Virtual Institute for Activism to teach students how to change the world

Free 10-week course sponsored by Team Harmony accepting applicants for January kickoff


Naomi Baker, Raider Times

As social justice movements have dominated both the American and worldwide news, many Watertown High School students may be looking for a way to participate in these activist campaigns, but have no idea where to start. That’s where the Virtual Institute for Activism comes in!

Starting in January, the Virtual Institute for Activism will offer a series of 10 free workshops taught by Emerson College professors over the course of 10 weeks to help students learn how they can make their voices heard. The online classes are for students 14-20 years old and will run for about an hour on Saturday or Sunday mornings. 

Students are not required to attend every lesson, though they might want to considering how interesting they all are! Topics such as Influencing the Influencer and Using Social Media for Social Good can help you discover the power you already have at your fingertips with your platform online. 

The Institute will offer programs such as The Art of Organizing a Peaceful Demonstration and The Art of Public Speaking

Not really a lover of technology? That’s fine! The Institute also offers programs such as The Art of Organizing a PEACEFUL Demonstration and The Art of Public Speaking for any future leaders who might not be totally into virtual campaigns. There are six other classes covering nearly every facet of social justice campaigning, if you are interested in checking them out they can be found here.

The Virtual Institute for Activism is run by The Team Harmony Foundation, a Boston-based nonprofit long committed to working with youth, it says, “in the battle against hate in all its forms.”   

Elli Barkett of Team Harmony said, “The primary goal of the foundation is to support year-round engagement, coalition building, and organizing efforts of students as they work to develop diverse coalitions and encourage collaboration across differences. We believe supporting coalition building amongst youth of all races, ethnicities, religions, socio-economic statuses, orientations, legal status will serve to build bridges and further enhance student efforts to organize and fight against injustice and discrimination. This effort can result in the establishment of a new majority, one committed to altering our civic discourse for a better and more just future!”   

She explained a lot about the importance of students utilizing their virtual platforms to make real change.

“I think that the social media aspect of it is so big for our generation, especially with COVID-19, and how much everyone is online right now, I think that learning how to speak to people and get involved is so important,” she said.

Watertown High Schoolers are no strangers to the power of online spaces and through this program students can begin to learn how to harness that power for something good.  As for what type of the students this program is looking for, she said, “Anybody who’s really interested in something, like I said, having that passion and doing something outside of the course once it’s over, and truly wants to become an activist from this.”

Ok, so now you might be asking, how do I sign up for this? The application for the program, located on the Team Harmony website is quick and easy. The deadline is Jan. 2, and  the Institute is accepting people on a first-come, first-serve basis. If you have questions about time and schedule, don’t be afraid to reach out! 

Team Harmony has other programs to participate in or videos to watch to further your activist knowledge, like their webinar or the global reporters program, which allows students to record stories about their own issues to be shared with the world,  are just as fulfilling.

Whatever path you choose to take, you will be starting yourself on a journey to become a better leader and a better person. All it takes is one individual to make a change. Sign up today!

(For questions about the Virtual Institute for Activism, email Elli Barkett at [email protected].For more information or to sign up, go the page on the Team Harmony website HERE.) 

–Dec. 10, 2020–