ENVIRON 203 - Activism
Section: 001
Term: WN 2014
Subject: Program in the Environment (ENVIRON)
Department: LSA Environment
Requirements & Distribution:
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

This class offers a broad introduction to the interdisciplinary study of activism, which is grounded in Sociology, Political Science, and History. The readings assigned in the course include works by some of the most important thinkers on activism, including writings both by scholars and practitioners. Specific sets of readings introduce key topics, including the role of non-violence, dissent, political institutions, ideology, and media, as well as critical historical case studies on topics such as the Civil Rights Movement, Tiananmen Square, and Anti-War movements. The concept of activism itself is an important area of study for the social science disciplines. It also represents a topic where a broad, social science class will be of great general interest and educational value to students who may not concentrate in Organizational Studies or one of the relevant disciplines.

This course is about the practice of democracy. It examines the notion that when ordinary citizens work together for a common purpose, they have the potential to bring about intentional changes in their social, political, and environmental reality. Of course, not all citizens get involved in trying to change the world. Sometimes citizens are successful in achieving change and other times they are not. Sometimes change occurs only after decades or centuries of organized struggle. Hence, this class addresses questions, such as: Why do some citizens engage in activism, while others do not? Which tactics tend to be most effective and under what conditions are they effective? Why have some movements succeeded, while others have failed? How can an individual citizen engage effectively in activism? Learning about activism requires reflection on the struggles of movements past, as well as hands-on engagement with the struggles of today. Activism cannot be understood only by reading books. At the same time, it cannot be understood without reading books. Hence, this class combines a review of writings by scholars and practitioners of social movements, while at the same time requiring students to plan and engage directly in activism themselves. Neither this course, nor its instructional staff, embraces or rejects any ideology, movement, or political project. The working assumption of the course is that the same organizational processes and techniques are useful for a wide range of causes, issues, and ideologies. The goal of the course is to help empower students as citizens so that they might effect change in the world over the course of their lives.

Course Requirements:

This course requires students to attend class, complete three individual assignments (two essays and a proposal evaluation), participate cooperatively in a team project, and take Midterm and Final exams. Moreover, students are required to show respect for fellow students throughout the course, which is especially important in this course given the potentially incendiary nature of the issues discussed. Exams must be taken in class without the aid of notes, electronic devices, or other people. Cooperativeness on team projects will be evaluated on the basis of peer evaluation. Respect for fellow students will be based on the professor’s observation of student participation in class. Each of these elements will be weighted as follows in determining final grades:

  • Assignment #1 – 10%;
  • Assignment #2 – 5%;
  • Assignment #3 – 15%;
  • Midterm Exam – 25%;
  • Final Exam – 25%;
  • Cooperativeness on Team Project – 15%;
  • Respect for Fellow Students – 5%

Intended Audience:

Lower division students

Class Format:

3 hour lecture.

ENVIRON 203 - Activism
Schedule Listing
001 (LEC)
13Enrollment Management
MW 4:00PM - 5:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 9780984275212
Organizing for social change : Midwest Academy manual for activists, Author: Kim Bobo, Jackie Kendall, Steve Max., Publisher: Forum Press 4th ed. 2010
ISBN: 9781935928577
Beautiful trouble : a toolbox for revolution, Author: assembled by Andrew Boyd ; with Dave Oswald Mitchell., Publisher: OR Books
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