IGA-380M: Human Rights Advocacy Using Video, Social Media, and Participatory Media

Semester: January

Credit: 2.0

Syllabus: Click here for syllabus

Faculty: Sam Gregory


Day Time Location
Term Start Date 1/3
Meet Day M/T/W/Th/F 1:30 PM - 5:30 PM Belfer 500 (HKS)


Aided by the spread in low-cost, high-quality technologies, video and moving image media are becoming increasingly ubiquitous and multi-form (even though a considerable digital divide exists in terms of access, literacy, and skills both within and between societies across the globe); video will soon be part of every communications and advocacy strategy. Increasing moving image creation, usage and literacy defines much of the experience of a connected younger generation, particularly in the Global North and within certain sectors of Global South society. Use of video, including particularly mobile video, has publicized and documented many emerging human rights struggles from Yangon, to Oakland, to Tehran, and most recently the 'Arab Spring', 'Occupy' and "Black Lives Matter" movements, and characterizes many vibrant citizen media spaces that fill niches long ignored or abandoned by the mainstream media. However, strategic, directed, impact-driven use of video remains under-utilized as an intervention by either NGOs or citizen networks in human rights spaces including treaty monitoring systems, legislative debates, lobbying of decision makers, and community organizing. Many human rights actors do not yet have the skills, connections, or experience to organize, aggregate, or coordinate others' audiovisual media including citizen media content in spaces like YouTube, create their own targeted advocacy media for specific audiences, collaborate to develop compelling material with professional or citizen storytellers, or to link their strategic use of video to new participatory technologies that enhance creation, distribution, and debate, such as mobile, social media, data visualization, mapping, and Web 2.0 tools. A range of new storytelling formats such as virtual reality and immersive live video provide new opportunities for engagement. Policy advocates encounter new challenges as they consider how citizen media and technology usage for activism is enabled or curtailed by government policy and adhoc decisions and the actions of private sector actors such as mobile and online service providers. This course, taught by a leading practitioner of using video, social media, and participatory technologies for human rights advocacy, will combine a focus on practical advocacy skills for using video, as well as social media (particularly as it relates to video) and other networked/participatory media with analytical discussion, expert guest speakers, exercises, and review of topline emerging trends and overarching policy questions.

Course meets in Bell Hall.

None required (recommended readings provided in syllabus).

John F. Kennedy School of Government 79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
617-495-1100 Get Directions Visit Contact Page