course

Environmental advocacy at Griffith University

Environmental advocacy describes social action that occurs when communities are compelled by a tension between desired and actual environmental management. Effective advocacy bridges the gap between community values and institutional environmental management.

Environmental Advocacy was a one-semester postgraduate elective offered through the School of Australian Environmental Studies, Griffith University, Australia. It was available to students enrolled in the Faculty of Environmental Science postgraduate programs and as an elective course. The course attracted ten credit points toward relevant degrees and involves ten hours of class and independent study each week.

Wild Mountains 2003

Wild Mountains 2003

  • Students learnt about the strategies, tactics and traditions of environmental advocacy through a combination of traditional academic research and experiential learning. An integral element of the course was a 50 hour placement with community sector advocacy organisations.
  • The course did not focus on the technical dimension of environmental problems but, rather, on advocacy strategies to resolve them.
  • The course was developed in close liaison with key Australian environmental advocacy organisations and provides opportunities for close collaboration between the academic and community sectors.
Wild Mountains 2005

Wild Mountains 2005

The course was removed from the curriculum in 2006. Comparable courses are available at progressive universities including:

‘Activism and Social Change’ Masters Program @ University of Leeds
‘Public Advocacy and Action’ Diploma and Maters program @ Victoria University
RMIT University Community Advocacy Unit

Environmental advocacy course curriculum

This course was developed by James Whelan in 2003. Please use these resources with appropriate acknowledgement.

What students said about the course

“The course has really empowered me. I was passionate about it all, knew how to throw my body around in a direct action setting, but the steady approach of strategy and planning eluded me. I feel like the course gave me a game card… how to play the game, so my energy doesn’t get dissipated by less useful things, and I dont have to fret so much about if something doesn’t seem to work. It doesn’t have to work, right now that is, it may work, or be part of something that works later! so you’ve give me a whole new lease of activism life… I’ll always love direct action, but it’s so good to have a few ways to go.”

“The course is practical. It relies on real life stories to connect with theories of change and ideas about campaigning. It encourages analysis which is sadly lacking in the movement and provides politics in a university which frequently forgets its political role.”

“The strengths definitely lie in the experiential learning component of the course (internship). I also found the facilitated discussion/engage approach to lectures more beneficial for my style of learning than ‘lectures’. The focus on evaluation and reflection was particularly valuable.”

“For me, the greatest strength was that the coursework strongly informed my activism. Another great strength was the people involved – they were great!”

“It’s been an excellent opportunity to reflect on what I’ve done and the approaches I’ve taken over the past five years.”

“The weekend retreat at Wild Mountains was a tremendous opportunity to get to know the other students and really develop a learning circle – in a way that classes would never have established.”

“The sessions we worked through… personal theories of change, the role plays … were fantastic, really got me thinking about the different aspects of campaigning.”

“This course encourages analysis which is often lacking in the movement and provides politics in a university which frequently forgets its political role.”

“The strengths definitely lie in the experiential learning component of the course (internship) and also having the opportunity to mix with the campaigners in the course who were auditors.”

“I found the facilitated discussion/engage approach to lectures more beneficial for my style of learning than ‘lectures’. The focus on evaluation and reflection was particularly valuable.”

“Being involved in a campaign was incredibly useful to truly experience some of the setbacks, and wins of campaigning.”

“The diversity of topics and the freedom of learning within the weekly workshops were excellent.”

“The diversity of people within the course particularly those overseas made it really interesting.”

“I realise every time I talk to someone how influential what I’ve learned in environmental advocacy has been. The tools we learnt about are useful on a personal level as well as an organisational one (especially strategic questioning & MAP) and now that I’ve started using strategic questioning in addition to the usual issue-based interview questions, I get much more interesting answers!”

Wild Mountains 2006

Wild Mountains 2006

What are people saying about us?

alycia

Alycia Gawthorne, GetUp! organiser

The Fellowship has challenged the way I previously thought about campaigning and community organising, and made me rethink how I approach my work. It’s afforded me the space to take a step back and look at the entire movement. I feel like the skills I take away from the Fellowship will be invaluable, but far more important will be the deeper understanding I have about my role and how it fits within a larger movement.
2015-03-17T19:33:28+00:00
alycia
The Fellowship has challenged the way I previously thought about campaigning and community organising, and made me rethink how I approach my work. It’s afforded me the space to take a step back and look at the entire movement. I feel like the skills I take away from the Fellowship will be invaluable, but far...
Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker, National Campaigner, The Wilderness Society

The Wilderness Society has embarked on a major organisational change project to embrace community organising as our core way of doing business. I’m leading on this project. The Community Organising Fellowship has helped me to define the key principles and approaches of community organising and has provided me with the space and support to plan for this critical change process within my organisation.
2014-03-27T02:09:18+00:00
Glenn Walker
The Wilderness Society has embarked on a major organisational change project to embrace community organising as our core way of doing business. I’m leading on this project. The Community Organising Fellowship has helped me to define the key principles and approaches of community organising and has provided me with the space and support to plan...
Jessica Kirby

Jess Kirby, GetUp! organiser

The Change Agency fellowship has been a completely transformative experience for all of us. I’ve met 22 of the most diverse, interesting organisers and campaigners in the country, and been trained by more than a dozen experts on everything from critical pathways, to the history of the environment movement in Australia, to NationBuilder best practice. I can’t recommend this program highly enough.  
2015-03-17T20:50:52+00:00
Jessica Kirby
The Change Agency fellowship has been a completely transformative experience for all of us. I’ve met 22 of the most diverse, interesting organisers and campaigners in the country, and been trained by more than a dozen experts on everything from critical pathways, to the history of the environment movement in Australia, to NationBuilder best practice....
ben_fb

