Updated: Nov 17
The wave of activism is strong among extreme forces. That's a reason to become an activist yourself. Become the one who puts things in perspective and reason. A wave of activism is washing over the world. With all that is going on, the climate crisis, the social divides, the growing inequalities, it is impossible to just sit and watch. We feel a need to do something. To take action.
Within the academic world, activism is becoming the new black, especially on the other side of the Atlantic. Public outreach has always been the third task, after research and education, but in recent years it has changed character. From communication to action. From starting companies to starting movements.
One example is the social psychologist Jonathan Haidt, who, in addition to his work at the NYU Stern School of Business, has founded a number of non-profit organizations. Or Otto Scharmer, who has trained 180,000 people, for free, in addition to his students at MIT Sloan School of Management. His innovation model, U.lab, even has “movement building” as an end product.
But the wave of activism is not limited to academia. There is also a lot of activism in other professional fields. Lawyers, journalists, doctors, architects, and psychologists are some examples, and there are certainly more.
Take psychologists. In Sweden many are focused on clinical work, but in the United States more and more psychologists, especially after the last two elections, seem to be advocating some kind of "civic therapy" in order to heal the country.
An example is the organization "Braver Angels" which - with the help of psychological methods - tries to depolarize America. Leadership is divided between Republicans and Democrats and the purpose is to try to understand - and not change - each other.
That many of the initiatives are American is understandable. The polarization is so noticeable there. Take the infected election campaign, violence and demonstrations in connection with Black Lives Matter as well as open revolts against Covid-restrictions.
Far-right Proud Boys as well as far-left Antifa are also a kind of activists. They use direct action to achieve political and social purposes, which is the very definition of activism.
Perhaps the wave of activism is even stronger among extreme forces. Which is another reason to become an activist yourself. An activist trying to bring balance and nuance to the world. Will you join? A version of the article was published in Dagens Industri.