From #BlackLivesMatter to #MeToo, from the Women’s March on Washington to the March for Our Lives, a new generation of activists has taken the world by storm, with global media networks as their megaphones. The goal of this module 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 for 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, DIY print media projects, and more. While digital media have altered the shape and reach 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 emerging media technologies have created new opportunities for today’s movements, these platforms have also created new risks and challenges for activists. Ultimately, through independent readings and in-class activities, we will explore how social change 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