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Top 10 Courses on Taking Action for Activists

Learn how you can take action for human rights and social justice. Explore the tools and tactics of activists. Equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to make a difference for a cause you are passionate about.

If you want to change the world, the first step is to equip yourself with knowledge and skills to make change happen. Online courses are a great way to connect with other activists and changemakers, and to learn from top universities and organizations without paying high tuition fees. All courses in this list are available to audit for free. You can opt-in for a verified certificate for an extra fee.

#1 Taking Action: From Protest to Policy (Wesleyan University)

Take action for policy change.

This course is tailor-made for everyone who wants to become an activist advocating for policy change. In this course you will develop your own action plan for an issue you are passionate about. You will learn strategies to press for policy change and hone your communication skills to mobilize supporters. The course will provide you with valuable insights about power dynamics in policymaking and how to use them to your advantage to generate meaningful change. The course will also equip you with practical technical skills such as creating a stakeholder analysis. If you want to change laws and policies, this course is an excellent fit for you.

#2 Community Awareness: Police Brutality in the U.S. (University of Michigan)

Fight against police brutality.

Police brutality is one of the most pressing human rights issues of our time. Everyone has the right to safety and security, but for many people in the United States and other countries these are just empty words on paper. When governments fail to meet their obligations, activists come in to press for change. In this course you will learn about systemic racism, abuse of power and excessive policing in real life case studies. You will expose laws and policies that prevent police accountability and explore strategies and tools to fight for change. The panel of this course includes experts and changemakers from various sectors including activism, social work, law and government.

#3 Social Norms, Social Change I + II (UNICEF)

Eliminate harmful social norms.

This course is offered by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund and Pennsylvania University. It’s an excellent fit for activists seeking to create change on a community level and beyond. The course will equip you with strategies to create beneficial norms and eliminate harmful ones. The first part of the course will develop your foundational knowledge about social norms and social change, the second part of the course is a guide to put what you have learnt into practice through legal reforms, information campaigns, economic incentives, group deliberations and more. Finally, you will look at a variety of tools policy makers use to effect change and explore the conditions under which they can be successful.

#4 Activism in Sports and Culture (Morehouse College)

Unleash the power of sports for social change.

This course highlights how sports and political change are intertwined on many different levels. Athletes and institutions deal with questions of race, economic hardship, nationalism, and political ties daily. They can become role models for social change and quite the opposite. Some of the most successful global protest movements were inspired by athletes, such as the kneeling protest during the national anthem by Colin Kaepernick. If you are into sports and activism and want to learn more about how they can become a powerful force of change, this course is for you. The course is taught by journalist and former NBA All-star Chris Webber.

#5 From Climate Science to Action (World Bank)

Take action on climate change.

Amnesty International and other human rights organizations have mentioned climate change as one of the most serious human rights challenges of our time. Millions of people are already suffering from the catastrophic impact of extreme weather conditions, disasters, and displacement. Climate change affects our right to life, food, housing, water and sanitation – to name a few. It is time to act, before it is too late for people and the planet. In this course you will learn about the specific climate change vulnerabilities each part of the world is facing. You will learn about opportunities to mitigate the effects of climate change and how communities can become more resilient to its impact. In this course you will also study climate action strategies and connect with thousands of other learners passionate about taking action for our future.

#6 Music and Social Action (Yale University)

Use music as amplifier for social change.

This course is tailor-made for activists who recognize the power of music to create change. If you are looking for inspiring case studies and prefer to explore activism from a more philosophical perspective, this course will be an excellent fit. You will discover how music has created positive change in communities globally, how it inspired resistance, and how it gave a voice to people who felt powerless. You will also discuss the obligations and responsibilities of musicians to engage in social action and how they play a critical role in society – for better or worse.

#7 Designing and Building Institutional Anti-Racist Spaces (Wesleyan University)

End racism. Create safe spaces for everyone. 

Racism is a global issue. To eradicate it, we need institutions that are safe spaces for everyone. If you are an educator, administrator, lawyer or advocate, this course will equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to create spaces that value equity, anti-racism and cultural justice. The course will provide you with practical tools and frameworks that you can adapt to your own institutions. At the end of the journey, you will be equipped to become a multiplier and inspire others to create anti-racist spaces too.

#8 Reimagining Blackness and Architecture (The Museum of Modern Art)

Advocate for a more equitable world through architecture

Race and racism have shaped the architecture that surrounds us every day. Our streets, homes, neighborhoods, and public spaces play a fundamental role in creating a more just and equal world. In this unique course you will explore the work of black architects and artists. You will learn how they reimagined the built environment around us and how they carved their own pathways to create a better future for everyone. Offered by the Museum of Modern Art, this course is a great fit for everyone interested in the intersection between human rights and architecture.

#9 Community Organizing for Social Justice (University of Michigan)

Working together with others to create change.

Community mobilization is a powerful tool for change. In this course you will explore strategies of community mobilization for social justice. The course examines the key concepts of social justice and outlines practical actions to bring people together to set goals and priorities and develop a common vision. You will learn how to leverage community assets, develop action plans, and build support for the implementation. You will study topics such as stereotypes, discrimination and social identity and reflect on how they might affect your own communities.

#10 Revolutionary Ideas: Utility, Justice, Equality, Freedom (Rutgers University)

Get inspired to take action with revolutionary ideas.

In this course you will explore the ideas and concepts activists were fighting for around the world from a philosophical point of view. What is the purpose of government?  Why should we have a State?  What kind of State should we have? These are just some of the questions that will guide you on your journey. If you want to bring about change advocating for equality and justice, this course will provide you with a better understanding of the historic roots of these concepts and strengthen your reasoning why they are worth fighting for.

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Human Rights Careers

Human Rights Careers (HRC) provides information about online courses, jobs, paid internships, masters degrees, scholarships and other opportunities in the human rights sector and related areas.