Youth, activism, and social movements


Download this resource to see full details
This course provides an undergraduate level introduction to the study of youth political socialization and political activism. Young people are the backbone of most social movements from the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements to more contemporary examples like Black Lives Matter, #Occupy, and the anti-gun violence movement. The first half of the course presents an overview of theories of youth political socialization, political participation, and their role in social movements. The course specifically explores concerns about the state of youth political participation and the realities of participation, theories regarding how youth are socialized to participate in politics (and the impediments to participation), the history of youth in social movements (specifically why youth and college campuses are so important). The second half builds on this structure to review areas where youth are bringing new energy to political participation. The syllabus includes discussion in how youth have updated tactics, continue to redefine what counts as political, and incorporate new (intersectionality) and old (economic inequality) concerns into movements. The course is built around a midterm and final exam, as well as a research paper on a youth-oriented social movement that is broken up into several smaller “proposals” throughout the semester. Students are also assessed on their participation in class discussion over the substantive issues. The course serves as a point of connection between courses on youth and society, political sociology, political communication, and social movements.


Resource Type(s):
Jennifer Earl
Thomas V Maher
Thomas Elliott 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Collective Behavior/Social Movements 
Class Level:
College 300 
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

Download this resource to see full details
This resource is for a semester-long undergraduate elective on youth and activism. It may be cross-listed with a youth studies program, communication, or political science. The approach to the course starts with an overview of the field and concludes with areas of activity where youth are pushing the boundaries of...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

Download this resource to see full details
Goal 1:
Students demonstrate knowledge of research on youth political engagement as well as more contemporary research on how current youth engagement is changing and expanding what it means to politically engage.
Assessment 1:
Students’ knowledge of research on youth engagement will be assessed through two essay exams, and weekly instructor-led class discussions that ask students to apply the readings to current events.
Goal 2:
Students will also develop data collection and analysis skills will researching a youth-oriented social movement.
Assessment 2:
Student’s ability to collect and analyze data will be assessed through a research project that is broken up into multiple sections in order to facilitate feedback and assess the student’s progress throughout the semester.

Files for Download:

Right-click and choose "Save As..." to save file.
Earl Maher Elliott- Youth Activism Syllabus, TRAILS.doc