Ecology of Social Movements: CEE Programme

5 to 12 Oct 2024

a space to think critically, to ask challenging and transformative questions, and find deeper inspiration and understanding to empower social change

This is a one-week version of the Ecology of Social Movement training tailored to the context of Central and Eastern Europe. It is for experienced activists and organisers involved in movement level thinking and practice from the region. It is an opportunity to inquire deeply into how our organisations and networks relate to the wider ecology of activism within our movements – and how these movements relate to wider struggles in the ever changing cultural, socio-political and ecological context. Participants will engage in deep analysis of their own movement practice and ecology. They will gain skills and understanding to make their activism and organising more powerful and transformative.

This training is part of the Ulex Central and Eastern Europe Programme pilot year. It is designed and delivered by a training team embedded in CEE social movements.


This training aims to help us understand the opportunities and threats of this crucial moment and to empower our efforts to contest our future. We’ll explore the life cycle of social movements and seek to learn from social movement history. We’ll survey theories of social change, identifying tensions and complementarities. We will increase our skills in strategising, planning and working for change in the complex ecologies and systems of movements and societies. And we will ask how big picture thinking can inspire and empower our work together.

The course blends a participatory inquiry methodology with the Ulex team’s framework for strategic analysis and deeper political reflection. Participants will engage in deep analysis of their own movement practice and ecology. The training will support the development of creative and strategic responses for radical social change.

This course involves deep and critical thinking, so participants should:

  • Have significant history of social movement engagement and experience to bring
  • Be embedded in organisation/s or networks that can benefit from thinking strategically about their place in social movements
  • Be well placed to bring new strategic thinking back to their group or organisation

We will select participants to bring together a range of people from diverse movements and across Europe to share and learn from each other – and we will also draw in presentations and seminar contributions virtually.

We will explore:

  • How different social engagement practices intersect with each other
  • How to increase the collective impact of our work
  • How to build campaigns, organisations and movements geared towards systemic change
  • How to build alliances and transversal strategies and increase our collective impact
  • How to create strategic approaches that are responsive, dynamic and systems intelligent

 Key areas of study and reflection include:

 Theories of Social Change

  • Exploring a wide spectrum of theories of change (influencing elites, points of disruption, exodus and alternatives, cultural change and public attitudes, organising vs mobilising, disrupting hegemony, beyond patriarchy/intersectional approach to power etc)
  • Investigating historical precedents and identifying where different political approaches have been effective or ineffective.

 Movement Seasons and Cycles

  • Reflecting on the ebb and flow of movement life-cycles- recognising phases of preparation, engagement and regrouping
  • Recognising the importance of balance for movement care and self-care

 Movement Ecosystems

  • How do different approaches condition each other?
  • What are the contradictions and tensions?
  • How can different methods and efforts fit & how can they be complementary?

 Planning and Strategising

  • Developing long term strategy
  • Context and stakeholder analysis
  • Creating agile frameworks that adapt and respond to feedback
  • Applying Action-Reflection Methodologies

 We won’t just explore theories. We will also ask what we do with them – personally and collectively. Do we use them or do they determine us? We can become entrenched in our political views. We can hold models of change unconsciously and they can be hard to examine. History suggests that none of our theories of social change encompass the whole story. And yet we can find our strategies and approaches welded tightly to one fixed position or another. Our approach can become entrenched and unresponsive.

This course will help us to think afresh and to gain perspective. We will explore the formation of political identities – exploring how they serve us and how they hinder us. We will ask: How can we learn to strategise in a way that acknowledges the partial and provisional nature of our views and analysis? How can we develop a strategic approach that is responsive and in which on-going learning remains integral? How can we construct political identities that are genuinely empowering? And how can we develop campaigns, organisations and movements with significant impact for systemic change?

This course description will be refined by the training team early in 2024.

Some travel bursaries will be available. There is no charge for the training, so economic difficulties should not prevent you attending!

Suggested Contribution
In the solidarity economy: €450/€900/€1500
(see the details of our approach to Solidarity Economics for details)

The Team

Our Name

Ulex: Latin (argelaga Catalan, gorse English) noun:

1. A thorny-evergreen flowering shrub, with a high capacity for regeneration and resilience. Its seedpods open in contact with fire and it reshoots from charred stumps. A successionary plant that grows well under challenging conditions. It improves soil fertility through nitrogen fixing, preparing the way for renewed biodiversity.

2. A traditional choice for igniting fires. Burns hot and bright.

3. A networked project adding nutrition and fertility to European social movements through training and capacity building. It kindles the realisation of social justice, ecological intelligence, and cognitive vitality.