The stalled engine of neoliberal growth, bankrupted political leadership, deepening inequalities in wealth and power, ongoing racist and patriarchal violence, and the fierce urgency of the ‘ecological now’ delimit the terrain upon which we need to contest our future. Against a backdrop of a rising far right, big data, and the ongoing consolidation of unaccountable power by elite groups, we have a lot to do to contest our future. Now is the time for something new to emerge.
The Movement Learning Catalyst Year-Long+ Programme is a training and action-learning initiative aimed at strengthening the ecology of social movements and enhancing capacity for transversal and transnational organising.
In late 2021, we engaged activists involved with more than 100 organisations across Europe, to ask them about the key challenges their movements and organisations were facing. Most pointed to fragmentation, persistent divisions within and between movements, and a lack of movement capacity for longer-term and coherent strategy.
Responding to these challenges, we have developed a training programme which aims to build capacity for initiatives that are transversal and transnational in nature, able to connect across issues, communities, and socio-political cultures – supporting the building of the kinds of impactful social movement alliances required to achieve the depth of structural transformation we need today.
The programme is more than a training. It is designed as a transversal movement building project – connecting different struggles and communities across issues, strategic approaches, and localities. The course places deep reflective action-learning and the building of solidarity-based relationships at its core. It aims to model and evolve transversal and transnational movement building practices, while strengthening our capacity to embed learning across our different movements’ practices, so we can continue to learn from experience, design creative and testable interventions, and build strategic approaches that can respond to the ever-changing conditions we struggle within.
Through our work in activist education, we have witnessed the value of critical learning spaces for building the kind of relationships needed to underpin more effective transversal movement initiatives. Too often, when people from different organisations, networks, or movements come together, they each bring their often-competing agendas, preferences and often prejudices about each other. The scope for finding new and transformative ways of working across our differences under these conditions can be limited. In contrast, in spaces for learning, supported by effective facilitation, we find that it becomes far easier to develop a higher level of respectful interest, curiosity, and openness – even the sense of shared purpose and solidarity needed for creating the transversal movement connections we need today.
The course will 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 movement ecology. They will have opportunities to explore and develop skills and understanding related to bridge building within and between movements and give attention to the opportunities and challenges of transnational movement building.
A short description of the programme can be found here.
It is aimed at experienced activists and organisers involved in movement thinking and practice from across Europe who:
– Have substantial personal history of social movement engagement and experience to share with each other
– Are embedded in organisations or networks that can benefit from thinking strategically about their place in social movements
– Are well placed to bring new learning and strategic thinking back to their organisations or movements
– Understand what is at stake at this time and care passionately about developing social movement alliances on a scale capable of winning
– Recognise the importance of developing our capabilities to organise transversally, across multiple forms of difference within and between our movements
– Are conscious of the importance of translocal and transnational dimensions of organising today.
We will select participants from the applications to bring together a range of people from diverse movements and contexts across Europe to share and learn from each other. Wherever possible, we encourage participants to take part in pairs or small groups from the same organisation or network, so as to create learning partnerships that can support action learning and implementation.
This hybrid programme has grown out of several flagship trainings: Ulex Project’s Ecology of Social Movements, the Citizen Participation University that the European Community Organising Network contribute to, the National University of Ireland Maynooth’s MA in activism, and European Alternatives’ School of Transnational Activism. We will draw on a wide network of diverse organisers and trainers to bring a wide range of experience and perspectives.
This programme will be designed with the participant cohort and tailored to their context and needs. Recognising that activists and organisers face a wide range of challenges, have different access to resources, and diverse demands on time and energy, we are designing this programme to be adaptable to these different contexts and to support accessibility. We will offer multiple components and resources, which can be tailored to support optimal levels of participation and value for those involved.
The first year of the programme will support a cohort of 40-60 activists from across Europe through a blend of online and in-person training to:
– Bring together experienced trainers and organiser/activists to work on key movement building themes and issues using a well-crafted framework for ongoing action learning, coaching, and peer-to-peer inquiry
– Develop collective capacity for long-term strategic projects that can respond to crisis and change
– Build relationships within the learning space across organisations and movements, seeding new transversal and transnational initiatives
– Embed structured action-reflection learning within their activist practice to enhance long-term movement strategy and collaborative enquiry.
This programme will be designed with participants and tailored to their specific context and needs. It starts from the challenges their movement or organisation is facing related to transversal and/or transnational organising in a specific project or initiative. The learning cohort will be able to select among multiple learning components and resources online and offline to support their learning needs.
On-line Modular Curriculum and Seminars: Online seminars or workshops on different topics with live and pre-recorded elements so that participants can select modules relevant to their needs.
International Residential Trainings: We will offer in-person residential trainings connected to Ulex Project’s Ecology of Social Movements training.
Regional Gatherings: We will offer in-person learning opportunities through short regional gatherings based on the geographical spread of participants.
Peer-to-Peer Learning Circles: We will create circles of 5-6 participants and provide a structured space for ongoing inquiry and reflection into live issues and current practice using a peer coaching method and a forum space.
Visits: We will support participants to visit each other in different settings to get a clearer sense of diverse working contexts and cultures.
Personal Mentoring: We’ll offer one-to-one mentoring where requested, with regular check-ins, either in person regionally or virtually.
We’ll operate the programme in the spirit of a Solidarity Economy and we’re committed to challenging economic marginalisation and exclusion. We want to enter into relationship with you as co-producers and collaborators in the joint project of movement building. There will be no charge for any elements of the programme. We will ask all participants or their sending organisations to consider making a financial contribution towards the running costs of the programme in the range of €500/€1500/€4000. Where activities involve travel and other costs, if participants or organisations can cover these costs themselves, we ask that they do so. However, inability or unwillingness to make a contribution will not preclude anyone from participating. Where participants cannot cover costs, we will engage in fundraising to help create bursaries to cover these costs.
Deadline to apply: November 30th 2022
October to December 2022: Recruiting participants, conducting needs analysis, and refining the programme based on participants’ needs and experience
January to December 2023: 12-month core action learning programme
2024 and beyond: We hope to build on the community created and expand the action-learning and organising network.
To apply or send inquiries, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive links to application forms or info about the programme.
READ MORE ABOUT THE PROJECT HERE.