What is Environmental Activism?

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  • 0:01 What Is Activism?
  • 0:48 Types of Activism
  • 2:16 Environmental Activism
  • 2:50 Environmental Activist Groups
  • 4:45 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Environmental activism is a hot topic these days, but what does it really mean? This lesson takes a close look at what environmental activism is, what it looks like in action and some issues we face today.

What Is Activism?

Sometimes things in our life are acceptable, and you're happy with how policies and society runs. Maybe you're okay with unemployment numbers, or you think you and your views are represented well in the government. That satisfaction means you're not likely to advocate for change.

However, sometimes things aren't going as you'd like. Maybe the gender wage gap makes you angry, or the increase in global warming is getting under your skin. Activism is any action taken to create change that's focused on political, economic, social or environmental issues.

What does activism look like? To find out, let's tag along with Trevor, a student who is often involved in activism.

Types of Activism

All activists have one goal: to change a policy or practice. There are typically three types or ways of participating in activism. There is solution-driven activism, change-focused activism, and revolutionary activism.

Solution-Driven Activism

Activism isn't just about complaining about an issue, it requires action. Solution-driven activism involves finding solutions to an issue and demanding steps be taken to reach the goal. Trevor has gone on strikes, protests and marches. Recently he's participated in equal rights marches and peaceful protests to policing.

Change-Focused Activism

A second type of activism, called change-focused activism, centers on larger issues and attempts to create an alternative to the issue. Sometimes, instead of replacing the current system, another system may be instituted alongside the original. Trevor often educates people on examples of this type of activism, including alternatives to housing, education or food sourcing, such as food co-ops or home schooling.

Revolutionary Activism

Unlike the first two examples, revolutionary activism seeks to change the opposed system. Activists using revolutionary activism aren't looking for little changes or solutions that don't offer sweeping change. Although Trevor hasn't had a hand in any revolutionary activism efforts, he knows the American Revolution or the socialist uprising in Russia in the early 1900s were examples of revolutionary activism.

With recent changes in the environment, we're seeing an upsurge in the realm of environmental activism, and our friend Trevor is at the heart of it. Let's take a closer look.

Environmental Activism

Trevor has noticed the change in the environment, both on small and large scales. He's angry that policies don't seem to be changing, and he wants to see improvements. Trevor is thinking of joining an environmental activism group, which is aimed at helping to protect the Earth. There are many types of environmental activism he can jump into, so Trevor needs to take a closer look at some group types and decide where he wants to put his energy.

Environmental Activist Groups

Trevor is finding that environmental issues can be small, such as garbage and waste collection, or large, such as global warming or climate change. He also found out there's a great deal of variance in the types of groups he can join, from small, local chapters of a few people to large-scale, global efforts. Some groups have a clear intention and some are a general group advocating for environmental change.

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