Research & Activism: A guide

Approaches, channels and platforms

For many years, scholars and activists have found innovative ways to work together. Now, as digital technology becomes widespread around the globe, an increasing number of online spaces are used by scholars, activists and others to communicate. Social media, blogging and the participatory digital tools used in open science are transforming people’s ability to access and create knowledge together.

These digital spaces, however, have not replaced face to face communication. Public spaces including dialogues, workshops or teach-ins remain important in allowing research and social movements to inform each other.

This section outlines some of these platforms and reflects on the changing ways they are used.

The resources in this section were compiled by Kennedy Liti Mbeva, a participant in the 2016 STEPS Centre Summer School.

Read Kennedy’s report

This report builds on the discussion at the Summer School and offers reflections and ideas on the subject.

Scholar activism: approaches, channels and platforms (PDF)


A list of links to networks and further reading.

Top 10 Open Source Tools for eActivism
A list of tools, hosted the Designing for Civil Society website.

Scholar-Activist Project Awards
A series of annual awards run by the Antipode Foundation.

Social media

Shirky, C. (2011) The Political Power of Social Media. Technology, the Public Sphere, and Political Change, Foreign Affairs (Open Access)

Carroll and Hackett (2006) Democratic media activism through the lens of social movement theory. Media, Culture and Society 21(8)

Cox, L. (2015) Scholarship and Activism. A Social Movements Perspective, Studies in Social Justice. 9(1) (Open Access)

Daniels, J. & Feagin, J. (2011) The (Coming) Social Media Revolution in the Academy. Fast Capitalism 8(2) (Open Access)

Blog articles

Barlow, A. (2015). Scholar Activism as Practice, Academe blog

Grollman, E. (2014). Toward A self-Defined Activist-Academic Career in Sociology, Conditionally Accepted

 Kweder, M. (2014). Why I’m not waiting for tenure to change the world, Conditionally Accepted

Peters, R. (2015). Are Scholar-Activists Welcome in the Academy? Feminist Studies in Religion blog

Open Science

McKiernan, E. (2013) Activism or Science? A Debate on Open Access (E. McKiernan’s blog)

Dosemagen, S. (2015) Open Science and the environmental movement, Open Thoughts blog

Digital Activist's Suicide Casts Spotlight on Growth of Open-Access Movement, Wendy M. Grossman, Scientific American, 23 January 2013

Simmons, M. (2016). From Politics of Science to Evidence-Based Activism,

Festival shows the promise and perils of open data, Kat Austen, New Scientist, 25 July 2014

Public Dialogues

Review of Research Councils UK Public Dialogues – Sciencewise

Rowe, G. & Frewer, L. (2004) Evaluating Public Participation Exercises: A Research Agenda. Science, Technology, & Human Values, 29(4): 512-556

Nature (2006) Overview: Nature’s peer review trial

Bonney, R., Ballard, H., Jordan, R., McCallie, E., Phillips, T., Shirk, J., and Wilderman, C. C. (2009) Public Participation in Scientific Research: Defining the Field and Assessing Its Potential for Informal Science Education. A CAISE Inquiry Group Report. Washington, D.C.: Center for Advancement of Informal Science Education (CAISE)


The Sunflower Movement and the Emergence of a “New Mass” in Taiwan. By Wakabayashi Masahiro,, 31 July 2014  

Ho, M. (2015) The Sunflower Movement and Taiwan’s Embattled Sociology. Global Dialogue newsletter, 5(4), November 2015  

Horton, D. (2009). Social Movements and the Bicycle, Thinking About Cycling blog  

Manski, B. (2015). 50 years: The roots of the next major teach-in wave. The Next System Project

Schugurensky, D. (2007) First "teach-in" held at University of Michigan: New tool for public education is born, History of Education: Selected Moments of the 20th Century (ASU website)

YouTube Science Shows

17 science shows on YouTube that will totally blow your mind, by Cynthia McKelvey, The Daily Dot, August 2015

New Journal Formats

The Green European Journal
“A space for discussion within the European Green movement.”

Interface: A journal for and about social movements

Key organisations / networks

International Network of Scholar Activists

Resistance Studies Network

National Film Network: The Making of a Scholar/Activist

Progressive Radio Network (‘Scholar activist’ tag).

Scholars Strategy Network

National Association of Scholars