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Learn about activism and advocacy with online courses and programs

Activism and advocacy can be catalysts for revolution. From petitioning and writing letters to running political campaigns and demonstrations, there are many ways to contribute to social causes. Learn how you can make an impact with courses on edX.

What is activism?

When people want to make a change in society or address a specific cause or injustice, one of the ways they can raise awareness is through activism. Activism is a broad term that encompasses a variety of direct actions, such as public demonstrations, protests, rallies, and boycotts.

Throughout history, people have relied on activism to make their voices heard in shedding light on an issue or group of issues. The Boston Tea Party, March on Washington, and Stonewall Riots are just a few moments that brought attention to systemic inequities that led to significant change. 

Activism allows people to participate in difficult conversations about divisive societal challenges, hold governments and other institutions accountable, and effect legislative and policy change. By learning about different approaches to activism, you can become a more informed citizen and apply your knowledge and make a lasting impact on society.

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Activism and advocacy course curriculum

Whether you want to become a more active citizen in your community or you want to advocate on behalf of others, you can learn about activism with online courses on edX. The best place to start? The fundamentals. Learn about historic examples of activism and the importance of empathy as you hone your communication and research skills.

Aspiring activists and advocates can go a step further and study various approaches and tools, such as:

  • Campaign strategy and planning

  • Advocacy tactics like grassroots organizing

  • Policy analysis and critique

  • Social movements and history

  • Media and messaging that can engage with traditional and digital media

From there, you may choose to go deeper into topics that discuss law and leadership within the context of activism. Finally, you can round out your education with advanced specialized courses that cover policy development, strategic alliances, and theoretical perspectives in the field.

Learning about activism and advocacy can supplement your knowledge of social work and political science. edX offers a variety of educational opportunities for learners interested in studying these topics, as well as a host of other disciplines. A boot camp can provide flexible hands-on learning for those who want to upskill quickly, while executive education courses are designed for busy professionals. You can also pursue a more comprehensive curriculum in a bachelor’s degree program or, for more advanced learners, a master’s degree program. Find the right learning path for you.

Explore jobs in activism and advocacy

If you want to advocate for yourself or your community, or contribute your knowledge to professional activism, there are many roles involved in spreading awareness. Here are some jobs both directly and indirectly related to activism and advocacy:

  • Lobbyist: Works with organizations or directly for causes to influence policymakers and legislators.Footnote 1

  • Campaign manager: Oversees campaigns, develops strategies, manages budgets, and coordinates volunteers to achieve campaign goals.Footnote 2

  • Social worker: Advocates for individuals and communities, working on issues such as healthcare access, housing, and social justice.Footnote 3

  • Journalist: Provides balanced and insightful coverage when reporting on social issues.Footnote 4

  • Marketing manager: Works with nonprofit organizations or socially responsible companies to promote causes and engage consumers in social change efforts.Footnote 5

Each of these roles will have different education and skills requirements. For example, some employers may seek candidates with a degree in journalism or marketing, depending on the role. Before deciding on a specific learning path, research the positions you hope to pursue and align your coursework with your career goals.

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