Technology and Human Rights Advocacy

This highly interactive, network based course, designed for Iranian digital activists, will highlight effective digital activism tactics used by human rights movements. The course will train activists working in grassroots networks on the use of digital tools including Facebook and Twitter, YouTube, online forums, and blogs. It will also look at case studies and examples of technology-based civic organizing, such as the 2011 Egyptian uprising. Finally, the course will equip activists with necessary skills which are needed to develop and implement campaigns of human rights advocacy using these digital tools.

This course is taught by Ivan Marovic, an organizer and social innovator from Belgrade, Serbia. He was a student organizer and one of the leaders of Otpor, the student resistance movement that played a critical role in the downfall of Slobodan Milosevic in 2000. As one of the most public of the organization’s members, speaking often at rallies and marches, Marovic became Otpor's representative in the Democratic Opposition of Serbia coalition, where he took part in planning and preparations for elections and protests that occurred after Milosevic attempted to falsify ballots. After the successful democratic transition in Serbia, Marovic began consulting with various pro-democracy groups worldwide and became one of the leading trainers in the field of strategic nonviolent action. Between 2004 and 2010 Marovic worked at York Zimmerman, Inc. on video games A Force More Powerful and People Power that teach activists how to use nonviolent action in their struggle for social change. In 2011 he was hired by Vibe Network to develop Moba, a web-based platform for local organizing around communal problems. Marovic holds a BSc in process engineering from Belgrade University and an MA in international relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He currently lives in Belgrade with his wife and son.

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Course Outline

Lesson 1 – Introduction

This session will introduce the concept of human rights advocacy and examine how it has changed in the last decade or two, with a greater emphasis on community organizing and public participation in human rights campaigns. We will also explore technological changes which happened in this century and compare high-tech and low-tech tools used in advocacy and organizing.

Lesson 2 – Telling the Story

This session will explore storytelling as means of presenting both abstract concepts related to human rights issues and concrete reports of human rights violations and making them more appealing to wider audiences. We will also look at the phenomenon of citizen journalism, compare it with classic journalism, and explore different ways of telling the story using digital information technology.

Lesson 3 – Photo and Video

This session will examine visuals which can be used in online campaigns with a main focus on photography, but also expanding to filming and basic video editing. We will look into what makes a good photo and video and how can people make decent quality raw footage with basic equipment and limited training. Other visuals, such as cartoons and infographics, will also be covered in this session.

Lesson 4 – Skills for Digital Tools

This session will explore a range of online tools that are often used to reach a target audience and introduce basic skills needed for effective use of these tools, some of which will include blogging and micro-blogging, but also use of social networks and various other online tools. Issues regarding content sharing and online presence will be covered as well, including security considerations.

Lesson 5 – Strategy, Campaigns and Tactics

This session will introduce strategic planning, campaigning and tactical choice as essential components of effective advocacy.  It will offer a strategic framework for analyzing campaigns and movements.  It will also examine different tactics available to organizers and explore issues involved in tactical choice.  During this lesson special emphasis will be put on strategic goals and campaign objectives, against which tactic’s success –failure evaluation should be run.

Lesson 6 – Message Development

This session will explore how people change their minds and behavior as a result of advocacy efforts and help participants understand why campaign messaging is central for its success. The session will introduce tools that can be used to analyze target audience and develop a message. Putting an emphasis on digital information technology, it will also explore ways message can be passed on to the target audience.

Lesson 7 – Managing Organizers

This session will present ways to build and maintain networks which can be used for information dissemination, planning, coordination, and joint action. It will examine reasons why people join causes, how to recruit and manage volunteers, and how to keep volunteers motivated. Additionally, it will look at the digital activist and his role in human rights advocacy effort. Participants will learn how to use networks of organizers to make things go viral.

Lesson 8 – Building a Campaign

In this final session we will build a campaign based on the concepts explained in the course and put in use acquired skills and tools introduced in the course.  In order to build a campaign, participants will first define objective, analyze target audience, develop appropriate message, setting up networks and choose adequate tactics which can be spread online using this network. Campaigns built by participants will be examined, discussed and evaluated.

Lectures

This highly interactive, network based course, designed for...
This session will introduce the concept of human rights...
This session will explore storytelling as means of...
 This session will examine visuals which can be used...
This session will explore a range of online tools that are...
 This session will introduce strategic planning,...
This session will explore how people change their minds and...
 This session will present ways to build and maintain...
 In this final session we will build a campaign based...

Course Lesson Downloads