Here’s the Manual and Reading List for my LSE Course on advocacy, campaigning and grassroots activism. Please critique/improve/steal.

Sincerest form of flattery and all that. Inspired by Alice Evans’ bookification of her course reading list, Tom Kirk and I have turned the reading list for our LSE course on advocacy, campaigning and grassroots activism into a course manual, adding more background, a summary of each week’s content and seminar questions, among other things.

Here it is – all 44 pages. Feel free to nick, criticize (if you have to), improve etc.

Coming to academia from outside, I’m struck by the weight attached to reading lists. I wonder where that importance comes from, especially given my strong suspicions that a lot of the entries don’t get read by a lot of the students! They seem to act as a bit of a legacy product – students can take them away and refer to them after they’ve left. Any other theories?

Just one more page….

Updating the course list has also been heavily influenced by another exercise I’m involved with – we’re just completing a diversity analysis of the International Development department’s 30+ course reading lists. This involved a monster data crunch (don’t worry, I didn’t do it) of hundreds of authors on basis of gender and country of origin/ethnicity, and some fascinating debates on how you describe them – is white/non-white an acceptable binary? If not, then what? I’ll report back with the headlines when we’re ready to go public on that one.

If you’re looking for more of a manual than a reading list, head over to Oxfam’s shiny new guide to influencing, which we also use as part of the course. Got a podcast in the works with Richard English, its lead author.

And for a taster of what the students came up with this year, check out these blogs by Mirna Medina-Silva, Lucy Shearer and Lachlan Hill, and vlogs by Niharika Agarwal, Michael Spencer and Firman Lung. Here’s Niharika’s again….

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7 Responses to “Here’s the Manual and Reading List for my LSE Course on advocacy, campaigning and grassroots activism. Please critique/improve/steal.”
  1. Duncan Pruett

    Hi Duncan, what a great course! I don’t think they offered these when I was studying political science in the 90s. I haven’t read much of your reading list (apart from your book of course :-)). Having been involved in this field on and off for about 20 years now, I would say that the evolution of the digital dimension has been immense, so week 8 looks important. But it is such a fast moving field. I would add a couple of documentaries which really look into recent explorations of the way the same influencing techniques used by movements around human rights, climate change, anti-racism, women’s rights etc are now being employed by governments, political parties, and others some might see as less progressive, but who have far deeper pockets. The following come to mind: The Great Hack (which looks at the Cambridge Analytica scandal) and The Social Dilemma (recently released on Netflix, which is excellent on how social media is impact peoples attitudes and beliefs). Both also touch on how these tools have been used all over the world, including in Myanmar (where I have been working). Another one which I found fascinating, as well as disturbing, was “Brexit: The Uncivil War” (starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Dominic Cummings – it was a fascinating study in campaigning, not only online campaigning, regardless of where you stand on the issues). Also, while I can see it is included in the Oxfam materials, I think it is really important to look at risk – it can be underestimated, but it need not only be seen as a negative factor – and also issues of solidarity within civil society (I assume efforts of those campaigned against to divide movements are well documented). Both of these are in my mind quite closely related to the section on civic space. Hope these thoughts are helpful! Duncan

  2. Tom Kirk

    Thanks Duncan – Yes, we do really need to talk about the ‘dark’ side of influencing through social media, and we touch upon it a bit. However, due to the hidden nature of how its used, aside from Cheeseman’s work on election rigging I’ve struggled to find good research on it.

  3. Larry Garber

    Thanks for sharing and lots of great suggestions for reading and inclusion in future syllabi. However, I must confess that I am now totally embarrassed by the reading list that I use for my Civil Society and International Development course.

  4. This has remarkable materials, challenges, ideas. I will “nick” from it shamelessly.
    Bit of a broken record but the entire world of activism with religious links seems to be bypassed (I did find one mention of Jubilee but it’s about Bono). There are good and bad elements, and stories like INEB (Buddhists), the “unholy alliance” on reproductive rights, Laudato Si’ are among many examples of cases worth a look.

  5. Jonathan Glennie

    Hmm, quick flick through and the reading list *seems* very northern – always a bit risky judging just on names. Do you have a breakdown of where your academic references are from by geography, and also male/female?

    • Duncan Green

      That’s exactly the exercise we’re embarked upon Jonnie – will blog about it once it’s done. But yes, the reading list is pretty northern, and probably too male, and we’re working on it!

  6. Amanda Lawrence

    In terms of dark side, not only of social media but of the research publishing system check out Merchants of doubt by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, 2010 which goes into great detail on vested interest influence campaigns such as big tobacco etc. There is also a documentary that is really great.