See Matt’s Video on Teaching Channel: Encouraging Students to Take Action
Identifying and analyzing what makes for effective civic action is pretty murky business. One reason it’s so challenging to evaluate the effectiveness of a particular movement, group, or action step is because definitions of effectiveness vary so much.
There are a number of ways to define an effective action or group. You might choose to focus on the outcome, such as how many people were impacted, the extent to which a demand was met, or the amount of concrete change that’s accomplished. Others might choose to focus more on the process of making change, such as the degree of solidarity and community formed by a group, the style of leadership or core values that are developed, or the extent of internal change or consciousness raising that’s created. The reality is that none of these criteria are wrong — it just depends on your perspective.
For these reasons, instead of giving my students the criteria I think they should use to evaluate past efforts for social change, and then use to plan their own action steps, I allow them to develop and hash out for themselves what they think makes for an effective social justice movement.