective action and evolving how they approach the challenge of social change.

What is the mission of Activist Graduate School?

The pressing social issue that we endeavor to solve is the declining effectiveness of contemporary activism.

Our goal is to create a safe educational environment for the practical, urgent and important task of addressing the deep theoretical and strategic challenges facing social movement creators. The most profound outcome of the Activist Graduate School will be the birth of new social movements, fresh ways of thinking about activism and innovative forms of protest.

How are courses taught?

Our school’s educational model is to teach, and film, in-person activist courses at academic institutions. We then edit this course footage into a condensed version and supplement it with a guest lecture by one or more distinguished activists on a provocative topic—such as, “Why Do Protests Fail?”. Together, this becomes the content for the online course.

Thus far, our partner institutions include Bard College and UCLA.

Online students read the course materials, watch the videos, and complete the same assignments as the in-person seminar.

The online courses are ungraded. There is a teaching assistant who gives feedback and moderates the online discussion. Our model is designed to scale and reach far more students than would otherwise be possible.

What kind of students are a good fit for Activist Graduate School?

We cater to self-motivated learners. Students at our school learn when and where they want to. And, because our courses are ungraded, students learn how they want to. Those who want feedback on their ideas can complete the assignments and participate in the discussion forum. Those who just want to study the content but don’t have time for coursework are also free to do so. Similarly, our courses have no prerequisites and may be taken in any order. Some may wish to only take courses relevant to their particular struggle. Others may take a wider range of classes.

What is your pedagogical approach? Do you teach specific skills?

Activist Graduate School is modeled on the liberal arts tradition of teaching how to think, not what to think. We do not profess to teach how activists should protest nor what campaigns they ought to tackle. We do not provide skill-based education. Instead we emphasize history, strategy and theory. We foster a freethinking atmosphere where activists engaged in many different struggles are encouraged to learn from, and teach, each other.

For example, in our inaugural course on “How to Change The World: Theories and Practices” students begin by choosing an issue that they want to change in the world. In each subsequent session, students develop a campaign plan while simultaneously being taught different theories of how activists can achieve social change. Students are encouraged to be themselves. We don’t evaluate, grade or judge the campaign they create; we simply encourage them to think about it from multiple perspectives.

The result is that students apply the course material to their own concerns. They develop themselves by expanding how they think about activism

Is this a degree-granting program?

No. Activist Graduate School is an unaccredited online school. We do not currently award degrees. (This may change in the future.) Instead, we partner with established accredited universities to teach in-person courses. These courses are then filmed, edited and made available to our online students. Although our courses are academically rigorous, you will not receive academic credits from taking our online courses.

What is the enrollment process?

Enrollment is straightforward. No applications or letters of reference are necessary. Simply sign up and you'll receive the course readings along with instructions on how to access the course videos.

If you are applying for financial aid, then you're required to fill out a more detailed application.

What fees and other costs are required?

The tuition for each course is $150. There are no other costs. You will have permanent access to the course readings and two months access to the course videos.

I am currently enrolled in Ph.D. classes. Would this constitute dual enrollment?

We encourage you to take courses at Activist Graduate School while currently enrolled in a university. This does not constitute dual enrollment as we are not a degree granting institution.

I'm currently enrolled in college as a freshman. Is Activist Graduate School for graduate students only?

Anyone, at any age and educational level may take our courses. We call ourselves a "graduate school" because our courses are intended for experienced activists. Some experienced activists are 19 years old, others may be 47. As long as you are prepared to do the course readings, watch the seminar videos and think deeply about the questions raised in the course then we welcome you as a student.

Also, just so you know, our first course was filmed with undergraduates at Bard College and our second course will be filmed with graduate students at UCLA.

How are you funded?

Activist Graduate School has received the Roddenberry Fellowship, Voqal Fellowship and National Endowment for the Humanities/Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Visiting Fellow at Bard College.

Aside from these grants, we are funded through the tuition of our students.

I have another question.

Great! Fill out this contact form or email Felicia Diaz at info@activistgraduateschool.com and she will answer all of your questions.