This course is open for all students that are enrolled in the Minor Ecology, Migration and Tolerance: Limits to Cooperation.
This course provides students with a theoretical framework and empirical background on how people act collectively to promote or to resist political, social and environmental change. It offers a bottom-up approach to global challenges and how these challenges are experienced and addressed by common people. Social movements have become one of the major avenues of political expression in contemporary societies. Thus, studying social movements is crucial for deepening our understanding of the interaction between global institutions, state governments and individuals on the one hand, and the relationship between the society and the larger natural environment on the other.
Throughout this course, students will acquire knowledge of the field of social movements studies by examining why people join social movements, how social movements develop and how effective they are in achieving particular goals in national and global politics. The students will be familiarized with the theories about social movements, the interaction of social movements with political actors, and how our understanding of social movements has changed over time. Moreover, we will acknowledge the vast impact of social media and the digital age on association and communication within social movements and between them and different actors.
Drawing on the broader set of sustainable development goals of the United Nations, the course particularly examines new social movements, revolving around political freedoms, civil and minority rights, and equality. Some prominent examples of movements we discuss are Black Lives Matter, Occupy, the Arab Spring, pro-democracy protests in Eastern Europe, and MeToo#. A special emphasis in this course is given to environmental social movements, like People’s Climate March and Fridays for Future. Finally, counter-movements against globalizing social forces will also be taken into account, such as anti-environmentalism, climate change skepticism, mobilization of the radical right (for instance, anti-immigration protests of PEGIDA). The course will end with a critical reflection on different factors in play, why protests emerge, how they travel across national borders, and how they (may) bring about political, social and environmental change.
Students who successfully complete this course will be able to:
define social movements and explain theories for their emergence and success;
apply the theories to some prominent examples of contemporary social movements and assess whether the theories are applicable and supported;
differentiate between old and new social movements, identify the goals of the movements and explain the intersectional nature of the movements;
critically assess the methodologies used to study social movements and when particular methods are and are not appropriate;
explain the role of social movements in a modern society, their interaction with other political actors and the role of social media, and evaluate the implications of their impact.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
- Eight lectures and four seminars.
Assessment and Weighing
The grades for both parts of the assessment – Exam and Book Review – should be higher than 5.5 to pass the course. If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), there is a possibility of retaking the exam or/and a reworked version of the book review (depending on which part failed). The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the book review and feedback. In case of resubmission of the book review, the final grade for the book review will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Retaking a passing grade
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2022 – 2023.
Exam review and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.
To be announced. Readings will be accessible via the Library Catalogue and/or Brightspace.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies
All other information.