A Laboratory of Hope: The Social Movement Working Group at UNC-CH

The SMWG is a research-action project based at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We seek to understand and re-envision social movements. Many of us work within activist networks as well as across and beyond academic disciplines to challenge the divide between activism and the academy. We situate our work within broader struggles for change and social justice.

Provisional Mission Statement:

Our goals include:

  • Shifting the centre of gravity of the social sciences and humanities toward positive contributions to social change
  • Creating and disseminating alternative perspectives, theories and methodologies about social movements and activist work, including collaborative knowledge production and research
  • Fostering debate about the significance of contemporary social movements to local and global social change
  • Building a social movement within the academy by challenging and rethinking conventional categories and concepts and enacting horizontal practices in our work
  • Contributing to the understanding of, and positive engagement with diverse struggles for social justice
  • Reinstating utopian thinking in the academy as a tool for transforming the research and praxis