Ben Margetts, Australian Youth Climate Coalition 2007

I wanted to express how grateful I was for the experience to work with Sam and James. It was very special for me to interact with a part of social movements that I feel a lot of affinity with. I also think tCA shows a great example of 'best practice' in regard to organisational interactions. We at the AYCC have benefited immensely from working with you not just in your capacity as trainers, and the learning that was facilitated, but also with tCA as an organisation.
2014-03-30T07:33:22+00:00
ben_fb
I wanted to express how grateful I was for the experience to work with Sam and James. It was very special for me to interact with a part of social movements that I feel a lot of affinity with. I also think tCA shows a great example of ‘best practice’ in regard to organisational interactions....
John Edye

John Edye, March 2017

James and Fee... Thank you for your inspiring leadership, commitment and engagement. You are epic facilitators, and the first workshop was one of the best training experiences I have ever attended. I feel very privileged to be a participant and am looking forward to the next three. Experiencing such a high level of training and working with so many young, intelligent and professional organisers left me feeling a bit overwhelmed by my lack of experience but very optimistic about the future challenges we face, instead of the rather bleak and jaundiced view I came with. Thank you for your compassion and thoughtfulness and the incredible resources that were on our seats on the first day. It was and will be an incredible learning experience.
2017-03-28T12:18:24+00:00
John Edye
James and Fee… Thank you for your inspiring leadership, commitment and engagement. You are epic facilitators, and the first workshop was one of the best training experiences I have ever attended. I feel very privileged to be a participant and am looking forward to the next three. Experiencing such a high level of training and...
leigh

Leigh Ewbank, Yes2Renewables coordinator

Usually, organisers learn in the heat of battle – through trial and error, stress, and necessity. The Community Organising Fellowship has provided a rare opportunity to step off the campaign trail, slow down, and do some deep learning. The suite of tools explored in the program will influence my practice for years to come.

 By creating a ‘community of practice’ of organisers, those behind the fellowship have shown strategic leadership. The relationships the program has cultivated (within the cohort and between alumni) will pay dividends. 
2015-03-17T20:58:10+00:00
leigh
Usually, organisers learn in the heat of battle – through trial and error, stress, and necessity. The Community Organising Fellowship has provided a rare opportunity to step off the campaign trail, slow down, and do some deep learning. The suite of tools explored in the program will influence my practice for years to come.  By...
Anna Rose

Anna Rose, ASEN Convenor and NUS National Environment Officer 2005

As a direct result of the training you ran at Melbourne Uni, they will be running a real campaign on public transport concessions next year and are even investing in properly researching so they can have a strategic, directed campaign.
2014-03-30T07:48:37+00:00
Anna Rose
As a direct result of the training you ran at Melbourne Uni, they will be running a real campaign on public transport concessions next year and are even investing in properly researching so they can have a strategic, directed campaign.
hayley

Hayley Troupe, 350.org organiser

The community organising fellowship has expanded my theoretical and practical knowledge of how and why to organise. Through the Fellowship I have so far gained new skills to lead strategic, collaborative and powerful university divestment campaigns. I have learnt so much from the well-structured workshops and the inspiring sharing of experiences. I look forward to sharing my experiences and learnings with others involved in the university divestment movement.
2015-03-17T19:29:30+00:00
hayley
The community organising fellowship has expanded my theoretical and practical knowledge of how and why to organise. Through the Fellowship I have so far gained new skills to lead strategic, collaborative and powerful university divestment campaigns. I have learnt so much from the well-structured workshops and the inspiring sharing of experiences. I look forward to...
Meghan and Lilly

Meghan Halverson, Queensland Koala Crusaders

I am so very grateful for the Change Agency’s perspective in helping to coordinate and inspire our group.  The weekend at Wild Mountains to begin to create the foundation of our national koala alliance will certainly be a highlight of 2014. The combination of your amazing resources and the collaborative facilitation helped to provide a cohesive, motivating structure for the path forward and a fresh new approach.
2014-05-06T00:41:31+00:00
Meghan and Lilly
I am so very grateful for the Change Agency’s perspective in helping to coordinate and inspire our group.  The weekend at Wild Mountains to begin to create the foundation of our national koala alliance will certainly be a highlight of 2014. The combination of your amazing resources and the collaborative facilitation helped to provide a...
dave & gemma

Dave Muhly, Sierra Club

What began at Pittwater as a collection of skilled campaigners became a cadre of skilled organizers by the final day at Baden Powell. On Sunday evening as we gathered, I overheard one participant chatting with another at a picnic table and heard, "challenge, choice, outcome" as part of her conversation. Another commented at the final circle at how what had seemed like such a large group at Pittwater now seemed like a much smaller group, reflective of how closely this group had bonded as a team despite their vast differences in geography or organizational size or style, but based on a common goal and identity. Concepts like "building teams" and "building relationships" were part of the normal parlance and just a cursory review of the evaluations to date show an increased appreciation for and attention to leadership development and strategic planning. A number of participants reminded me of my off-the-cuff set of definitions about the differences between mobilizing, campaigning and community organising (focusing on local power), and one told me she has it on the wall of her office to inspire her every day. This has been the successful launch of an ambitious and visionary program. Many thanks to James and Kate for their vision, wisdom, and care in developing and nurturing the curriculum and the cohort. Kudos!

2014-09-15T10:27:41+00:00
dave & gemma
What began at Pittwater as a collection of skilled campaigners became a cadre of skilled organizers by the final day at Baden Powell. On Sunday evening as we gathered, I overheard one participant chatting with another at a picnic table and heard, “challenge, choice, outcome” as part of her conversation. Another commented at the final...